British Library urges new approaches to copyright

The British Library has a formal role in advising Government and solicited views (including mine) on the aspects of copyright in relation to research and scholarship. Here’s some of their conclusions which hopefully the Government will take on board and consider in relation to changing (yes, changing) copyright law. Looking at them there is a clear indication that the BL will be arguing for the benefit of relaxed copyright for research purposes and that should be an important contribution to text-mining and data-driven research.

From Open Access blog:

Adapting UK copyright law to accommodate research

Copyright – what is the future for education and research? A press release from the British Library, May 5, 2009.  (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)  Excerpt:

…[L]eading figures in UK education and research today met at the British Library to explore the tensions and opportunities surrounding the role of copyright law in an increasingly digital knowledge economy….

At this morning’s debate, Chief Executive of the British Library Dame Lynne Brindley launched the Library’s campaign to ensure that copyright issues of importance to the research and education sector are included in the ongoing public debate on copyright and are reflected in any subsequent legislation, rules or regulations resulting from recent Government initiatives. These suggestions include:

  1. Public Interest – Many contracts undermine the public interest exceptions in copyright law agreed by Parliament to foster education, learning and creativity. Addressing this issue is crucial so that existing and new exceptions are not over-ridden by contract law.
  2. Preserving our cultural heritage – Libraries must be able to make preservation of copies of the material they acquire, including web harvesting of the UK domain.
  3. Orphan works – 40% of the British Library’s collections are Orphan Works (where the rightsholder can no longer be found or traced). A legislative solution to Orphan Works would help provide access to the UK’s large historical collections over the internet.
  4. Fair Dealing – Researchers and libraries need to be able to make available “fair dealing copies” of anything in their collections, including sound and film recordings that Fair Dealing does not currently relate to.
  5. Technology Neutral – Computer based research techniques, such as scientific research, needs to be allowed by future copyright law, in the same way that in the analogue world research activity is protected through “fair dealing”….

Dame Lynne added: “There is a supreme irony that just as technology is allowing greater access to books and other creative works than ever before for education and research, new restrictions threaten to lock away digital content in a way we would never countenance for printed material. Let’s not wake up in five years” time and realise we have unwittingly lost a fundamental building block for innovation, education and research in the UK.” …

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