Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Whither Legal Deposit for Online Publications?

One of the mini-projects I started out on, and have to still to write up (and, indeed, complete!) during my Arcadia Fellowship was the life of a book, describing the travels made and processes applied to a work from the moment it is received via the legal deposit process into the University Library, through cataloguing and shelving, to the point at which it makes it back on to the shelf after its first loan.

One thing that didn't really cross my mind at all was the way in which born digital and published online content might be subjected to the legal deposit process, nor how legal deposit libraries might secure the long term availability and preservation of those works.

Anyway, it seems as if the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have been consulting on the subject, and now they've opened up the consultation to a potentially wider audience than might have originally been the case by republishing it, in commentable form, on the WriteToReply consultation platform: Proposal on the Collection and Preservation of UK Offline and Microform Publications and UK Online Publications

The consultation seeks opinions on several proposals relating to the legal deposit of Offline and Microform Publications as well as Online Publications.

Which is to say, DCMS have worked out what they want to do (the proposals) and now's your opportunity to comment on it. As well as formal institutional responses, I got the feeling from a meeting with DCMS a week or two ago that they were interested in seeing how things like WriteToReply might help encourage a wider range of contributions to might complement full institutional responses. It's also worth bearing in mind from the individual user comment feeds, it's possible to use WriteToReply to help draft a full response...

As well as the proposals mentioned above, the consultation document is soliciting feedback on several other related matters.

For example, an impact assessment for agencies likely to support the process is provided in Impact Assessments – Intervention and options, analysis and evidence, which reviews some of the legal constraints around harvesting, as well as the costs of maintaining a legal deposit service for online materials. Have they identified all the major risks, or are there practicalities that have escaped them?

Defining territoriality is a major consideration on which feedback is requested in Further Details on Territoriality. With intellectual property rights in such a mess, here's an opportunity to contribute your opinions to the process.

Finally, practical everyday considerations about the actual legal deposit process are raised in Further Details on Harvesting Process. At the end of the day, the techies are going to have to implement this stuff. Here's an opportunity for developers to raise any concerns in an informal way

[Disclaimer: I am co-founder of the WriteToReply platform]

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