Policy on Describing Ownership and Re-Use of Digital Assets

October 2015 recommended by Library Services Committee. Includes January 2016 revisions from Dean/Associate Deans. February 2016 approved by Library Council and Executive Committee.

Policy on Describing Ownership and Re-Use of Digital Assets

Rights statements for digital collections across many institutions are often assigned without providing consistent information for users about the use of digital assets. Providing clearer, searchable rights statements in Marriott Library’s digital collections will provide valuable information to library users about how they can make use of digital assets for publishing, scholarship, teaching, and personal study.

The recent release of the Europeana and DPLA Recommendations for Standardized International Rights Statements and Requirements for the Technical Infrastructure for Standardized International Rights Statements provide clear standards for rights statements that the Marriott Library can use moving forward in assigning rights statements to new digital collections, and in assessing and updating rights statements in existing collections.

In a review of the rights statements added to items in all of the digital collections hosted by the Marriott Library, over 12,000 different statements have been used, some of which contain contact information that is no longer valid. In many cases rights statements assert ownership over digital assets that an institution does not actually possess. These rights statements need to be evaluated and updated to match current policies and recommendations.

In addition to metadata recommendations, the current edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices provides further guidance. The document states that the U.S. Copyright Office “will not register works produced by a machine or mere mechanical process that operates randomly or automatically without any creative input or intervention from a human author…for example, converting a work from analog to digital format, such as transferring a motion picture from VHS to DVD.” (Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices § 300, 3d ed. 2014, pg. 22). It remains problematic for Marriott Library (and the library’s cultural heritage partners) to claim copyright ownership of a digital asset or to impose conditions upon its lawful reuse solely because the library has digitized it, especially if the work is already in the public domain. If the library applied for a copyright registration in a digitized work, the U.S. Copyright Office would deny the registration as specified in the Compendium.

To address the description of copyright ownership and the re-use of digital assets, the Marriott Library will:

  • Adopt Europeana and DPLA International Rights Statements
  • Investigate ownership of digital assets
  • Accurately describe ownership in rights statements
  • Retroactively update rights statements
  • Examine, revise, and standardize any forms that require patrons to request permission to publish. Patrons will not be required to request the Library’s permission to publish or reuse any document or image that is in the public domain.