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Digitial Initiatives: Rights & Legal Issues

Creators' Rights

  • What are the rights of creators whose digitized or born-digital resources we manage?
  • Do the creators rights vary depending on the format and/or type of content being managed?

Rights & Concerns related to Third Parties

  • What are the rights and concerns regarding third parties referenced in resources?
  • What do we consider sensitive subject matter regarding third parties (e.g. sexual orientation, mental illness)?
  • Do we digitize and/or restrict access to items that contain sensitive information regarding third parties?
  • Do we have a take-down policy if third parties referenced in digital resources object?
  • What are the rights, if any, of donors who don't own copyright?


Association of Research Libraries. Author rights. Retrieved from

Association of Research Libraries. (2012, January). Code of best practices in fair use for academic and research libraries. Retrieved from

Association of Research Libraries. Copyright & ip. Retrieved from

Creative Commons.  About the licences.  Retrieved from

* Cornell University. Copyright Information Center. Retrieved from

- Review the Resources section for checklists, permission forms, and more.

* Hirtle, P. (2014, January 1). Copyright term and the public domain in the United States. Retrieved from

- Peter Hirtle, Cornell University Libraries, is a well-recognized source on copyright information. Occasionally, he teaches workshops on this subject with other organizations.  I took one of Hirtle's copyright workshops through MARAC which I highly recommend.

Hirtle, P.B., Hudson, E., & Kenyon, A.T. (2009). Copyright and cultural institutions: Guidelines for digitization for U.S. libraries, archives, and museums. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library. Retrieved from

United States Copyright Office. Copyright law of the United States. Retrieved from

Examples & Case Studies

Dickson, M. (2010, Fall/Winter). Due dilligence, futile effort: Copyright and the digitization of the Thomas E. Watson papers. American Archivist, 73(2), p. 626-636. Retrieved from