23 April 2017

Copyright or copywrong?

The last time I tried to write this post, I was comfortably sitting in Costa when I tragically lost internet connection and all that I wrote. Over a month later, I am back to reflect on the Association of Pall Mall Libraries Copyright Workshop with Naomi Korn.

The prior knowledge of copyright for some librarians participating in the workshop was the familiarity of photocopying under "fair dealing". For some, this is easily defined as the ability for library users to photocopy a chapter or up to 10% of a book or one article from a periodical, if it is used for non-commercial private study or research and the source is acknowledged. Although this may sound simple, copyright rules are much more complex. 

For example, there were gasps of surprise when told that organisations with a library, where staff or private members wish to make photocopies of copyright-protected materials, then that organisation would need a license from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA). This is because the material is likely to be used for the commercial gains of the said organisation. Each CLA license is individual and set out the conditions of use within the organisation from who can copy, what can be copied and how much. A license can be expensive, however, they are essential to ensure that organisations abide by UK copyright laws and helps protect copyright holders as the creators of original works.  

As a publicly accessible library, archive, museum or gallery that provides copies of copyrighted work for users, librarians need to be protected. It is for that reason that copyright declaration forms such as the one CILIP provide is essential in receiving written acknowledgement that users understand that the supply of a copy is for non-commercial purposes. 

It was good to find out that such forms can be accepted very email. However, it must be said that there was much discussion about the dubious wording on these forms. Just what is meant by copying a "reasonable portion" of a published or unpublished work? Nonetheless, it is helpful that such resources are freely available.    

Author copyright and publishing

One of the key things I remembered from this workshop was Korn demonstrating the complexities of copyright in the ability to publish a book. As many libraries and archives engage in digitising material, the story of publishing Ethel M. Bilbrough, "My War Diary, 1914-1918" as an example that stuck with me*. 

When agreeing to publish a book with a publisher, there are usually 3 main clauses in the contract:
  1. License: for the publisher to publish the diary
  2. Warranty: legal promises to fairly represent and not plagiarise someone's work
  3. Indemnities: liabilities in breaking said promises
However, unless you have the rights holders permission to publish you could be making a copywrong and breaking the copyright laws.

It was interesting to hear the processes involved in finding the legal copyright holder of Ethel's writing after her death in 1951. Firstly, author copyright duration is the author's life plus 70 years (from the end of the calendar year of the author's death). So, after much investigation, the legal rights holder for Ethel's work was traced to the niece of Ethel's husband's second wife. In visual terms it looks like this:

Ethel Bilbrough (author of the diary) 
--> Kenneth Bilbrough (Ethel's husband who inherited Ethel's estate via her will) 
-->Elsie (Kenneth's second wife also inherited the diary after his death)
-->Elsie's niece (now the owner)

Image Recognition Software for digitisation projects

Secondly, the came the huge task of tracing the right holders for photographs and newspaper clippings that were all part of the diary. Due to the fact that this could take many months or years, it is important for organisations to consider copyright at the beginning of publishing and digitising projects. Korn did offer few Image Software tools to help with this and their associated risks:
  1. Tineye Reserve Image Search - risk-free
  2. Fotoforensics - risk-free
  3. Google Advance Image Search - risky as Google terms and conditions says that you sign away your rights to the use of any image uploaded without your knowledge. 
So after all of this, I hope you have a new found interest in copyright because I definitely did. I plan to follow up and read more about the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988) and its subsequent revisions in 2003 and 2014 to ensure that I am copyright compliant in all aspects of work. 

Copyright resources 
If you would like to know more, I hope the following resources will be helpful to you.
The annual CILIP Copyright Conference is a good opportunity to learn everything you need to know about copyright for your library. It would have been great to go to Copyright Conference 2017 to learn more about the possible impact of Brexit on copyright laws. Hopefully, my fellow information professionals will be able to tell me about the discussions.
NKCC is one of the UK's leading consultancies on copyright offering services in rights clearance and training and development, copyright awareness, information law and data protection. The NKCC has a great team of a wide range of skills and their blog and many Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike Licensed resources are very useful.
#FixCopyright Youtube channel also offers information about the oddities about copyright in Europe in easy to understand videos. 

*Please note that Ethel's copyright story and examples used in this blog post have reused under ©Naomi Korn, 2016 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. You can read more about Ethel's here

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