Principle 4: Libraries should receive copies of all digital files
generated from their collections, with the option for complete
local access to the files (to the extent that copyright law allows).
Libraries should insist on the right to provide free local access to digitized
materials from their holdings. They should determine on their own what
constitutes a fair use of those digital files and make them available accordingly.
Nothing in the contract with the commercial entity should limit the library’s
right to make a fair use determination. Material that is of uncertain copyright
status should be excluded from commercial products.
Principle 5: Any enhancements or improvements to the
digitized content should be shared on a regular basis
with the supplying library.
In addition to making material available to the public, research libraries should
seek to provide context to aid in the understanding of that material. This is
especially true with special collections materials, which often must be interpreted
or analyzed. In order to preserve and provide context for digitized distinct
collections, it is important that the contributing library receive on a regular basis
copies of enhanced content and metadata about that content. This could include
upgraded or replaced image files as well as corrected or improved OCR text.
Principle 6: Restrictions on external access to copies of works
digitized from a library’s holding should be of limited duration.
In order to allow a commercial partner time to recover its investment in
digitization, it may be necessary to grant to that entity exclusivity over the use of
the digital files for a period of time. The ultimate goal, however, is to “ensure the
results are widely available for scholarship.”4 The period of exclusivity,
therefore, should be limited, preferably to no more than seven years. After that
time period the library should be able to distribute freely any file digitized from
its holdings. It should also be able to aggregate the content with other resources
from its own collections and those of other institutions and to expose the content
to data mining and other new ways of exploiting it.
Principle 7: Libraries should refrain from signing nondisclosure
agreements (NDAs) as part of digitization negotiations.
At the ARL Membership Meeting, library directors were asked whether they
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The Collaborative Imperative: Special Collections in the Digital Age
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C O N T I N U E D
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DECEMBER 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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