Wednesday 30 January 2008

Egypt to Copyright Pyramids

I missed this interesting copyright story over Christmas. The Egyptian government announced a proposed law that will require royalties to be paid when copies are made of artifacts or monuments such as the sphinx or the pyramids. Only exact, to-scale replicas would be subject to royalties. Copyright experts have questioned whether the law would be enforceable internationally.

What do you think of this?

You can check out coverage of the story below:


National Geographic

Slashdot (what a great name for a site!)

Open Data: An interview with Peter Murray-Rust

You may have already seen this but if not do take a look at Richard Poynder’s interview with Peter Murray-Rust. It’s so informative. The links to relevant documents, sites and blog posts are invaluable.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Great new FOI resource!....coming soon to a computer near you

You may have heard of a group called They’re a charitable organisation that builds websites that give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives. They’ve built loads of really useful websites such as PledgeBank, TheyWorkforYou and FixMyStreet. I’ve been an admirer and user of their sites for some time.

Well they have another one in the offing and this time it’s based on Freedom of Information legislation

The new site will help people make Freedom of Information requests from different parts of government. It will then archive the responses on the web.

Keep your eyes peeled!

… oh go on then – I’ll make sure I tell you so there’s no hard work involved for you!

New Journal!

A new journal has been brought to my attention called Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology.

You can find the launch issue online at

The following announcement was released:

"The Berkeley Electronic Press is pleased to announce the launch of a new
peer-reviewed journal in law, policy, and technology. Studies in Ethics,
Law, and Technology examines the ethical and
legal issues that arise from emerging technologies. Topics include biotech,
nanotech, neurotech, IT, weapons, energy and fuel, space-based technology,
and new media and communications. Articles explore the synergy between law
and ethics, and provide a robust policy response to technology's
opportunities and challenges."

The launch issue focuses on questions of human enhancement, a topic I know little about. It will be interesting to keep an eye out for the themes of future issues in what promises to be an interesting journal.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Digital Copyright: opportunities and practicalities

Are you coming across copyright issues in the delivery of digital content? There is an event coming up in London on 22 February that may be of use to you.

Digital Copyright: opportunities and practicalities
Presented in association with Naomi Korn, copyright consultant.

Copyright is a current and important topic for many organisations, particularly those that are considering digitising and delivering digital content in order to make sure that their rights are not infringed upon and their assets are fully exploited. This all-day course will focus upon participant's experiences and case studies. It
will encourage group work and discussion around key areas, whilst focusing on current topics and real world digital issues. This course will appeal to everyone currently digitising content or thinking of embarking on a digital project who wishes to learn more about rights issues. Participants are invited to bring case studies and outlines of current projects to the session.

By the end of the day, participants will:

* Encounter the key issues relating to digital copyright
* Know the importance of managing and protecting their rights
* Share experiences and good practice tips with other participants
* Gain knowledge about how best practice can
be embedded within their daily work

Naomi Korn is an experienced trainer and consultant, specialising in copyright, IPR, licencing and digital rights management. She has
worked for many years with museums, galleries, archives, libraries and the higher/further education sector. She was the former copyright officer at the Tate and has contributed to many international projects. She is currently MDA's IP Officer and chair of MDA's IP Advisory Committee for Collections.

Sessions include:

* Copyright in a global environment: overview of
the legal landscape and key issues
* Digitisation and copyright: what can you digitise and when should you?
* Digital Rights Exploitation: generating income from copyright
* Delivering content on the web: practical tips for protecting your rights
* Institutional Intellectual Property Audit
* Digital Rights management: solutions and shortcuts
* Case studies

For further details and booking click here.

Courses are £140 (no VAT) per person and are
based in London at King's College London.

Tuesday 15 January 2008

We’re All Copyright Managers!

Here is a short article by Lesley Ellen Harris which she has recently posted on a number of mailing lists. In the piece she highlights the increasing need for non-lawyers to understand copyright laws. Take heed!

Librarians Without Lawyers
Librarians Acting as Copyright Managers

Copyright Law Affects Us All

Copyright law is complicated - even for lawyers - and even for copyright lawyers who deal with copyright issues on a daily basis. Yet because of the application of the law in a broad variety of sectors, individuals with no legal backgrounds must learn about copyright law to protect their own works, negotiate permissions for others to use their content, interpret licenses for the use of online content, work within a regime governed by copyright law, and generally manage a variety of copyright issues. Visual artists, writers, photographers and filmmakers are all in professions where their income is based on copyright law. Educators, librarians, archivists and other information professionals are involved in daily activities which must be undertaken within the confines of copyright law. With the Internet, often all of these non-lawyers must understand international copyright treaties and foreign copyright laws as well as the copyright laws in their own countries – at least on a practical level.

Interpreting Fair Use/Dealing

In fact, certain provisions in copyright statutes like the U.S. fair use, or fair dealing, are intended for individuals to interpret. Therefore, if an artist wants to create an artistic work incorporating works of others, that artist must determine whether her use is fair use/dealing as if a judge in a court were deciding that same issue based on those particular circumstances. The same is true for a librarian or educator photocopying print material for use for her patrons or colleagues, or trying to explain to someone why free content obtained on the Internet is not necessarily free to forward (as opposed to forwarding a link to access that same content).

Non-Lawyers Interpreting the Law

Of course, some individuals may be able to benefit from in-house legal advice. Authors of books may sometimes rely upon the advice of their publishers' attorneys. However, many author agreements put the burden on the individual author to ensure that an author's work does not infringe upon the rights of others and that all proper copyright permissions have been obtained. Those who work in universities or larger organizations may have access to their in-house attorneys for advice on copyright issues. But even with such access, many individuals complain that the advice or answers take too long to obtain and that they must analyze the copyright issues themselves in order to get on with their work.

There are many librarians and content owners who continually are negotiating permissions and licenses to copyright-protected works and who have much more practical experience than any attorney. These are often our colleagues with whom we can gain much insight.

Copyright Manager

The reality in copyright-based industries is that individuals must understand copyright law, contract law, litigation issues, risk management and be effective negotiators. Many enterprises now have positions occupied by non-lawyers that relate to copyright. Often, these positions are filled by information professionals. For instance, a Copyright Officer may be responsible for copyright management issues. A Licensing Officer may be responsible for negotiating digital licenses, and explaining the legal uses of digital content within their enterprise. Non-lawyers who are put in a "copyright management" position should take some comfort from the recognition that they are not alone.

The article is published in SLA Information Outlook, January 2008.

Conflict between copyright and data protection - talk tomorrow

For those in the Edinburgh, UK area you may be interested in a free talk talking place at the law school tomorrow by visiting professor, Margaret Ann Wilkinson.

Professor Wilkinson is speaking about conflict between copyright and data protection - an unusual coupling. I have seen discussions of the conflict between copyright and freedom of information, or data protection and freedom of information but I have not seen someone discuss a conflict between copyright and data protection before so this will hopefully be interesting.

"Wednesday 16th January 2008 at 13:00

Lecture Theatre G.270, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh

"Battleground between new and old orders: control conflicts between copyright and personal data protection."

Professor Margaret Ann Wilkinson

School of Law, University of Western Ontario

Professor Wilkinson is Director of the Area of Concentration in Intellectual Property, Information and Technology Law. Prior to her graduate studies, Professor Wilkinson practiced law in Toronto for several years. She first joined the Faculty of Law in 1991. In 1992, she became jointly appointed to the Faculty of Law and the then Graduate School of Library and Information Science, now the Faculty of Information and Media Studies. She retains her supervisory status for doctoral students in Library and Information Science and her supervisory status in the Graduate Program in Law, but is, since 2007, fully appointed to the Faculty of Law.

She is also an Adjunct Professor at The Richard Ivey School of Business. Her thesis on "The Impact of the Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 upon Affected Organizations", won the American Society for Information Science Doctoral Dissertation Award. Professor Wilkinson has spoken and published in the areas of intellectual property, information policy and information and media law, as well as in the areas of management, professionalism and professional ethics.

All Welcome"

I will post some notes on this in the coming weeks.

Monday 7 January 2008

New Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data

First day back today - I have some exciting law/digital curation news for you.

You may remember my posts back in October about the development of an open data commons database licence. Well, work on this has progressed and just before Christmas Science Commons announced a protocol for implementing open access data. The announcement was as follows:

"Today, in conjunction with the Creative Commons 5th Birthday celebration, Science Commons announces the Protocol for Implementing Open Access Data (”the Protocol”).

The Protocol is a method for ensuring that scientific databases can be legally integrated with one another. The Protocol is built on the public domain status of data in many countries (including the United States) and provides legal certainty to both data deposit and data use. The protocol is not a license or legal tool in itself, but instead a methodology for a) creating such legal tools and b) marking data already in the public domain for machine-assisted discovery.

You can read the Protocol here.

We built the Protocol after a year- long process of meetings and consultations with a broad set of stakeholders, including representatives of the geospatial and biodiversity science communities. We solicited input from international representatives from China, Uganda, Brazil, Japan, France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Peru, Belgium, Catalonia and Spain.

We expect to convert this work into a working group with founding members from our existing communities of practice. However, the world is moving very quickly in terms of data production, and as such we created the Protocol as a guide and as a tool to bring together the existing data licensing regimes into a single space.

As part of that decision, Science Commons has worked with data licensing thought leaders and is pleased to announce partnerships with Jordan Hatcher, the lawyer behind the Open Database License; Talis, the company behind the Open Database License process; and the Open Knowledge Foundation, creators of the Open Knowledge Definition.

Jordan has drafted the Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License - the first legal tool to fully implement the Protocol. It is available at his Web site. This draft is remarkable not just for the Public Domain Dedication but for the encoding of scholarly and scientific norms into a standalone, non-legal document. This is a key element of the Protocol and a major milestone in the fight for Open Access data. Talis, a company with a strong history in the open science data movement, played a key role in birthing Jordan’s work, and we’re pleased to work with them as well.

We are also pleased to announce that the Open Knowledge Foundation has certified the Protocol as conforming to the Open Knowledge Definition. We think it’s important to avoid legal fragmentation at the early stages, and that one way to avoid that fragmentation is to work with the existing thought leaders like the OKF.

We will be launching a wiki for comments on the Protocol soon, and will announce a strategy for versioning the Protocol in 2008."

I'll keep you updated!