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September 25, 2006

British Library Calls for Copyright Laws to Recognize Preservation Efforts

The British Library has issued a manifesto that calls for copyright law to be revised in that it take into account preservation efforts.  The Library notes that DRM measures go beyond copyright laws and can limit use to less than legal standards otherwise.  Copyright may expire at some point, but DRM measures may cause content to be locked up indefinitely. 

Current copyright provisions also hamper analog preservation.  The Library is hampered in its efforts to preserve data and warned that significant parts of the U.K. music archive could decay before copyright runs out.  There are more than a million records and 185,000 tapes that could decay before the 50 years of copyright on sound recordings runs out.  Musician Cliff Richards is leading an effort to extend to life of the artist plus 70 years.  His records will start to enter the public domain in two more years ending his royalties for them.

What is ironic is that the Library is one of the better institutions with resources that can take up the preservation effort and it is prevented from doing just that.  On the other hand, music and video pirates who have no respect for copyright laws or preservation issues are actually creating unprotected copies of media that could conceivable be available for future generations.  Of course, pirates don't have the collection development skills or follow preservation  standards to create a significant archive.  Even content creators aren't always aware of the value of an artistic work so that it would be preserved.  Note the missing early Dr. Who episodes that the BBC wiped as the "children's show" was not worth keeping.  Now the network scours the world and occasionally comes across a lost episode in an obscure warehouse. 

The BBC has an article on the state of the audio archive here.  CNET has the story on the DRM issue.

September 25, 2006 | Permalink


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