Friday 23 October 2009

Final post

A short and final post to let you know the DCC Blawg has come to an end. As part of the Phase III restructuring of the DCC there will be some changes in the coming months. One of these is that the DCC will no longer have a legal component.

Should you have any queries about the legal aspects of your digital curation activities you may find the JISC Legal service a useful source of guidance.

Best wishes

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

Thursday 15 October 2009

New data protection resources

The DCC has published a new standards watch paper on BS 10012 Data Protection — Specification for a Personal Information Management System.

The standard, which is the first British standard for the management of personal information was introduced in May this year. It was developed by the British Standards Insitute (BSI) to provide a framework that enables effective management of personal information, paving the way for an infrastructure for maintaining and improving compliance with data protection legislation.

Take a read of the new DCC Standards Watch Paper here.

In related news, BSI has launched BSI Data Protection Online, a tool designed to help organisations with the effective management of personal information.

Research carried out by BSI earlier this year found that many organisations are falling behind in their approach to data protection, with almost one in five surveyed admitting to unwittingly breaching the Data Protection Act.

The new online self-assessment tool offers guidance and self-assessment in support of BS 10012. It is applicable to any organisation that holds personal information, regardless of its size, complexity and sector. It allows organisations to undertake a self-assessment process against the requirements of BS 10012 and embed data protection best practice within the organisation.

Specifically, the resource will allow you to:
• Undertake a self-assessment process against the requirements of BS 10012
• Get contextual help throughout the process, written by data protection experts
• Start new, or amend existing, self-assessments whenever needed allowing you to track your progress
• Share self-assessments with colleagues and embed data protection best practice within your organization.

Mike Low, Director, Standards, BSI, said:
"Our recent survey showed that there are many organisations out there struggling with data protection. With the Information Commissioner’s growing compulsory audit powers it is more important than ever to make sure that your data protection practices are up to scratch. If you hold personal information, whether it relates to staff, clients, customers or members, you need to be familiar with current legislation and confident that your own organisation measures up."

Digital Evidence Workshops

We wanted to let you know about a series of workshops on the subject of digital evidence taking place next week at Liverpool University. These will investigate how digital information should be considered in court; and the consequential need to create new rules of evidence based not on tradition but on how digital information actually comes into creation.

The public workshops take place over three days and are as follows:

Tue 20 October - International compliance requirements (EU perspective) using iRODS data grid as policy engine (Reagan Moore / Stephen Mason)
Wed 21 October - General NARA presentation (Reagan Moore / Jason Baron)
Thur 22 October - eDiscovery and eRetention (Jason Baron)

All days are free of charge. If you are interested in attending please contact Paul Watry -

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Press release - JISC Collections to acquire Content Complete Ltd

You may be interested in the following press release from the JISC Collections service:

“JISC Collections, the organisation which manages the acquisition and provision of digital resources for universities and colleges in the UK, has reached an agreement to acquire Content Complete Ltd, the Oxfordshire-based licensing and negotiations company.

Content Complete was established in 2003 by Albert Prior and Paul Harwood with the aim of supporting organisations involved in licensing scholarly online content. The Company provides an outsourced service, representing clients in direct negotiations with publishers on pricing
and licensing issues. Content Complete employs seven staff and has a range of clients in the academic, health and corporate sectors.

For the last six years, Content Complete has been JISC Collections' Negotiation Agent for NESLi2, the UK's online journal initiative for the higher education and research communities and has delivered significant savings as a result of this focused and centralised approach. The company has also worked very closely with JISC Collections on a range of projects and activities in this area including archiving, usage data, online journal business models and, more recently, e-textbooks.”

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Digital Britain - Implementation Plan

The UK government has released the details of how it will implement the recommendations in its Digital Britain report. The Digital Britain report was a government commissioned study published in June of this year that made recommendations for how the government could deal with online piracy, extend broadband internet access, and better regulate digital broadcasting.

Responsibility for putting the Digital Britain Report into action will be shared by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The implementation plan confirms that there will be a Digital Economy Bill, published in the autumn.

The plan is available here.

Some of the key paragraphs in the original report from my legal/digital curation perspective were:

Modernising Licensing
33. The UK copyright framework is 300 years old this year. But it has not stood
still. Copyright has had to evolve continually to meet the technological
challenges of photography, the gramophone, film, television, the video recorder,
the photocopier and latterly the Internet and the World Wide Web. And
copyright needs to evolve further in the digital age.

38. The Copyright Strategy’s focus is long term, and global. The Digital Britain
report focuses on what needs to be done in the UK. Much of copyright law is
an EU competence and the UK must work within that European framework.
Nonetheless, the Digital Britain work and the IPO’s copyright strategy work
have shown that, in addition to completing the work of Gowers in this area,
there are changes that could be made at national level which would aid the
process of implementing Digital Britain.

47. As part of the Government’s desire to encourage inexpensive but legal
consumer access to digital content, we will also make some changes to the
legislative framework around copyright licensing, to tackle problems such as
those surrounding the use of so-called orphan works and thus help digital
markets in those works to develop.

Data Security and Assurance
52.The issue of privacy and security of data online is a serious and growing one.
A small number of high-profile cases have demonstrated the strong feelings
that data privacy can provoke, and the complex relationship we have to the
handling of different types of personal data and different types of consent.

53. It is an issue that is likely to become more and more important over the coming
months. Research conducted by the Communications Consumer Panel earlier
this year confirmed that this is an area of particular concern for consumers and
new business models such as targeted advertising and new services such as
Google’s Streetview have taken this issue to front of the public’s mind.

54. If handled properly, new business models such as targeted advertising could be
important revenue earners because, as Meglena Kuneva, EU Consumer Affairs
Commissioner said in March this year: “Personal data is the new oil of the
Internet and the new currency of the digital world.”

55. The ICO and the Information Commissioner have taken the initiative in
addressing the principles which should apply to the use of personal data,
building on the bare legal requirements of the Data Protection Act and focusing
on ways in which businesses and individuals can mitigate risks from the
provision and use of online data. Businesses that collect and use personal data
for commercial purposes are required to respect user rights including access to
personal data. Businesses are legally responsible to the ICO. We support the
ICO’s plans to develop a new code of practice “Personal Information
Online” for consultation later this year.

79. Public Service data and content play an increasingly important role in the
digital economy. The Government has embraced the vision of the Power of
Information Task Force and, in respect of important data sources for innovation,
such as geospatial data, agencies are significantly improving access to data and
clearer licensing pathways from innovation to large scale commercial use.

80 Government commissioning represents a third of the total investment in
professional UK online content. Despite existing guidance many public online
commissions still prohibit the re-use of IP. This leads to wasteful warehousing
of rights. NESTA will pilot a simplified IP framework for digital media bringing
together PACT, the Cabinet Office, Kew Gardens and Arts Council England.

Monday 24 August 2009

Safe Storage and Transfer of Research Data - Free Seminar

For those of you in, or near Edinburgh, the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (WTCRF) is running a free lunchtime seminar on Wednesday 23rd September on the topic of ‘Safe Storage and Transfer of Research Data’.

The seminar will provide an update on the current policies for storing and transferring data (which have been recently revised) and will also provide an opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions. It is particularly relevant to both NHS Lothian and University of Edinburgh staff, and especially those who work across both institutions.

For more details please see the WTCRF site

Tuesday 11 August 2009

IPR and Licensing Workshops - London

The Strategic Content Alliance is running a series of free IPR and Licensing workshops over the Autumn in London. These are aimed at policy makers and practitioners involved in the delivery of online content and services over the internet.

The practical workshops are designed to appeal anyone involved in the digital content lifecycle from creation to curation. They will provide an update about the IPR and licensing issues associated with the use and generation of digital content, recent case law, the types of tools which can be used to manage the issues provided through the toolkit, as well as an opportunity to test the tools against specific scenarios. The events will provide an opportunity to evaluate and critique the SCA IPR and Licensing Toolkit, recently created by Naomi Korn and Professor Charles Oppenheim.

There are three dates to choose from:
Thursday 8th October 2009,
Monday 26th October 2009, or
Thursday 12th November 2009.

The workshops will take place at MLA London, Fourth Floor, 53-56 Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DG from 11:00 – 15:30 (including a free lunch).

Wednesday 5 August 2009

New journal on the topic of open source software law

A short post to alert you to a new journal on the topic on open source software law.

The International Free and Open Source Software Law Review (IFOSS L. Rev.) is a collaborative legal publication aiming to increase knowledge and understanding among lawyers about Free and Open Source Software issues. Topics covered include copyright, licence implementation, licence interpretation, software patents, open standards, case law and
statutory changes.

I found the Foreword by Iain G Mitchell QC a rewarding read.

I particularly enjoyed his use of this excellent quote from Stewart Brand:

"Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine - too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, 'intellectual property', the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better."
The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT

Monday 3 August 2009

Implementing open data....and fruit skewers

Had an enjoyable day at the Beyond the Repository Fringe on Friday. Thanks a lot to the organisers.

The highlight for me was the tutorial from Jordan Hatcher & Jo Walsh on Implementing Open Data.

Jordan’s run down of the legal tools offered by Open Data Commons was useful. I was previously aware of these but thought it might be helpful to give a quick summary for those of you who are interested but couldn’t make it. For more details see

  • Public Domain Dedication and Licence (PDDL) This is a tool for putting your data and databases into the public domain. It demonstrates your desire to relinquish or waive your rights, effectively dedicating the data and database to the public domain. Because there can be some difficulty with waiving rights in certain jurisdictions it also licenses those same rights.
  • Community Norms Statement (CNS) Open Data Commons encourages the creation and use of a CNS as a complementary tool to the PDDL. A CNS sets out the general principles that those who use the data should adhere to. There is no set text for the CNSs as each community creates their own. However, you can see an example here. These are not legal documents so are not binding.
  • Open Database Licence (ODbL) This is a tool to allow users to freely share, modify, and use a database, while maintaining the same freedom for others. The licensor allows others to use the database freely while retaining rights them self rather than giving all rights up to the public domain. The ODbL includes a share-alike condition but imposes no constraint on field of endeavour so does not have a non-commercial element. The final version of this was launched just a month ago on 29th June.
  • Database Contents Licence (DbCL) This works alongside the ODbL. It waives all the rights in the individual contents of the database which is licensed under the ODbL. It does not cover database rights or database copyright.

P.S. loving the fruit skewers! Well done whoever thought of them.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Beyond the Repository Fringe

There’s a quirky event taking place in Edinburgh later this week that you may want to consider attending. Beyond the Repository Fringe 09 takes place in the Informatics forum at the University of Edinburgh on the 30th and 31st July Details of the programme are available here.

I'm particularly interested in two parts of the event. Firstly, the Digital Curation 101 ‘Lite’ tutorial (naturally!) that is being run for members of the DCC Associates Network. Secondly, what promises to be an interesting tutorial by Jordan Hatcher and Jo Walsh on implementing open data. They will be talking about the work of the Open Knowledge Foundation, including CKAN and Knowledge Forge. This will be followed with an in-depth session on the legal side of open data, including the new legal tools available through Open Data Commons, including a database specific copyleft license.

Registration (which is free) for Beyond the Repository Fringe 09 is available here.

See you there?

Thursday 23 July 2009

FOI and preservation

Michael Wills, the UK’s Justice Minister has announced the publication of a new Code of Practice on managing digital and other records. He said

"Freedom of Information depends on good record keeping and the preservation of information is important if we are to further increase transparency in public life. The updated Code of Practice is a significant step in ensuring that key records remain accessible to public bodies for day to day business and are preserved for future generations."

The Code makes the excellent point (Introduction, para iv) that “Freedom of information legislation is only as good as the quality of the records and other information to which it provides access.” I couldn’t agree more.

The Code recommends public bodies across the country introduce a strategy for the preservation of digital records to ensure that they can continue to be accessed and used and are resilient to future changes in technology.

Click here to read the announcement on the Ministry of Justice website.

Click here to read the new Code Of Practice.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

First British Standard in Data Protection

You may have read recently about the introduction of the first British Standard dealing specifically with Data Protection.

BS10012 Data protection. Specification for a personal information management system has been developed to establish best practice and aid compliance with data protection legislation. It is the first standard for the management of personal information.

The British Standards Institute website explains that BS10012 “specifies the requirements for a personal information management system (PIMS), which provides an infrastructure for, among other things, maintaining and improving compliance with the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998.”

The new standard does not prescribe exactly how operations should be run, but instead provides a framework which will enable effective management of personal information. It is intended that it be used by organizations of any size and sector to create a tailored management system which includes procedures in areas such as training and awareness, risk assessment, data sharing, retention and disposal of data and disclosure to third parties.

The DCC will be publishing a Standards Watch Paper written by Sarah Higgins on BS10012 shortly. I will be sure to let you know once this is out.

For more information on the Data Protection Act please see this DCC Briefing Paper on the topic.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Facebook accused of breaching Canadian privacy laws

The BBC reported on Friday that Canada's Privacy Commissioner has recommended steps to ensure social networking site Facebook protects the privacy of Canadian users of the service, and meets requirements of Canadian privacy legislation. The Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart laid out the findings of a report which said Facebook's information about privacy practices was "often confusing or incomplete", and urged the site to make its policies more transparent to users.

One area of breach is Facebook's policy of holding on to subscribers' personal information, even after their accounts had been deactivated.

It was also criticised for failing to adequately restrict access of users' personal details to some of the 950,000 developers in 180 countries who provide applications, such as games, for the site.

It is reported that Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly has said Facebook is working with the Canadian commission to resolve the issues.

For more information you can read the news release on the website of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada or look at the report itself.

Friday 17 July 2009

Digital Curation Conference deadline extended

Some of you may be interested in submitting a paper to this conference. The conference organisers are interested in receiving papers on a range of legal and policy issues, including: Creative Commons, special licences, the public domain and other approaches for re-use, questions of privacy, consent, and embargo.

5th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC09)
Moving to Multi-Scale Science: Managing Complexity and Diversity.
2 – 4 December 2009, Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London, UK.
We are pleased to announce that the Paper Submission date for IDCC09 has been extended by 2 weeks to Friday 7 August 2009:
Remember that submissions should be in the form of a full or short paper, or a one page abstract for a poster, workshop or demonstration.
Presenting at the conference offers you the chance to:-

* Share good practice, skills and knowledge transfer
* Influence and inform future digital curation policy & practice
* Test out curation resources and toolkits
* Explore collaborative possibilities and partnerships
* Engage educators and trainers with regard to developing digital curation skills for the future

Speakers at the conference will include:-

* Timo Hannay – Publishing Director,
* Professor Douglas Kell – Chief Executive of the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
* Dr. Ed Seidel, Director of the National Science Foundation’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure

All papers accepted for the conference will be published in the International Journal of Digital Curation

Sent on behalf of the Programme Committee –

co-chaired by Chris Rusbridge, Director of the Digital Curation Centre, Liz Lyon, Director of UKOLN and Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

FOI for Researchers workshop in Glasgow

Some of you may be interested in attending this useful upcoming workshop being held by the Research Information Network.

Freedom of Information: what’s in it for researchers?” is being held on the
14 September from 10:00 to 16:00 at The Lighthouse, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU

The Research Information Network is holding this free event to raise awareness of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) as a tool for researchers and to aid understanding of the access regime. The day will cover how to use FOI to access records and information and how to make successful requests. Case studies will be presented to explore how to use FOI in practice, offering strategies for what works well for particular disciplines and types of research and insights will be provided from the Scottish perspective.

Key speakers:
• Professor Duncan Tanner – Director, Welsh Institute for Social and Cultural Affairs, Bangor University
• Sarah Hutchinson - Head of Policy and Information, Scottish Information Commissioner
• Bruno Longmore – Head of Government Records, National Archives of Scotland
• Hugh Hagan – Senior Inspecting Officer Government Records Branch, National Archives of Scotland

The workshop is aimed at academic researchers; other research workers, such as journalists; librarians, archivists and other information professionals who provide research services and research training; compliance officers interested in facilitating access and advising requestors and public policy makers in the access to information arena.

Click here for the full programme, more information or to book a free place.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Training in licensing electronic resources

Here’s a course coming up in September for those looking for an introduction to the licensing of electronic resources.

Licences and their Negotiation
To be held in : The City Suite, Thistle City Hotel, Barbican, London, EC1V 8DS
24th September 2009, 9.30-16.30

Course Outline
This practical one day training event is designed to provide Information Professionals with an introduction to the licensing of electronic resources such as e books, e journals and abstracting and indexing services. This course has been designed to introduce the major components of such licences and why they are important, what are the issues that are likely to cause the greatest difficulty, and will introduce issues related to the fine art of negotiating.

Click here for more details on the UKeiG website.

Friday 5 June 2009

Curation and consent. How much is too much?

I’m researching a DCC Legal Watch Paper at the moment, focussing on consent in research (looking at both the legal and the ethical angles). I have been thinking about all this from a curation perspective. With the potential for reuse of resources or data being an important goal in terms of curation, a key question arises which is:

“What use of their data did the participant consent to?”

The answer to this question has a massive bearing on the useability of that data down the line.

So, for example, did the participant consent to:

  1. only use A (by researcher A); or
  2. use A but by any researcher; or
  3. use A (by researcher A) and use B (by researcher B); or
  4. researcher A transferring the data to researcher B (crucial if option 3 is to be of any practical use and only researcher A has the data); or
  5. use of their data by anyone for any purposes.

Of course, some of the answers could be found in the wording of the consent form (N.B. consent is rarely required by law to be in writing but it is still very wise to secure it that way) but my question is about the picture behind it and the legal and ethical appropriateness of what is written in that form – as well as the effectiveness of that consent for enabling scientific progress.

In an era of open approaches to data, the idea of global consent is quite appealing. It ensures that useful data remains useable (IP and contract considerations aside) and ‘open’. But consenting to any use of your personal data...? It has been said that one of the best things about making data open is the things that will be done with it and created by other researchers that you simply would never have thought of. But when it comes to your personal data (i.e. data about you, that identifies you) are you happy to give consent for it to be used in ways you have never imagined? The answer to this may be yes or no, and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Aside from personal feelings on this matter, would such a wide consent be considered legal? Would it be ethical?

What do you think?

Monday 27 April 2009

Open Innovation & Intellectual Property

There will be what looks to be a great event taking place in London in a few weeks time. I’ll be in sunny Italy (tough life) but if I wasn’t I’d definitely be there.

The event is called Open Innovation and Intellectual Property and takes place on Friday15th May at NESTA offices in the City from 1pm.

The description from NESTA is as follows:

“NESTA, The Wellcome Trust and the Creative Commons is jointly hosting a conference to explore how Commons tools can unlock innovation by making it easier for artists, scientists, researchers and businesses to share, collaborate and build on the work of others. Much innovation today is hampered by a lack of access to existing data, content and facilities. In sectors such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, a lack of openness leads to duplication of existing research activities and significant effort down blind allies. In the creative industries, the absence of simple, standardised licensing arrangements which establish usage rights is holding back innovative online business models. Yet it is sectors such as biotechnology and the creative industries which are otherwise best placed to lead the UK out of recession.

One solution is the adoption of the ‘Commons’ model of intellectual property. The commercial and wider social benefits of using the Commons model to address the barriers to sharing are potentially huge. It is estimated, for example, that there are already 130 million Creative Commons licensed works in the world, an over six-fold increase since 2005. And large numbers of service providers are appearing with new business models to "lubricate" the Commons marketplace for knowledge, services and resources.

NESTA’s conference will explore the impact of the Creative Commons to date, and debate its strengths and weaknesses as a model for supporting innovation. In science, the case of the health sector may be particularly compelling: under traditional drug development models, a well-funded research group starting today has a slim chance at getting a drug to market by 2025. Can a Health Commons speeden up drug discovery? In the creative industries, film, games and music businesses point to the way intellectual property rights are managed as a barrier to innovation. Can more widespread adoption of Creative Commons licenses support new business models for the sector?”

Speakers include:

  • James Boyle (Creative Commons)
  • John Wilbanks (Science Commons)
  • David Lammy (IP Minister)
  • Sir John Sulston (Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation)
  • Tony Wood (Pfizer)
  • Iain Wilcocks (Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property)
  • Richard Mollet (British Phonographic Industry)

If you go, please do let me know anything interesting that comes up! :-)

DCC Legal Watch Paper on Science Commons

Hello all,

Long time no speak. I’ve not been around for a while and in my absence have neglected to tell you that the DCC Science Commons Legal Watch Paper I mentioned was published back at the beginning of March.

If you’re interested, you can take a read here.

Feedback always welcome!

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Making FOI requests easy (plus people power!)

Some time ago I mentioned the development by of a new site to help people make Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from different parts of government.

Well its called WhatDoTheyKnow? …and here it is! is doing the internet rounds today because their site TheyWorkForYou was instrumental in the cancellation of the vote on exempting details of MP’s expenses from the FOI Act.

So if making FOI queries is something you’re interested in, this site will make it very easy for you.

The site also archives the responses on the web for others to use. A good example of data curation!