Codebreakers and Clearing Rights

The Symposium was organised around four related panels, followed by an open discussion with the audience.

The first panel introduced the Wellcome Library Digitisation Programme and its pilot project, Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics.

"One of the main challenges we had with this material... is the issue of clearing copyright." ASPIN


A transcript of this presentation is available here.

Following a short introduction from Richard Aspin, Head of Research and Scholarship at the Wellcome Library, Christy Henshaw, the Digitisation Programme Manager at the Wellcome Library, provided an overview of the practical and legal issues prompted by the Codebreakers project, and discussed why and how the Wellcome Library developed their risk management strategy for making copyright-protected material available online.

“Copyright clearance is about managing risk, always.” HENSHAW


A transcript of this presentation is available here.

Further detail about implementing that strategy and clearing rights for Codebreakers was provided by Caroline Herbert, the former Content and Metadata Officer at the Wellcome Library.

Caroline, who was responsible for securing relevant copyright permissions, spoke to the practicalities of applying the Wellcome’s risk criteria in determining which rightsholders should be designated as low, medium or high risk (from a rights clearance perspective), and to the sources and search strategies she employed in attempting to trace and contact medium and high-risk rightsholders.

“The vast majority of rightsholders are very happy for the[ir] material to be displayed online...” HERBERT


A transcript of this presentation is available here.

Lesley Richmond, Archivist and Deputy Director of the Library at the University of Glasgow, concluded the panel with reflections on working on a mass digitisation project, such as Codebreakers, from the perspective of a third-party partner archive.

“All archivists, when they obtain or are gifted a collection, should insist... an understanding about copyright [is] written into the contract.” RICHMOND


A transcript of this presentation is available here.

A number of key insights emerged from the discussion, including: the extent to which concerns about data protection often overshadow copyright compliance issues when making archival records available online (a burden that rarely arises when digitising library collections); the very high percentage of permissions granted by rightsholders contacted by the Wellcome (as well as their overwhelmingly positive reaction to being included in the project); and the importance of discussing and negotiating the future use of a collection – from a copyright perspective – as part of the deposit agreement, and before an archive takes custody of the collection.

Perhaps most significant is that the Wellcome Library have made considerable progress in developing a sustainable risk-management strategy to copyright compliance, one designed to remain relevant in the long-term but flexible enough to evolve in step with legislative change, as well as one that will allow the Library to progress its digitisation agenda in a pragmatic and sensible manner.

For a full transcript of this panel, and to leave feedback on the discussion within the panel, click here.

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