International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation

Friday, August 15th, 2008

The Netherlands: pioneer in digital preservation cultural heritage

The Library of Congress has recently issued a joint report on digital preservation and copyright. This authoritative report was compiled by the National Digital Information and Infrastructure Preservation Program, and in cooperation with partners in Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. SURFfoundation is responsible for the Dutch contribution.

The report, International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation, notes that digital works are ephemeral, and unless preservation efforts are begun soon after they are created, they will be lost to future generations. The report found that although copyright and related laws are not the only obstacle to digital preservation, there is no question that those laws present significant challenges.

Recommendations are provided for legislative reform and other solutions to ensure that libraries, archives and other preservation institutions can manage copyrighted digital information in a manner consistent with national and international laws.  Specific recommendations include structuring national copyright laws to provide exceptions for preservation institutions to proactively preserve at risk copyrighted material in digital form, subject to measures appropriate to protect the legitimate interests of right holders.

The Dutch contribution to the report takes inventory of current digital preservation efforts in the Netherlands. It also looks at the way in which the Netherlands regulates the preservation of and access to digital materials: through agreements between cultural institutions and entitled parties, which ensure that 20th-century works will remain publicly available. Higher education institutions in the Netherlands, collaborating within SURF, have indicated that they want clarity about preserving and providing access to cultural resources.

The recommendations for reforming Dutch legislation also focus on works from collections in museums, archives and libraries. These works need to be digitized for preservation. A secure network would have to ensure access to these digitized works.

For the Netherlands, the report is particularly important in view of the leading international position which the National Library of the Netherlands has achieved with its e-depository. The Library is often quoted as ‘an example of good practice’.

The importance of the report is underlined by Dr. Wim van Drimmelen, Director of the National Library. In an article in the Dutch newspaper ‘NRC Handelsblad’ of 17 April 2008, the National Library argued for removing the legal obstacles to digitizing 20th-century library collections. In addition, Van Drimmelen argues that clear regulation and legislation in this area is also of paramount importance for new, digitally born documents since their accessibility is under greater threat than that of traditional information carriers.

According to the report, copyright laws should permit preservation institutions to preserve copyrighted works in accordance with international best practices for digital preservation, including making copies for administrative and technical purposes; migrating works into different formats in response to technological developments and changing standards; and maintaining redundant copies among preservation institutions and legally authorized third party preservation repositories to protect against catastrophic loss.

The report further recommends that copyright exceptions for digital preservation should not be conditioned on the category (such as literature or music) or format (such as compact disc or website) of the work.

The Images for the Future project is mentioned at page 48.

Download the report ‘International Study on the Impact of Copyright law on Digital Preservation’



Live stream and blogs Economies of the Commons

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

liveAnd so it almost begins .. we await three intensive days in which we will discuss the future of archives, legal issues concerning orphan works and so much more. Thanks to The Balie the main conference can be followed real-time at The Balie live stream. Our bloggers will cover the conference almost in realtime on this blog. What can we expect from the conference?

Thursday April 10 – Legal Seminar – Sound and Vision – Hilversum
A day dedicated to legal issues concerning digital heritage. Images for the Future will host the afternoon program of the Economies of the Commons Legal Seminar for legal experts, scholars and law students. Regarding the Images for the Future project the participants will work on the issue of orphan works and rights clearing. Venue for the seminar is the Sound and Vision building in Hilversum.

Friday April 11 – Economies of the Commons

The conference starts with a keynote of Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television) followed by a panel about the changing role of National Archives. What are the challenges large-scale digitization and online services have to offer? With Pelle Snickars (SLBA), Richard Paterson (British Film Institute), Tobias Golodnoff (Dansk Culturarv), and Roei Amit (INA).

After the lunch we continue with the second session about Commons-based Peer Production. How do new developments of creative reuse hold out against market-based production? With Felix Stalder (Open Flows), Jamie King (Steal This Film), Jon Phillips (Creative Commons) en Sebastian Lütgert (

The afternoon ends with a session about the European Digital Library. With Paul Doorenbosch (KB – National Library of The Netherlands), Jill Cousins (Director European Digital Library), Sonja de Leeuw (Utrecht University/ case: Video Active), Georg Eckes (Deutsches Filminstitut / case: European Film Gateway).

Friday evening: Sustainable Images for the Future / 20.30h

The Friday night is dedicated to Images for the Future and the Commons. Edwin van Huis (Director General of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) will provide the introduction about the largest digitization project in the Netherlands, Images for the Future. Rick Prelinger will continue to focus on the future of archives demonstrated by the case of the Prelinger Archives, a collection of 48.000 films of which a central selection has been added to the Library of Congress. David Bolier ( speaks on the subject of value creation in open networks and how to link the Commons with government and industry. We end the session with a panel discussion with the speakers and Emjay Rechsteiner of the Dutch Filmmuseum about the Commons and Dutch audiovisual archives.

Saturday April 12 / 11.00 – 18.00h

Uncommon Business Models – 11.00h
In this session we will take on the subject of open business models. Two experts from related media industries that are arguably ahead of the curve will kick off the workshop. Jan Velterop, CEO of Knewco and one of the leading experts on Open Access, will give us an insight in the deployment of open business models in scientific publishing. Over the past couple of years Open Access has been able to provide a valid and sustainable alternative in this 7 billion dollar industry. Jonas Woods, Head of Music at the pioneering music company, will pick up from there. In his presentation he will highlight how his company has successfully generated income streams in an industry that has shown to be particularly vulnerable in the open environment of the Internet. These examples will pave the way for an interesting discussion with panelists Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television), Roei Amit (INA), Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Archives) and Eerde Hovinga (NIBG-tbc).

In the afternoon we focus on Intangible Heritage Resources in the (Non-) Western World. With Joost Smiers (Prof. em. Political Science of the Arts), Shubha Chaudhuri (ARCE), Anthony McCann (University of Ulster) Wim van Zanten (ICTM).

The last panel consists of Professional Cultural Producers. With Florian Schneider (, Kenneth Goldsmith (Ubuweb), Bauke Freiburg (Fabchannel / Culture Player), Chai Locher (NFTVM – tbc), Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Archives).

Enough said .. come back soon for notes, video’s, discussion and much more! Don’t forget to bookmark the site for more detailed background, articles and related projects and documents.

Geert Wissink & Johan Oomen


Film on Demand

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Last week a report outlining the economic importance of the film industry in Holland was officially presented to government representative Boris van der Ham. The report, commissioned by Filmwereld , an association of filmmakers, theaters, rental stores and other distribution channels, shows a clear but grim picture: in 2005 the film industry lost over 10% (82 million Euro) in revenue through illegally downloaded films. With the report, the association asks for governmental support to help fight the infringement of copyrights. While downloading films is not a crime in Holland, uploading is. Most P2P networks work on the principle that you have to open up your computer for uploading if you want to download, effectively making you a willful accomplice. The Dutch government has alreeds indicated in November that it shares the indicated concerns and that it will investigate the matter (see article in NRC).

While the claims on copyright infringements are legitimate, the whole debate brings back memories of what happened in the music industry, no more than a couple of years ago. A similar sales pattern indicated a clear change in the habbits of consumers. But instead of taking this change for a fact and adapting to this new reality, captains of industry nervously checked their balance sheets and focussed all their attention on legal actions. What followed is history. Traditional powerhouses lost their dominant positions while new players came up with legal alternatives that worked. By july this year Apple announced it had sold more than 3 billion songs, or an average of 87 thousand an hour since it opened in 2003. Granted, this development has not been able to put a complete halt to declining sales in the music industry and illegal downloading and sharing of music still exists. but the point is, there is a legal alternative that allows more music to be available to more people than ever before.

Improved bandwidth is now opening up doors to a similar situation in the film industry. I can find practical any film I want for free on the internet and I can watch it the same evening, if I have the stamina to endure the lousy audio quality, Spanish subtitles and my guilty consciousness…

So instead of focusing our attention exclusively on the illegal side of downloading we should applaud the fact that there is so much demand for the material and provide this hungry audience with some decent legal alternatives. Of course Itunes will be a big player on the VOD scene and so will others that cater blockbusters to large audiences. It will be harder to find distributors of arthouse films that can only exist at the very end of the Long Tail. Nevertheless there are interesting experiments going on that we will watch closely like the Spanish endeavor Filmotech. This VOD site brings spanish film affectionados high quality film through a platform operated by the spanish filmproducers themselves. The Norwegian Film Institute already launched it’s VOD outlet in the fall of 2004. It’s mission is to ‘preserve, make available, and promote Norwegian films’ through the creation of a high quality distribution channel.

So yes, as content providers we should protect the rights of the creator and enforce our copyright laws. But it is in their best interest as well that we should provide serious alternatives to illegal downloading. And the alternative is to provide the highest quality formats in an easy to use environment with lots of added value services such as recommenders and ratings. I for one would be very happy to pay say 4 euro to be able to watch Cidade de Deus in a decent 2k version with readable english subtitles.


Open up the goldmine in the UK

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

“The cultural heritage community sits on a goldmine of images, texts, sounds, films, video, data and metadata of immense interest to wide variety of of specific sectors and the general public.” With that statement Jordan S. Hatcher and Eduserv open the Snapshot study on the use of open content licenses in the UK cultural heritage sector. 107 Cultural heritage organisations participated in the UK-wide survey. Some remarkable results include:

The vast majority of respondents are actively making content available online. Only four organisations do not make content available online.
Text and images are the most likely types of content to be made available online.
The decision to make content available online often seems to be made without any formal analysis of the impacts that may have.
Approximately ten percent of all respondents use Creative Commons or Creative Archive licences for (part of) their content. Another ten percent are thinking about using open content licenses in near future.
Fourty organisations that make available at least one type of content online have no copyright policy on their website.

The survey also shows that there is a potential for growth of the number of organisations that use open content licenses. Two findings in the UK survey that strike me as pressing issues for Images for the Future are the lack of analysis of the use and impact of online content, and the relatively large number of organisations that are almost completely ignorant of open content licensing. The latter issue is a matter of informing and teaching about copyright law. The former hints to the mind shift that cultural heritage organisations need. Most of them appear eager to advocate sharing (and re-use) of content. However, the question to what end content should be shared often remains unanswered.

The report is published under a Creative Commons-Attribution license and can be downloaded here.