Digital Preservation and Copyright: An International Study


  • June M. Besek
  • Jessica Coates
  • Brian Fitzgerald
  • Wilma Mossink
  • William G. LeFurgy
  • Adrienne Muir
  • Mary Rasenberger
  • Christopher D. Weston



The aim of the International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation was to review current copyright and related laws and their impact on digital preservation, as well as to make recommendations to help libraries, archives and other preservation institutions sustain digital works. Study partners are based in Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. The study found that, in many cases, digital works are not being preserved in a systematic way. This is partly because digital preservation entails more difficult copyright issues than preservation of non-digital material. All the surveyed countries have some form of exception for preservation activities. However, there is inconsistency in the details between the countries’ laws and uncertainty in how they apply in the digital environment. None of the countries surveyed have a uniform national system yet for collecting digital materials. Technological protection measures and licensing arrangements may, in some cases, present significant practical barriers to preservation. Current approaches to address these barriers are ad hoc and include requesting permissions from individual rights holders and some use of model licence terms that permit preservation. Moreover, as yet, there are no effective solutions to the general issue of orphan works. Recommendations of the study include suggestions for drafting national policies and adapting laws to allow digital preservation to be undertaken as necessary, in accordance with international best practice standards, and for promoting national systems for the collection of digital materials by relevant state and national collecting institutions.






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