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BILETA hosts an annual conference in March/April each year. It is hosted by a law school and has taken place in a variety of locations: England & Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, The Netherlands and Malta.

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funding research

Funding Research

BILETA is actively seeking requests for funding from individuals from member institutions to allow projects to be undertaken or completed which reflect the goals of BILETA.

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2013 Research Awards

  • Principal Investigator:Prof. Ronan Deazley
  • Co-Investigator: Victoria Stobo
  • Institution: CREATe, University of Glasgow
  • Start Date: Nov 2013. End Date: Apr 2014
  • Amount: £1500
  • Summary of the Project :
    The purpose of the Archives and Copyright: Developing an Agenda for Reform symposium was to provide an opportunity for UK and US-based academics to engage with the archive community within the UK, to:

  • (i) explore the limits of adopting a risk-based approach to copyright compliance within large-scale digitisation initiatives such as the Wellcome Digital Library
  • (ii) assess the relevance (or not) of recent proposals for copyright reform in the UK with regard to facilitating the digitisation of archival collections;
  • (iii) consider the implications of recent US developments in this domain (e.g. the HathiTrust decision (October 2012), and the work of the Center for Social Media (American University) in developing Codes of Best Practice for academic and research libraries and archives when dealing with copyright compliance issues;
  • (iv) establish a network and a platform for the archive community within the UK to begin to develop and articulate a voice in copyright policy debates: a voice that relates to, but is distinct from, that of the library community. To be able to provide an accurate, open access and permanent record of the event, and the discussion generated, was considered to be of value to the archive community as well as policy-makers and academics working in this domain.

  • BILETA provided funding on three conditions: that the funding be used specifically to cover costs relating to part (iv) of the proposal, specifically web-design, filming, transcription, editorial and post-production costs; that the event actually runs as stated, and; that BILETA funding is acknowledged in future publications arising from the event. These three conditions have been met.

    Key findings :
    While we recognise that the new copyright settlement will better enable and facilitate the work or archivists, we also believe it will continue to inhibit and frustrate that work in important ways. The premise underpinning the Symposium that led to the production of these proceedings was very straightforward: what can be done to make the work of archivists easier and simpler, more efficient and more effective? Within the copyright domain, what evidence can be gathered and what strategies can be developed that might help make it easier for archivists to preserve their collections appropriately, and to make those collections as open and as accessible as possible?

    There is no doubt that in recent years the concepts of cost-benefit analysis and evidence-based policy have taken centre stage in shaping copyright policy and reform. So: how can or should the archive sector respond to this development? What data can be gathered that speaks directly to the work and needs of archivists? When archives clear rights for digitisation initiatives, how often do rightsholders refuse permission? How often do they ask for payment or negotiate a licence fee? If rightsholders refuse permission, why do they do so? Does it concern copyright, or are there other non-commercial imperatives at play? If copyright fees are requested, do publicly funded archives have budgets to pay those fees?, or are they more likely to simply omit the material from the digital resource being developed? Have any UK-based archivists or archives ever been sued for copyright infringement, or even threatened with copyright litigation? Much could be done to gather information and evidence specifically relevant to the archive sector to help policy makers and legislators better understand the realities of the copyright regime as it affects and impacts archives, as distinct from other heritage institutions such as libraries, museums and galleries.

    As for strategies, one possible strategy for making the life and work of archivists easier and simpler, more efficient and more effective, is to adopt a risk-based approach to clearing rights, rather than one of strict copyright compliance. When the Wellcome Library began to develop Codebreakers: Makers of Modern Genetics, it adopted just such an approach. Wellcome’s vision for Codebreakers was to make archive material relating to the history of genetics and genomics freely available online, including material not just in the Wellcome’s collection but in other archival collections also. At the time of writing over 3 million pages of material is now available to view through the Wellcome Library Player, all of which is made available under an attribution non-commercial creative commons licence.

    Recognising that the costs and demands of strict copyright compliance would seriously compromise delivery of the Codebreakers project, the Wellcome Library adopted a risk-based approach to clearing rights, and without doubt, this strategy contributed significantly to the success of Codebreakers. In our opinion, a risk-based approach to copyright compliance is a strategy that merits serious consideration and review on the part of the archive community, and these proceedings represent an opportunity for doing just that: for reflecting upon the merits and problems of adopting a risk-based approach to copyright compliance within an archival context. (These findings are taken from Deazley, R. and Stobo, V., (eds) (2014) Archives and Copyright: Developing an Agenda for Reform, CREATe Working Paper 2014/4, University of Glasgow

    Outputs :
    A web resource, which includes films and transcriptions of all the presentations from the symposium, in addition to a set of interactive conference proceedings has been developed. This resource has been further expanded with a blog, and will continue to be updated with other resources throughout the Archives, Digitisation and Copyright PhD study. The BILETA logo is featured prominently on the site, and a disclaimer is posted on the blog to let readers know that BILETA and the other site sponsors do not endorse the opinions and views expressed on the blog. The site is used as a teaching resource on Law and Cultural Institutions, an optional 20-credit module available on the MSc in Information Management and Preservation, offered by the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute at University of Glasgow. The site has also been featured at the following events:

  • UK Archives Discovery Forum, the National Archives, March 2014
  • Research Seminar, HATII, University of Glasgow, March 2014
  • Mass Digitisation and Informational Monopolies Symposium, CIPPM, University of Bournemouth, April 2014
  • 28th Annual British and Irish Legal Education and Technology Association Conference, University of East Anglia, April 2014
  • An Introduction to Copyright for Archivists Workshop, Edinburgh, 30th May 2014
  • An Introduction to Copyright for Archivists Workshop, Perth, 10th June 2014
  • Copyright and Mass Digitisation Workshop, Genocide Archive Rwanda, Kigali, 17th June 2014
  • Archives and Records Association Annual Conference, Newcastle, August 2014

  • By using the resource at these and other events, I estimate that up to 1000 people have seen the website, and with further activity, traffic on the site will increase. The site has also been used by researchers at University of Edinburgh with interest in the

    legal implications of work in the Digital Humanities , and by researchers at University of Strathclyde investigating new legal approaches to data-mining


    Final Comments: :
    Victoria Stobo (CI) will continue to develop the Archives and Copyright resource over the course of the Archives, Digitisation and Copyright PhD study. The investigators on the project would like to thank BILETA for the funding support provided to realise this project, and also to thank the BILETA conference organisers in 2013 and 2014, when research presentations which bookended this project were accepted and delivered.