Magazine article Information Outlook

Preservation versus Copyright

Magazine article Information Outlook

Preservation versus Copyright

Article excerpt

Preservation poses perplexing copyright questions for conservators. Jim Stroud, head of the Conversation Department of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, "draw(s) a distinction between reproduction for the purpose of preservation/conservation and for the purposes of access which very much is caught up in the issues of copyright."

Stroud notes that his department is not usually involved in reformatting for access - microfilming, digitization, etc. Rather, they are primarily concerned with original materials in the context of housing, exhibition, and conservation treatments. They do a lot of photocopying and xerography as part of their treatment and exhibition documentation. Occasionally, they have works photographed for use as surrogates in exhibitions. They also encourage the photocopying or filming of fragile materials so that casual users do not need to study the original.

For preservation/conversation and security purposes (exhibition documentation), I do not know of any copyright restrictions on duplication. If however, we propose to publish a paper in which an object is reproduced, the area becomes a little gray according to Stroud. "If a paper or presentation contained a particularly deep analysis of the intellectual content of the treated work or if complete images of particularly well-known objects were presented, we would try to obtain permission of the copyright holder."

When asked if it was possible for copyright law to prevent the preservation of a document, Stroud states, "I can't think of any type of situation where a conservator would let copyright issues take precedence over immediate stabilization of a situation threatening the existence of any work of cultural significance."

An example of a work of cultural significance is the Oklahoma Constitution, adopted in Convention at Guthrie, July 16, 1907. …

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