Rights in the Digital Era

On February 27, 2015, in Research, by Chris Prom

When working with electronic records, we often feel like we stand on shaky ground.

For example, when I teach my DAS course, some of the most difficult questions that course participants raise are related to rights: “How do we know what is copyrighted?” “How do we identify private materials?” “How can we provide access to ________”  “How can we track rights information?” “What do we do if we get sued?”

As archivists, we like to provide as much access as possible to the great things our repositories hold.  How can we do that and still sleep soundly at night?

These are the kinds of questions that led the SAA Publications Board to commission the newest entry in our Trends in Archives Practice Series, Rights in the Digital Era.    As with the courses in the SAA Digital Archives Specialist curriculum, I see the current and forthcoming works in this series as falling very much within the original spirit of this blog, making digital archives work practical and accessible.

Rights in the Digital Era, for instance, lays out risk management strategies and techniques you can use to provide responsible access to analog and digital collections, while meeting legal and ethical obligations, whatever your professional status or repository profile  As Peter B. Hirtle notes in his introduction to the volume, “A close reading of the modules will provide you with the rights information that all archivists should know, whether you are a repository’s director, reference archivist, or processing assistant.”

  • Module 4: Understanding Copyright Law by Heather Briston – provides a short-but-sweet introduction to copyright law and unpublished materials, emphasizing practical steps that can be taken to make archives more accessible and useful.
  • Module 5: Balancing Privacy and Access in Manuscript Collections by Menzi Behrnd-Klodt – navigates the difficult terrain of personal privacy, developing a roadmap to the law and describing risk management strategies applicable for a range or repositories and collections.
  • Module 6: Balancing Privacy and Access in the Records of Organizations by Menzi Behrnd-Klodt – unpacks legal and ethical requirements for records that are restricted under law, highlighting hands-on techniques you can use to develop thoughtful access policies and pathways in a variety of repository settings.
  • Module 7: Managing Rights and Permissions by Aprille McKay – examines provides methods and steps you can take to control rights information, supplying many useful approaches that you can easily adapt to your own circumstances.

It gives me and the entire SAA Publications Board great pride to see the fruits of our authors’ thinking and of our society’s work emerge in high quality, peer reviewed, and attractively designed books.

But don’t just take my word for it—read Rights in the Digital Era or any of the dozens of other publications that comprise the SAA catalog of titles!

 

 

 

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