Thursday 13 December 2007

Copyright and preservation news from Israel

Thanks to Chris Rusbridge for forwarding on the following information from Rivka Shveiky, who is the head of the legal deposit department at the Jewish National and University Library in Israel:

“Some weeks ago, The Knesset (the Israeli parliament) passed two laws that have important implications for preservation in libraries and archives in Israel: the first - a new copyright law, the second - The National Library Law.

The new copyright law addresses the preservation needs in the clause "permitted usages in libraries and archives". For the sake of preservation, this clause includes permission to copy copyrighted works, from which the library or the archive possesses a copy, as long as the library or archive does not use the preservation copies as extra copies for everyday use. In practical terms this allows libraries and archives to copy works from obsolete formats to newer ones in order to preserve it for the future. The law also indirectly refers to the preservation of online content, by authorizing the Minister of Education to permit copying of certain kinds of works. The Minister of Education is also authorized to determine the terms for public access to the copied works.

The National Library Law contains a clause that gives The National Library even more extensive rights to copy copyrighted works for the purpose of preservation. The National Library received the right to copy any publication which is subject to Legal Deposit but failed to be deposited for any reason. While Internet sites are not subject to legal deposit in Israel, the new law allows The National Library to copy Internet sites, and thus enables the archiving of the Israeli domain. Public access to the archived Internet sites will be under the terms and conditions that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Education will determine.”

Guide to Managing IPR in Digital Repositories

I have been informed that the final outputs of the JISC TrustDR (Trust in Digital Repositories) project are now available.

Here’s the information that’s being provided by TrustDR:

Managing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in Digital Learning Materials: A Development Pack for Institutional Repositories

Authors: John Casey, Jackie Proven & David Dripps

Distributed under a Creative Commons License - Attribution 2.5 UK: Scotland

You can download it here.

The pack is aimed at those who are setting up or running digital collections of learning materials that are managed at an institutional level. It is written in a clear and straightforward style that sets out to persuade the reader of the benefits of engaging with the issues associated with IPR in e-learning. The approach taken is based on the idea that the organisation of an IPR policy in e-learning should reflect and support the educational activity instead of hinder it – and that means understanding ‘the business of e-learning’. To do this it paints a compelling picture of an educational sector in the process of changing from traditional ad-hoc models of teaching to a more sustainable, team-based model – driven by increased student numbers, a greater focus on learners needs, and increased requirements for flexible delivery with the increasing use of digital media and technologies.

The pack is useful and unusual in that it situates its analysis and advice specifically in the highly relevant context of the professional and institutional process change that is required to introduce and extend flexible learning opportunities in our education systems – a common scenario that raises many IPR challenges. It surveys the current confused and contradictory practises in UK education and suggests that these practices reflect a situation where e-learning is not yet effectively integrated into our institutions. It also highlights a lack of involvement and leadership by senior management.

The authors argue strongly that sorting out the IPR policy for e-learning can be a way of getting senior management to engage more effectively with the educational and organisational changes that are needed to make e-learning work. Clarifying IPR policy therefore becomes an enabler for best practice. Looked at in this light - to be able to account for the provenance of content in e-learning materials is really a matter of individual academic integrity and for institutional quality control. Another central argument deals with the relative values of teaching activity by humans and the role of learning materials content, and again the pack promotes the development of policies that properly reflect these values.

The format of the development pack is a central document of about 70 pages linked to other resources; it is designed to allow the reader to dip in and out or to explore themes in greater depth. The pack functions both as a personal training manual and as an organisational development tool, it includes:

  • A Beginners guide to IPR in e-learning
  • Discussion of the pros and cons of using Creative Commons licences
  • Useful of tools to help analyse your situation and development needs
  • A collection of common IPR mistakes made by institutions
  • Overview of the relevant technical factors
  • An introduction and guide to Risk Management
  • Discussion of the kinds business models associated with the use of creative commons licences
  • Understanding and assessing the value of learning materials
  • A practical guide to implementing flexible learning (published by the QAA)
  • Tools for understanding and modelling organisational and professional change
  • Policy discussion and development documents for use at institutional and national levels
  • Scenarios/ case studies

The TrustDR (Trust in Digital Repositories) project was charged with developing practical solutions to the problem of managing IPR in collections of digital learning materials. The work was carried out between 2005 and 2007 and was led by Ulster University, Northern Ireland, in collaboration with the UHI Millennium Institute, Scotland.

Monday 26 November 2007

Managing Intellectual Property for Museums

I’ve just become aware of a useful new publication from WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organisation) called ‘the WIPO Guide on Managing Intellectual Property for Museums

The executive summary explains that:

“In the digital age, the cultural heritage community is increasingly faced with the responsibility of managing its own IP internally, as well as managing uses by third parties and users throughout the world, often on diminishing budgets. Effective use of the IP system allows museums to meet international standards of best practice, and can offer significant opportunities to leverage their goodwill, authenticity, uniqueness and scholarly expertise to generate a return on investment.

The first part of the Guide describes IP issues of relevance to museums such as rights in scholarly content, technologies developed in-house, and branding tools that provide recognition and awareness of the museum in a commercial context. It also sets out recommended best practices in managing IP to enable a museum to identify its IP, understand its rights in using its collections, and strengthen its ability to deal with critical IP issues as they arise. The second part of the Guide reviews existing business models that could provide museums with appropriate opportunities to create sustainable funding, and deliver on their stated objectives.
The WIPO-commissioned author of the guide – Mrs Rina Elster Pantalony – is a recognized Canadian expert in the field of museums and cultural heritage institutions.”

You can learn more about the publication by listening to an interview with the author Rina Pantalony on the website of the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN). A transcript of the interview is also available.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Massive Loss of Confidential Details by Revenue and Customs

Bit of an obvious one to report on but seeing as it is data protection related how could I resist?!

The loss has been reported widely as the top news story in many papers. You can check out the BBC, Guardian and Times coverage form these links.

In addition the Information Commissioner’s Office has released an official statement on the matter.

If you are interested in the data protection principles you can find them in the Data Protection Act 1998 on the OPSI website.

I think this situation highlights the importance of good practice and genuine compliance. As the information commissioner, Richard Thomas, is reported to have said:

“it just does not matter what laws, rules, procedures and regulations are in place, if there is no proper enforcement of those rules.”

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Legal Implications of Web 2.0

An interesting article in the Times discussing the copyright and privacy issues inherent in Web 2.0.

Image by gualtierocatrame on Flickr CC-BY-NC

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Free the Postcode!

While writing my last post I came across this initiative (Free the Postcode!) from a link on Chris Fleming’s website. The website says:

“The postcode database - which turns a postcode to a latitude/longitude and back - is not free in the UK. In fact, it's very expensive. The Post Office owns it and sells it to various companies that make use of it for things like insurance or parcel tracking. There are however many people who'd like to use it for non-profit purposes. Say you want to lay out events like free concerts / gigs on a map and you only have the postcode... you have to buy the database.
Instead, wouldn't it be nice if it was free like zipcodes are in the US? To do this, you have to have a number of people collaborating with GPS units who note positions and postcodes. Hence this site to collect that data.”

It then provides a way for people to enter data that they have collected themselves with a GPS. My little knowledge of GPS was gained on some work I did on the GRADE project (Scoping a Geospatial Repository for Academic Deposit and Extraction). If you’re interested in the issues involved in the reuse of geospatial data you can take a look at the project here.

Around the World in 80 Clicks (Legal and IT aspects of geospatial data)

For those of you in Edinburgh and around - this talk by Chris Fleming of the OpenStreetMap project looks interesting:

Around the World in 80 Clicks (Legal and IT aspects of geospatial data)
Wednesday 14 November 2007
6.00 for 6.30 p.m.
The Faculty of Advocates, McKenzie Building (behind Fringe Office) High Street, Edinburgh

The announcement says:

"The OpenStreetMap project is a way of creating a free crowd sourced map allowing users use of the data for any purpose they might wish, avoiding some of the restrictions of both traditional mapping and seemingly free maps such as Google maps. Since it started over 5000 people in every continent have start mapping from places as diverse as Iraq, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Germany. Mapping of the whole of the Netherlands has been donated by a commercial mapping company and at the current rate of progress it is hoped that the mapping of the UK will be completed by the end of 2008.

In this talk, Chris Fleming will talk about and demonstrate the mapping process, how to create a map without violating copyright from the use of GPS devices to sources of copyright free data such as out of copyright maps and aerial photography. At its inception OpenStreetMap chose a Creative Commons ShareAlike-Attribution licence, and Chris will talk about the appropriateness of this licence for this kind of project, what this style of licence has encouraged and both the benefits and the limitations of the licence conditions. He will also consider alternative licences and the difficulties involved in changing licences.
Chris graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in Computer Science and Electronics in 2000. By day he works for Agilent Technologies (formally part of HP) based in South Queensferry monitoring systems for telecoms networks. While working on web development he became frustrated with the state of commercially available sources of mapping data and so became involved in the OpenStreetMap project in early 2006. Since then he has been participating in discussions around the usage and licensing of the data as well as talking about the project in Scotland and organising a mapping party in Edinburgh."

To book a place they ask that you e-mail Rosie Saunders at:

You might also want to check out OpenGeoData. This is a blog about open maps, geographical data and OpenStreetMap.

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Joint DCC and SCRIPTed Workshop - Legal Environment of Digital Curation

The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and SCRIPTed online journal are
delighted to announce that they will be delivering a joint one-day workshop.
This event will take place at the University of Glasgow on November 23, 2007
and will provide a useful overview of legal considerations for non-legal
professionals who work with data. The day will consist of talks by experts
in the areas of:

-Intellectual property rights and licensing
-Data protection, freedom of information and privacy
-Data as evidence

This will be followed in the afternoon by group discussion in each of these

Intended Audience
The intended audience for this event are people who:

-Share data
-Manage data for others
-Need to preserve data
-Are setting up institutional repositories for data
-Manage collaborations depending on data

To view the programme for this event, please click here.

This event will take place in Charles Wilson Building, University of
Glasgow. This is building E15 on the following map.

You may register here.
Registration fees are £30 for DCC Associates Network members and £60 for

Handy hint - membership of the DCC Associates Network is FREE! For more information on
becoming a member, see the Associates Network page.

Monday 22 October 2007

Nature Precedings – pre-publication research and preliminary findings

You may have heard about Nature Precedings. It’s relevant to us in many ways - from copyright implications, to sharing of findings and ease of access to archiving and preservation.

Nature Precedings is a place for researchers to share documents, including presentations, posters, white papers, technical papers, supplementary findings, and manuscripts. It is a free service which describes itself as providing a rapid way to disseminate emerging results and new theories, solicit opinions, and record the provenance of ideas. It makes such material easy to archive, share and cite.

The site states that you should only submit material to Nature Precedings if you own the copyright (which will usually mean that you wrote it) and have the permission of any other copyright holders (e.g., in the case of a co-authored piece of work, the other authors). They specifically ask that if you are uploading a presentation you take particular care that none of your slides contain material for which you do not own the copyright.

Copyright for all documents remains with the author(s). Others may make use of the material under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Licence. Simply put, this means that the content may be quoted, copied and disseminated for any purpose, but only if the original source is correctly cited.

As well as making scientific documents citable, Nature Precedings also aims to make them globally available and stably archived. To this end, they are in discussions with governmental, academic and not-for-profit organisations about providing mirror sites of Nature Precedings content. The plan is that if, for any reason, this content becomes unavailable from Nature Publishing Group, it will continue to be available through those sites.

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Last Call for The Survey of Database Licensing Practices

Primary Research Group is planning to publish a survey of library database licensing practices and is seeking survey participants. The survey will close on October 9th
2007. Academic, public, corporate, legal and special libraries
are eligible. This is an international survey open to libraries
of all countries. Participants receive a free PDF copy of the
estimated 100-page report. Data are broken out by type and size
of institution for easier benchmarking. Click here to take the 40 question

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Thoughts on drafting an open data licence

Further to my previous post on the open data commons database licence I’d like to draw your attention to this post by one of the creators, Jordan Hatcher, where he discusses the thinking behind the development of the licence.

Open data commons database licence

A draft Open Data Commons Database licence has been produced by Jordan Hatcher and Dr. Charlotte Waelde of the AHRC Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law at the University of Edinburgh School of Law. It is sponsored by Talis

In Jordan's words it is:

"an attempt at a worldwide licence for databases following in the footsteps of other open /free/libre licences in both software and content. In Creative Commons terms it is an SA licence."
You can read Jordan's blog post announcing its release here.

The draft text of the licence itself is located here.

It is very important to note that this licence covers copyright and database rights over databases. It doesn’t cover the rights over the contents of databases. Because the data has been separated from the database in the licensing,
a supplemental BSD/MIT style licence for the data, intended for
factual information rather than other "contents of a database" has been provided.

There's also a discussion list set up specifically for the licence. Any comments or thoughts would be most welcome.

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Law as a "positive agent"!

I just read an interesting article by Brian Fitzgerald and Kylie Pappalardo in the CT Watch Quarterly called ‘The Law as Cyberinfrastructure’. The article discusses both open content licensing and open patent licensing and highlights a number of the relevant issues and initiatives in these areas. What I specifically like about it was that it saw the potential for law to be an enabling tool as opposed to a barrier to progress. This is an approach we try to promote here at the DCC.

Here are some of the passages I particularly like on this point:

“In the realm of collaborative endeavour through networked cyberinfrastructure we know the law is not too far away. But we also know that a paranoid obsession with it will cause inefficiency and stifle the true spirit of research. The key for the lawyers is to understand and implement a legal framework that can work with the power of the technology to disseminate knowledge in such a way that it does not seem a barrier. This is difficult in any universal sense but not totally impossible. In this article, we will show how the law is responding as a positive agent to facilitate the sharing of knowledge in the cyberinfrastructure world.”

“Legal instruments that can match the dynamic of the technology and appear seamless and non-invasive are the goal.”

“As lawyers, we hope that the law can adapt to facilitate the very great potential cyberinfrastructure promises us. To this end, we need to think of legal tools as being part of the infrastructure and work towards providing innovative models for the future.”
What are your thoughts on this?

Monday 3 September 2007

What is personal data?

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) published new guidance last week that explains its view of what counts as personal data under the Data Protection Act. The guidance included the view that information that is not personal data today may become personal data as technology advances.

Read about this story on

Read the guidance from the ICO

Monday 13 August 2007

JISC Collections Licensing Workshop: Copyright in the digital age - 7th September 2007, Birmingham

Announcement from JISC collections about a licensing workshop focusing on copyright in the digital age.

"Early Bird registration discount still available for members until 15th August

Copyright is a complex issue that confuses many and infuriates others. What you can do and cannot do in relation to the educational use of copyrighted digital resources is not clear and is complicated by myth, rumour and the Internet. It is now as easy to infringe upon the copyright of digital materials as it is for the infringement to be detected.

Following on from the popular workshop that was hosted in London earlier this year, JISC Collections is repeating this event, which will take place at the Millennium Point Thinktank events suite in central Birmingham on Friday, 7th September 2007. The workshop will focus on digital copying and issues relating to sharing between collaborative institutions. This will be of interest to librarians and all practitioners and teaching staff who use online content in their teaching.

Attendees will be introduced to the online interactive tool which demonstrates how online resources from JISC Collections can enable practitioners and institutions to resolve the common misconceptions and issues relating to the use of copyrighted digital and online resources in research, teaching and learning."

You can find more details and register online here

Monday 6 August 2007

New survey on open content licences

The Eduserv Foundation is funding a study into the use of Creative Archive, Creative Commons and similar open content licences by cultural heritage organisations in the United Kingdom. The study is being led by legal consultant Jordan Hatcher of As part of the study a survey has been released. Click here to take the survey.

The survey is open to UK-based cultural heritage organisations such as museums, libraries, galleries, archives, film and video organisations, broadcasters, and other organisations that conduct cultural heritage activities.

The goal of the study is to provide information on the actual use of Creative Archive, Creative Commons, and similar licences. This information will be useful to decision makers and interested professionals in the cultural heritage sector, and for local and national government and the HE and FE sector. The study will be conducted from now through to the middle of September and a report will be made available in October.

If you are a member of a cultural heritage organisation, whether or not you currently use Creative Commons or Creative Archive licences, your participation in the survey would be really helpful to make this study a success.

As a bonus for completing the survey, respondents will get the chance to enter a drawer to win one of three iPod Shuffles that come pre-loaded with music! See the survey for full details.

It would also be very helpful if you would publicise the survey by blogging about it or forwarding this post to people who you think might be interested.

You can learn more about the project and read the original research proposal at the project’s homepage.

If you would prefer to take part via post or telephone, or are interested in finding out more about the study, please contact Ed Barker and Jordan Hatcher at
phone +44 (0) 125 474328

Tuesday 31 July 2007

Creative Commons has launched a new division focussed on education. It's called ccLearn.

ccLearn is dedicated to realizing the full potential of the Internet to support open learning and open educational resources (OER). Its mission is to minimize barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials — legal barriers, technical barriers, and social barriers.

* With legal barriers, they advocate for licensing of educational materials under interoperable terms, such as those provided by Creative Commons licenses, that allow unhampered modification, remixing, and redistribution. They will also educate teachers, learners, and policy makers about copyright and fair-use issues pertaining to education.
* With technical barriers, they promote interoperability standards and tools to facilitate remixing and reuse.
* With social barriers, they encourage teachers and learners to re-use educational materials available on the Web, and to build on each other’s contributions.

ccLearn will be in transition over the remainder of the summer, reaching full operation this in autumn. It is an international project, and will be working with open educational sites and resources from around the world.

Wednesday 25 July 2007

Open Data Licensing: is your data safe?

Just a quickie. Those of you interested in the issues raised by data licensing might want to take a look at Chris Rusbridge’s interesting discussion of the area on the Digital Curation Blog.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Electronic copyright, IPR and access issues in the emerging electronic landscape

This sounds relevant...

Electronic copyright, IPR and access issues in the emerging electronic

ALISS One Day Summer Conference British Library Conference Centre
13th August 9.30-4.30

From the announcement:

“On 13th August ALISS (Association of Librarians and Information
Professionals in the Social Sciences) will be holding a one day conference
on the topical issue of electronic copyright IPR and access issues. It will
include presentations from ongoing projects and practical tips from
practitioners. The speakers will include:

  • Copyright and data licensing;, does electronic differ from print?' Richard Ebdon, Copyright Officer, The British Library.
  • The practicalities of copyright in the online age. Helen Bartlett, Copyright Manager, HERON.
  • Rights and responsibilities: managing electronic images Grant Young Technical Research Officer, TASI - Technical Advisory Service for Images.
  • IPR and multimedia in institutional repositories: lessons from the MIDESS Lesley Pitman, Librarian and Director of Information Services, UCL SSEES Library.
  • Librarians against plagiarism: how Imperial College London is using PRS and active learning to combat the cut and paste generation. Ruth Harrison and Julia Garthwaite.
  • Irish Studies Online - JSTOR and the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis, QUB. Norma Menabney, Queen University, Belfast.

Cost: £75 ALISS Members, Non-Members £95. This will include a buffet lunch
and tea/coffee.

Registration: Places are limited. To register contact: Heather Dawson,
ALISS Secretary, LSE Library, 10 Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HD."

Thursday 12 July 2007

All Online Data Lost in Internet Crash!!

Checkout this breaking news.......

Wednesday 11 July 2007

Building the Infrastructure for Data Access and Reuse in Collaborative Research: A Legal Analysis

Another one from the domain of open knowledge but this time from the other side of the globe….

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have released a report entitled 'Building the Infrastructure for Data Access and Reuse in Collaborative Research: A Legal Analysis'. This has been produced as a result of two different QUT projects: Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law and Legal Framework for e-Research.

The announcement explains that the report:

"examines the legal framework within which research data is generated, managed, disseminated and used. It provides an overview of the operation of copyright law, contract and confidentiality laws, as well as a range of legislation - privacy, public records and freedom of information legislation – that is of relevance to research data. The Report considers how these legal rules apply to define rights in research data and regulate the generation, management and sharing of data. The Report also describes and explains current practices and attitudes towards data sharing. A wide array of databases is analysed to ascertain the arrangements currently in place to manage and provide access to research data. Finally, the Report encourages researchers and research organisations to adopt proper management and legal frameworks for research data outputs. It provides practical guidance on the development and implementation of legal frameworks for data management with the objective of ensuring that research data can be accessed and used by other researchers."

I must admit that I have only scanned this so cannot give an accurate review but at 274 pages we can probably safely assume that it is pretty comprehensive!

Guide To Open Data Licensing

The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) has released a Guide To Open Data Licensing.

This is currently on their wiki at

The OKF announcement said:

"While attending XTech back in May it became clear that there were a lot of questions both about the legal status of data and what approaches to use when licensing it.

We started work on the guide in order to have something which could help answer these kinds of questions. At present it is roughly divided into two sections. The first section deals with the practical question of how to license your data. The second section discusses what kinds of intellectual property-like rights exist in data in various jurisdictions.
This guide is very much in an ‘alpha’ state, with much that can be done to improve and extend it. We’ve been working on it in the wiki precisely so that anyone may edit it and we’d welcome contributions — whether it be adding new sections and use cases or just fixing typos. So please, check it out and feel free to make changes."

So do check the guide out and comment or contribute (if you’re into that kind of thing!)

Thursday 28 June 2007

SERU 0.9 Draft Available for Pilot Use

Thanks to Joy Davidson who passed this announcement on to me.

NISO's Shared E-Resource Understanding (SERU) Working Group has
made available a new 0.9 draft of SERU on the NISO Web site.

This latest version of the Shared Electronic Resource
Understanding provides a set of statements publishers and
libraries can choose to use for sales of electronic content. SERU
offers publishers and libraries an alternative to the
often-burdensome process of bilateral negotiation of a formal
license agreement by allowing the sale of e-resources without
licenses if both parties feel their perception of risk has been
adequately addressed by current law and developing norms of
behavior within the publisher and library communities. Libraries
and publishers can notify serials vendors of their willingness to
work with SERU allowing vendors to more easily mediate such
subscription sales.

The working group encourages pilot use of the 0.9 draft by
interested libraries and publishers. SERU 0.9 includes
guidelines for implementation and is accompanied by a revised FAQ
to assist users of the statements. NISO is maintaining a list of
libraries and publishers who plan to use SERU for pilot
transactions. To join the registry or to see the list of current
trial participants visit

The NISO SERU Working Group is grateful for the active commentary
earlier SERU drafts have generated. The current SERU document
reflects a range of suggestions from many constituencies in the
library and publishing communities. The working group continues
to welcome comments on the draft statements. Comments can be sent
to Karla Hahn ( or Judy Luther
(, the working group
co-chairs, or any other member of the working group.

An informational listserv providing announcements of future
developments with the project is available as well. SERU 0.9 and
further information on the SERU Working Group, can be found at

The NISO SERU Working Group was formed in late 2006 following a
development meeting supported by the Association of Research
Libraries (ARL), the Association of Learned and Professional
Society Publishers (ALPSP), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic
Resources Coalition (SPARC), and the Society for Scholarly
Publishing (SSP).

Wednesday 27 June 2007

Ruling in Perfect 10 v.Google

Photo totally unrelated to the story today. I've been away on a variety of trips recently. In order to explain the gaps in the blawg postings at the same time as making good use of my snaps I will be adding travel shots to the next few postings!

Bit late on this one but back in May the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the US has upheld Google's appeal against claims of infringement of copyright for creating and displaying thumbnail images. The court also ruled that when Google frames and links to other sites, it does not violate their copyright. If you’ve got time for 48 pages take a look at the full decision. You can also read Jason Schultz’s views about the decision on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Deeplinks blog. Remember that this is a U.S. case which talks about ‘fair use’. ‘Fair dealing’ (its UK counterpart) is much narrower.

This is one of the cases mentioned in a DCC legal research paper currently in progress that discusses, amongst other things, the practice and legality of framing and in-lining. I’ll say a bit more about that once it’s published.

Tuesday 12 June 2007

Librarians' top concerns

SCONUL (the Society of College, National and University Libraries) recently released the Top Concerns Survey 2007. It showed that 42% of SCONUL members considered "Compliance (e.g. licensing, copyright, FOI, DDA, digital rights, health and safety)" to have been a high concern in the last 3 months. Compliance wasn't the highest ranked concern though. The areas scoring most highly were:

  • e-environment;
  • space and buildings;
  • staffing and HR management; and
  • policy and strategy

Tuesday 15 May 2007

First postgraduate qualification in information rights

Thanks to Sarah Higgins who brought the Information and Rights Practice LLM course at Northumbria University to my attention.

The course covers the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 together with the common law duty of confidence and the right to privacy protected by the ECHR.

You can find more details at the university’s website.

The Blawg may be quiet for a while as I’m off on my holidays. Au revoir!

Friday 11 May 2007

Got 20 minutes? (Taking open data to another level)

I know. Who has? But if you can find it I really recommend watching this video (brought to my attention by Peter Suber on the SPARC Open Data list – thank you!). It’s a very interesting presentation by Hans Rosling where he de-bunks a few myths about the "developing" world. Rosling is professor of international health at Sweden's world-renowned Karolinska Institute. He is also the founder of Gapminder, a non-profit that brings vital global data to life.

In the first 15 minutes he provides a fascinating overview of the changes that have occurred in the world over the last 40 years in terms of child survival rates, average number of children per woman, life expectancy at birth, distribution of income, GDP per capita. The graphics he employs to make this understandable and engaging are wonderful. In the last 5 minutes he turns to the issue of the availability and usability of data (digital curation bells!!)

Rosling poses the question “why are we not using the data we have?” and answers:

“The data is hidden down in the databases. And the public is there, and the Internet is there but we have still not used it effectively. All that information we saw changing in the world [in the demonstration] does not include publicly funded statistics. There are some web pages like this …but people put prices on them, stupid passwords and boring statistics. And this won’t work!”

He then asks, "what is needed?" His answer - "linking data to design."

That’s where Gapminder comes in. The website describes its purpose as:

“… filling a gap. There has been a market failure in distributing global data. A lot of people are interested in the data, but don’t get access to it (and if they manage to access the data, they need to be advanced skilled statisticians to analyze it). Gapminder wants to make data more accessible and easier to use for instant visual analysis. We believe decision makers, politicians as well as education at almost all levels lack adequate tools.”
The software is proving popular with many. Ben Hyde has blogged:
"These gapminder charts are just marvelous. They are a exemplar of what we should expect from data presentation going forward. Printed data’s days are numbered."

My main thought here is that better access to the data and greater understanding of what it demonstrates can only be a good thing in terms of international health and development.

But also, the software is not limited to use with international health data. The usefulness of its application to all types of data is ripe for exploration!

See Peter Suber's blog post on this topic

Image by Ilya Eric Lee on Flickr CC-NC-ND

Internet users more powerful than the law?

An interesting news item on about a company at the forefront of the user-generated content movement that has chosen to risk legal action that may spell termination for the company, in place of disappointing its users. Digg, a website that ranks news stories according to its readers votes, has received cease and desist letters from entertainment companies after a number of its leading stories this week contained details of a secret code which unlocks the anti-piracy systems of DVDs. originally deleted the stories but after a massive user backlash allowed the stories to be posted In a U-turn that could open them to legal action.

Encryption codes like the one revealed on Digg are covered by the U.S.'s 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a controversial piece of legislation (read the U.S. Copyright office summary here).

Fred von Lohman, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in his blog that sites which carry the code or links to it are unlikely to be able to use a traditional defence of 'safe harbor'.

"While no court has ruled on the issue, AACS (the trade group for Advanced Access Content System Licensing) will almost certainly argue that the DMCA safe harbors do not protect online service providers who host or link to the key."

Read the news item here

See more about this story in:

The New York Times

The LA Times

The Guardian


Financial Times

Image by Darwin Bell on Flickr CC-BY-NC

Thursday 26 April 2007

World Intellectual Property Day 2007!

Today is World Intellectual Property Day 2007!

This year WIPO celebrates the link between intellectual property and creativity under the theme - Encouraging Creativity.

You can check out what activities are going on around the world to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day 2007 on WIPO’s website. Prize for the person who identifies the funniest one!

Image by Eszter on Flickr CC-BY-NC-SA

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Latest issue of FOI Journal out

Just a quickie!

The latest issue of Open Government has just been published. The journal's aim is to publish research and communications related to Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation from the perspective of academics, practitioners and FOI users. At only two years old it is a relatively new jounrnal (for obvious reasons!)


Thursday 19 April 2007

Magazine's archive online

I read an article in about Harper’s magazine putting articles from its 157 year archive online. This brings up licensing issues (what use(s) did the authors licence to Harper’s?) and also highlights the time and effort required for rights clearance activities. Harper's VP, public relations Giulia Melucci is reported to have said "In an ideal world we would have contacted all 40,000 writers living and dead." Presumably we can take from this that they didn’t.

Image by Geff Rossi on Flickr CC-BY-NC-ND

Friday 6 April 2007

User Generated Content - The Copyright Conundrum

This event looks interesting. Thanks to Sean Flynn for flagging it up. I'm afraid I can't make it but hopefully somone else can. Although it's taking place in the States there is a live webcast.

Sean's message was as follows:

Please join us for

User Generated Content: The Copyright Conundrum
April 10th | 4:00 pm — 6:00 pm
Reception to Follow
Washington College
of Law | Room 603

4801 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington D.C.


The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at the American University Washington College of Law and the Center for Social Media at the American University School of Communications, in collaboration with the DC Chapter of the Copyright Society of the USA, present a lively discussion on the implications of copyright law for makers of participatory media and the platforms on which it is displayed. The discussion will emphasize strategies to avoid or minimize risk of copyright liability. Panelists will include:

Sarah B. Deutsch
Vice President & Assoc. General Counsel

Alec French
Senior Counsel, Gov’t Relations
NBC Universal, Inc.

Fred von Lohmann
Sr. Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Steve Tapia
Sr. Attorney, Law & Corp. Affairs

Mike Remington
Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP

This event is open to the public. Your registration is appreciated to help our planning of the public reception following the panel. Registration, however, is not required to attend.



Monday 2 April 2007

Hot off the press - Next DCC Conference!

3rd International Digital Curation Conference 2007

The UK Digital Curation Centre (DCC), the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) are pleased to jointly announce the 3rd International Digital Curation Conference to be held on Wednesday 12th – Thursday 13th December 2007 at the Renaissance Washington Hotel in Washington DC, USA.

Entitled “Curating our Digital Scientific Heritage: a Global Collaborative Challenge” the conference will focus on emerging strategy, policy implementation, leading-edge research and practitioner experience, and will comprise a mix of peer-reviewed papers, invited presentations and keynote international speakers.

Further details and a Call for Papers will be published shortly at

The event will follow on from the Fall 2007 CNI Task Force meeting which will be held on Monday 10th – Tuesday 11th December, also at the Renaissance Washington Hotel, Washington DC.

More information about the DCC can be found at

Tuesday 27 March 2007

Blogs as new sources of research data - what about privacy?

Last week I went to an interesting workshop at the e-Science institute in Edinburgh called ‘New Kinds of Social Data: from Blogs to Administrative data'.

The meeting was targeted at researchers in academia and government and those concerned with long time archiving and access of social data. My primary interest was in the privacy and data protection implications of using these new data resources. A talk I found particularly interesting was given by Karen McCullagh, entitled ‘Blogs archives and privacy’.

Karen is currently working on her PhD. You can find out more about her research project here. The survey on 'Bloggers Privacy Expectations and Attitudes ' is no longer live but Karen hopes to make the results of this survey available at this link shortly.

All of the presentations from the workshop are available online.

Monday 26 March 2007

Google, YouTube and IP infringement

Interesting article by James Boyle in the Financial Times last week. He was talking about Google, YouTube and intellectual property infringements by major corporations.

Read the article

I particularly liked the following paragraph:

"When we are dealing with intellectual property, how do we know who is a trespasser and who is a greedy landowner trying to enclose the public right of way? First lesson, analogies to physical property are dangerous. Most of these disputes are about whether a new market, enabled by technology, should lie inside or outside the scope of the artificial monopoly conferred by the intellectual property right. Because these rights are created for a purpose - to foster and disseminate science, innovation and culture - there are inevitable "should" questions involved. Should copyright make it illegal for a search engine to index my book (which requires making a copy of it) if only a small fragment is available to a searcher and publishers can request removal? Google has a very good argument that copyright should not and does not make that illegal."

This relates to conversations I've been having with Peter Buneman recently about the appropriateness of the current copyright regime in a digital environment. More to follow on that one...

Thursday 22 March 2007

US to create a universal database of all its research results.

News that the US government is considering a massive plan to store almost all scientific data generated by federal agencies in publicly accessible digital repositories.

Read about it in

Wednesday 21 March 2007

Handy FOI Resource

I came across this useful Freedom of Information resource today:

If you have any questions about Freedom of Information, you could make a useful start here. Alternatively you could send your query to the DCC on as we'd be happy to help you.

Friday 16 March 2007

UNESCO publishes survey on ethical implications of emerging technologies

UNESCO has published a survey of the ethical implications of emerging technologies. The technologies covered include the semantic web and metadata, radio-frequency identification, the geospatial web and location based services, mesh networking and grid computing. For the ‘technologically-challenged’ amongst us (I count myself in this group) the report starts with a very useful overview of the technologies covered. It then sets out two “Infoethics Goals for Neutral Technologies”. These are:

(1) Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; and

(2) Access to Information and Communication (which is split into Public Domain, Diversity of Content on Information Networks and Unfettered Access to Information)

Amongst the recommendations made at the end of the report is the establishment of a community of technologists to protect personal data. The authors, Mary Rundle and Chris Conley state that:

the control of personal data flow will prove pivotal for the exercise of human rights and access to information in the Information Society. This factor is one of the most important identified in this survey of “Ethical Implications of Emerging Technologies” as technology will increasingly have potential to be used to wield control over people’s existence.”

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Google assisting in massive data swaps

I'm a bit tardy in reporting this one but there was an interesting article on the BBC website recently about how Google is helping academics around the world to exchange huge amounts of data.

The firm's open source team is working on ways to physically transfer huge data sets up to 120 terabytes in size. Google sends scientists a hard drive system and then copies it before passing it on to other researchers. It hopes that one day the data it helps to swap will be available to the public.

On the legal perspective the article says,
Google keeps a copy and the data is always in an open format, or in the public domain or perhaps covered by a creative commons license

A bit vague...?

Monday 26 February 2007

Move towards cross-border licensing for e-resources

A couple of interesting items came my way today via the JISC Collections Weekly Update. Firstly, the announcement that Knowledge Exchange – an umbrella organisation of four national ICT bodies – has begun a multinational tender process to explore with publishers the possibility of cross-border licensing arrangements. JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) reports that:

"with national licensing agreements for online resources well established in the four countries – the UK, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands – the aim of the initiative is to explore whether further economies of scale can be secured and new and innovative business models developed through an international approach."

You can find further information here.
Secondly, JISC are running a licensing workshop on Copyright in the Digital Age on 30 March in London. The workshop will focus on digital copying and issues relating to sharing between collaborative institutions. Understanding copyright is a key issue in digital curation, as when people are unsure of their legal rights and responsibilities they are sometimes reluctant to act and afraid to use resources.
You can find more details and register on the JISC Collections website.

Monday 19 February 2007

Communication from the Commission - Scientific Publishing in the Digital Age

The Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic Committee on Scientific Information in the Digital Age: Access, Dissemination and Preservation (a bit of a mouthful) was brought to my attention today. Thanks to Neil Beagrie at the British Library for that.

It's a reasonably short document that is well worth a look because, as well as its coverage of digital preservation, it gives attention to some of the relevant legal issues in this area. It discusses the practice of assigning copyright in journal articles and, more interestingly, the differences when you are dealing with research data, where the Database Directive
becomes relevant and (arguably) a cause for concern. The Communication also highlights legal deposit as a central issue for the preservation of digital scientific information.

Friday 16 February 2007

SCRIPT-ed online journal

Wondering what I should write about in my first post to this Blog (or should I say Blawg?) Well, I’m just back from a meeting of the editorial board of the SCRIPT-ed journal so I think I’ll write about that.

SCRIPT-ed describes it self as “an online, international, interdisciplinary and multi-lingual forum for articles, reports, commentaries, analysis, case and legislation critiques, and book reviews pertaining to law and technologies in the broadest sense.”

SCRIPT-ed is the online journal of the AHRC Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law based in the School of Law at the University Edinburgh. The AHRC Research Centre…(it’s a very long name) is a friend of the DCC and provides legal input on digital curation issues.

The journal covers a lot of interesting topics. The current issue is December 2006 and there will be new one out on the 15th of March. Check it out!