by Charles Hilton
In Juneau, I attended the session on Intellectual Property Rights for Cultural Organizations by Freya Anderson of the Alaska State Library. Of course, copyright law is really complex and incredibly boring, but Freya presented in a context that was easy to follow and very relevant for academic institutions. Organizations like Creative Commons were discussed along with issues involving public domain, fair use, and copyright notices.
There was a really good question regarding oral histories in which an attendee was wondering how to deal with an oral history whose copyright permission was given by someone who did not own copyright and how to make this oral history available to the public. Of course, it’s a very sticky situation when no one knows where copyright stands, but we were given some great resources to help guide us along in answering some of these questions that do not have easy answers. Many of these helpful resources can be found on the Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums web page: http://lam.alaska.gov/owlcopyright. In the end, Freya answered the question regarding the oral history, saying that fair use would allow the recording to be used in libraries or archives but could not be reproduced in any way.
One of the resources available at the LAM website is a link to the “Public Domain Slider”: http://www.librarycopyright.net/resources/digitalslider/
This is a tool that can help determine if works first published in the United States are protected by copyright. Working in archives this tool is really useful when researchers ask if something in our collections is in public domain or not.
Another issue discussed that is very relevant working in an academic institution was the importance of rights statements. The use of a clear rights statement is important so people can know what they can use from an institution. RightsStatements.org provides users with sample right statements that can be used for institutions to let people know copyright status of materials in their collections.
Overall, I found this session to be very helpful. Since copyright is such a broad and compound subject, I think it is important to have sessions on this topic each year to keep professionals up to date and review policies. I would suggest that a workshop on copyright might be a good idea to go over some case studies and more examples. Having more examples, like the Oral History question at this year’s session, would benefit those of us that frequently deal with copyright questions from researchers and patrons.