Friday, March 2, 2012

TRAC: A5.2: Transfer of rights

A5.2 Repository contracts or deposit agreements must specify and transfer all necessary preservation rights, and those rights transferred must be documented.

Because the right to change or alter digital information is often restricted by law to the creator, it is important that digital repository contracts and agreements address the need to be able to work with and potentially modify digital objects to keep them accessible. Repository agreements with depositors must specify and/or transfer certain rights to the repository enabling appropriate and necessary preservation actions for the digital objects within the repository. (This requirement is linked to A3.3.)

Because legal negotiations can take time, potentially preventing or slowing the ingest of digital objects at risk, it is acceptable for a digital repository to take in or accept digital objects even with only minimal preservation rights using an open-ended agreement and then deal with expanding to detailed rights later. A repository’s rights must at least limit the repository’s liability or legal exposure that threatens the repository itself.

Evidence: Contracts, deposit agreements; specification(s) of rights transferred for different types of digital content (if applicable); policy statement on requisite preservation rights.

The ICPSR deposit agreement is pretty clear about this:  The depositor is granting us non-exclusive rights to preserve and disseminate the content, and in order to perform these tasks effectively, we reserve the right to transform the content.

In fact, unlike a more conventional archive where the goal might be to preserve the item "as is" indefinitely, much of our work - particularly in the topical archives - involves changing the content in significant ways.

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