I followed the developments loosely over the years, partly with CC Germany
hat on. There were quite some controversies around the project, but it was
overall seen as something that makes it easier for institutions to make
The most problematic part indeed seems to be "no copyright but X
restrictions". The rationale for this is that some standardised indicators
are needed for all those digitisation projects that are sponsored by Google
or other private entities, and that leave the partaking insitutions little
choice but flag contractual sponsorship restrictions when pushing stuff to
The bad part about how it is implemented right now is: People might get the
idea that such third-partly contractual restrictions bind anybody
regardless of context, like an absolute right would do such as copyright –
while in fact these restrictions often enough only apply inter partes, i.e.
only if some kind of contractual relationship or ToS agreement with the end
user is present.
In all cases / jurisdictions where no ancillary rights arise from automatic
scanning for example, the digital copies of GLAM artefacts don't carry any
absolute protection right whatsoever. And if the end user got access to the
content via an API or other method likely to not give rise to contractial
relationships, no restriction applies regardless of what the institution
has to adhere to.
2017-11-21 16:28 GMT+01:00 James Heald <jpm.heald(a)gmail.com>om>:
I was wondering, have people on this list had any
contact with, or have
any thoughts about rightsstatements.org
I was in a twitter chat earlier with a digital librarian at University
College Dublin (re whether or not a copyright they were asserting for
Ordnance Survey Ireland re digitisation of some old maps had any basis in
reality), and, in passing, she proudly mentioned that they were going to
start adding rightsstatements.org
standard descriptions of copyright
status to all content.
I had a look at the site, and my first take was it must have been an
initiative from some of the major publishers, so loaded did it seem to be
towards promoting different options for *preventing* people doing things
with one's content.
I was quite surprised to find that actually it seems to be a 100% GLAM
initiative, initiated by DPLA and Europeana, with strong input from
Creative Commons, and Kennisland's Paul Keller as one of the chairs. (And I
see that our own Alex Stinson and Federico Leva even contributed some
thoughts in the development phase)
Yet to me (I don't know if others agree), the lead document at
seems rather hostile to the widest access, openness, and re-use.
Yes, Creative Commons licences /are/ in fact mentioned as the 1st-best
option in the body text, if one reads closely. But I have to admit I
missed that completely the first time I skimmed the page -- because it is
only the restrictions that get the big graphics and the emphasis.
My worry would be that if organisations like UCD make it a policy to mark
their material up with a rightsstatements.org
possible, this will (subtly or not-so-subtly) lead them away from PD or CC0
choices; or away from "attribution" requirements (which are not on the
page) towards "non-commercial" restrictions (which are).
(Any NC statement of course also opens up a huge can of worms as to just
what activities and by whom are or are not "non-commercial" -- something
the page does not flag up, and which the site offers no clarification
about, as to what might or might not be the intended meaning).
I am also quite concerned about the apparent endorsement given to the
"contractual restrictions" option, and indeed its prominence on the page --
placed as the first option for non-copyright material, almost as if to
encourage institutions to see this as the appropriate default status.
"Contractual restrictions" seems a particularly nasty way to try to fence
in the public domain. It's also questionable in its effectiveness. The
long-term folk wisdom on Commons has been that if a museum has a sign up
saying "no photography" or "personal photography only", but somebody
a photograph and someone uploads it to Commons, that any claim would stop
(at most) with the photographer -- Commons has no contract with the museum,
so is not a party to any restrictions. That may be a slightly rose-tinted
and self-serving view, but it seems a little odd to see this option so
blandly endorsed, and indeed promoted, without any qualification.
It seems odd, given who they are, that the people behind
would produce a site that seems calculated to march
people *away* from the maximum openness, access, and impact.
Yet - I don't know if the list would agree - but to me that seems to be
exactly what the current presentation does, leading people away from
sharing and freedom, and instead normalising closure and restriction, even
for PD materials.
I'd like to know whether the list agrees with me on this; or whether I'm
being over-sensitive and perhaps just encountered the site in the wrong
frame of mind. But, since between us I think we have a lot of contacts
with the people involved with this project, if others see something in
these concerns, perhaps it might be worth a quiet word to see if the
presentation could perhaps be re-balanced a bit, to more even-handedly
present more open options?
PS. Going back to the point of my initial discussion with UCD, if
copyrights /are/ being asserted on apparently well-published archival
material, it seems to me that it would be useful if the site encouraged as
standard best practice a statement of /why/ it was asserted that there was
copyright in the material -- eg whether there had genuinely been a
copyrightable expression of creativity or judgment involved. This would
lend such claims extra weight, in a world where there is so much copyfraud
around that such assertions otherwise might get casually dismissed.
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