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Friday, February 24, 2012

TRAC: A5.1: Deposit agreements

A5.1 If repository manages, preserves, and/or provides access to digital materials on behalf of another organization, it has and maintains appropriate contracts or deposit agreements.

Repositories, especially those with third-party deposit arrangements, should guarantee that relevant contracts, licenses, or deposit agreements express rights, responsibilities, and expectations of each party. Contracts and formal deposit agreements should be countersigned and current.

When the relationship between depositor and repository is less formal (i.e., a faculty member depositing work in an academic institution’s preservation repository), documentation articulating the repository’s capabilities and commitments should be provided to each depositor.

Repositories engaged in Web archiving may find this requirement difficult because of how Web-based information is harvested/captured for long-term preservation. This kind of data is rarely acquired with contracts or deposit agreements. By its very nature, digital information on the Web is perceived to belong to “everyone and no one.” Some repositories capture, manage, and preserve access to this material without written permission from the content creators. Others go through the very time-consuming and costly process of contacting content owners before capturing and ingesting information. Regardless of process, repositories harvesting and ingesting Web-based materials must articulate their rights issues within publicly accessible policies, and have mechanisms to respond to content owners if the repository’s rights to collect and preserve certain information are challenged.

 Ideally, these agreements will be tracked, linked, managed, and made accessible in a contracts database.

Evidence: Deposit agreements; policies on third-party deposit arrangements; contracts; definitions of service levels; Web archiving policies; procedure for reviewing and maintaining agreements, contracts, and licenses.

The ICPSR Deposit System implements this TRAC requirement.  The system makes the terms of deposit clear, and collects an electronic signature from the depositor.  ICPSR keeps the agreements in perpetuity, even if the depositor later decides that s/he would rather not use ICPSR as a repository.

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