Our topic for this week’s class is digitization and copyright. Copyright, quite simply, has grown into an enormous burden for the researcher. Original intention may be noble, but contemporary application is stifling. The bulk of my primary documents for our digital archive will come from the NYPL’s Berg Collection of manuscripts. In order to secure the right to reproduce and publish any document from within this collection, the researcher must provide written permission from the rights-holder of the work of a given author. This information is not easy to find, even with the help of nice NYPL curators. If permission cannot be attained, which may happen due to a non-response from a rights-holder or an inability to identify the rights-holder at all, the researcher may sign a release that clears the NYPL of any liability if a rights-holder decides to bring suit for any published material deemed within copyright. The researcher must also show that a good-faith effort was applied to the search for rights-holders. The NYPL process is complicated, though such complication is an unfortunate necessity in response to current copyright law.
(Week 7 entry)