Monday, 19 October 2009

Digital Lives - New Paper on Legal and Ethical Issues

The Digital Lives Project has just released what looks to be a very useful and comprehensive discussion paper on Legal and Ethical Issues authored by Andrew Charlesworth.

The paper examines a range of legal and ethical issues that pertain to personal digital archives and their collection, preservation and access. The legal areas covered include copyright, data protection and privacy law, freedom of information requirements, and content liability both civil and criminal. The paper also examines the issue of ethics in the collection and preservation of, and access to personal digital archives.

One of the conclusions the paper comes to is that technology frequently runs ahead of existing laws and ethical guidelines, and at least some of the solutions to the problems this can cause are likely to lie outside traditional approaches to handling legal and ethical issues.

It goes on to examines a number of potential strategies/solutions that could be employed to
reduce legal and ethical problems/risks. These include:
  • Wider use of metadata
  • Greater involvement of repositories in the development of Web 2.0/user created content
  • Relinquishing some of the ‘gatekeeper’ role, traditionally held by repositories when accessioning content, to depositors
  • Seeking to change aspects of the legal deposit system.
Digital Lives are welcoming feedback on the paper. You can contact them via