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Path: Home | Publications | Technical Guidelines | Table of contents | Intellectual property rights and copyright


Interoperability and service provision centres Working group

Technical Guidelines
for Digital Cultural Content Creation Programmes
Version 1.0: Revised 08 April 2004

This document has been developed on behalf of the Minerva Project by UKOLN, University of Bath, in association with MLA The Council for Museums, Libraries & Archives

cover of  handbook


10. Intellectual property rights and copyright

Projects must respect intellectual property rights held in the materials they work with, including:

  • the rights of the owners of the source materials that are digitised;
  • the rights of the owners of the digital resources;
  • the rights or permissions granted to a service provider to make the digital resources available;
  • the rights or permissions granted to the users of the digital resources.

Projects must also respect any rights arising from the particular terms and conditions of any digitisation programme within which they are operating.
Care is particularly advisable in the circumstances below:

Published material.
Publishers are unlikely to give permission to digi­tise in-copyright material unless this is of some advantage to them. Older material may be out of copyright but the project is responsible for confirming this.

In-house productions.
The rights in any work undertaken by an institution’s staff as part of their normal duties remains the prperty of that institution. In some academic institutions these rights may not have been asserted, and authors may have assgned them to external publishers. Unpaid volunteers retain the copyright of their work unless they sign away their rights.

Institutions commissioning work.
This work, for example photgraphy, will normally have secured reproduction rights, but this may not have extended to digitisation unless specifically stated in the agreement. Projects will only have copyright on digitised material if this permis­sion is secured.

Gifts, bequests and loans.
These may have particular conditions attached to them that affect their availability for digitisation.


10.1 Identifying, recording and managing intellectual property rights

In order to manage rights held in cultural resources, projects must first identify and record what rights exist in the materials.
Where necessary projects must negotiate with rights holders to obtain permission to use materials.
Projects must record the permissions granted in licences, which speci­fy the nature and scope of the content, the ways in which it can be used, the geographical extent of the rights, the duration of the licence and, where appropriate, a fee.
Projects must monitor licencing arrangements and ensure that licences are re-negotiated as required.

Copyright and the Networked Environment Issue Paper from the Networked Services Policy Taskgroup
Available 2005-02-15

Creating Digital Resources for the Visual Arts: Standards and Good Practice
Available 2005-02-15

JISC Management Briefing Paper on Copyright
Available 2005-02-15

UK Intellectual Property
Available 2005-02-15

World Intellectual Property Organization
Available 2005-02-15


10.2 Safeguarding intellectual property rights

Having identified property rights and negotiated licences, projects must ensure that their rights and the rights of other parties are protected, by taking steps to ensure that there is no unauthorised use of materials.
In the network environment, every transaction that involves intellec­tual property is by its nature a rights transaction. The expression of these ‘Terms of Availability’ or ‘Business Rules’ is dependent on ‘rights metadata’ – data which identifies unambiguously and securely the intellectual property itself, the specific rights which are being granted (for example to read, to print, to copy, to modify) and the users or potential users.
Projects should maintain data about the rights that they hold and acquire in an internally consistent form, so that they can be shared in a standard format.

The type of information required includes:

  • the identification of the resource itself
  • the name of the person or organisation granting the rights
  • the precise right or rights that are being granted (including, for example, whether modification is permitted) – and any specific exclusions
  • the period of time for which rights are granted
  • the user group or groups permitted to use the resource
  • any obligations (including but not limited to financial obligations) that users of the resource may incur.

Creative Commons

The Creative Commons initiative has released of a set of copyright licenses that are free for public use, and enable people to share their works and either to dedicate their creative works to the public domain or to retain their copyright while licensing them as free for certain uses, on certain conditions.
Projects may wish to assign a Creative Commons licence to their resources.

Creative Commons
Available 2005-02-15


It is common for public sector content creation programmes to speci­fy that content created must be made available free to users at the point of access, at least for educational purposes. In some cases pro­grammes also encourage or require projects to generate revenue from the materials created.
Projects must follow programme requirements regarding access to and use of resources created.
Projects must ensure that adequate protection is given to all intellec­tual property rights

Watermarking and fingerprinting

Projects should give consideration to watermarking and fingerprint­ing the digital material they produce.
Watermarking is the embedding of a permanent mark within a file that can subsequently be used to prove image origination or image copyright. This is normally achieved by integrating the watermark with the image data in such a way that it is virtually impossible to remove. Watermarks can be visible, invisible or a combination of both. In all cases the watermark is introduced in such a way that there is minimum distortion of the original image. Invisible watermarks must be able to withstand the image being cropped, rotated, compressed or transformed.
As well as watermarking images before they are distributed, images can be fingerprinted dynamically at delivery time i.e. as the image is downloaded from a Web site. When this is done, other information such as username, date, time, IP address etc. can be encoded as part of the watermark. This makes each instance of download unique and traceable through a transaction database enabling tracking of who is downloading images. Similar techniques can be used in audio and video media.

Purloining and Pilfering, Web Developers Virtual Library
Available 2005-02-15



Copyright Minerva Project 2005-07, last revision 2005-07-11 edited by Minerva Editorial Board.
URL: www.minervaeurope.org/publications/technicalguidelines/ipr.htm