|Title:||Seeking New Landscapes: A rights clearance study in the context of mass digitisation of 140 books published between 1870 and 2010|
|Citation:||Stratton, B. (2011). Seeking New Landscapes: A rights clearance study in the context of mass digitisation of 140 books published between 1870 and 2010. London: British Library/ARROW http://pressandpolicy. bl. uk/imagelibrary/downloadMedia. ashx.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|Linked by:||EIFL (2013), Stobo, Patterson, Erickson and Deazley (2018)|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The subject of the study was a computer-generated random sample of catalogue records of books and other monographs held by the British Library which had been published in each of the 14 decades from 1870 to 2010. The sample consisted of 140 works, 10 from each decade.|
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||Yes|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
The purpose of the study was to examine the rights clearance process, rather than actually digitise. It used a random selection as possible of 140 books published between 1870 and 2010 – 10 per decade – from the collection of the British Library. The study sought to determine whether permission could be received to digitise them and to achieve the following goals:
- Identify the copyright status of the material and the proportion of ‘orphan works’ (those in-copyright works whose owners cannot be identified or located).
- Measure and quantify the level of diligent search currently required to undertake mass digitisation of material from the last 140 years.
- Understand the relationship between commercial activity of library collection items and wider availability.
- Compare the outputs of a ‘manual’ diligent search for rights holders against the ‘automated’ ARROW system.
Main Results of the Study
- 29% of the books were out of copyright, 57% were identified as in copyright and the remaining 14% had an unknown copyright status (presumed to be in copyright for the purposes of digitisation).* Of the total number of potentially in-copyright works 43% were orphan works, equating to 31% of the total sample. They ranged in date from the 1870s to the 1990s.* The type of publisher had a large impact on whether works were orphaned with self-published works accounting for 51% of all orphan works in the study.* Only 21% of the books in the total sample were still in print, almost half of which were in-copyright titles published between 1990 and 2010. Most of the rest were public domain material from the decades around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, a considerable proportion of which are available as print on demand rather than warehoused print runs.* The decade which featured the highest proportion of definitely in-copyright orphan works was the 1980s (50%) which demonstrated that although age may be a factor in whether a work becomes orphaned, even material from the recent past is clearly affected by this issue.* 56.5% of books in the sample were published by non-mainstream publishers such as professional associations, institutions and political organisations.* Permission to digitise was sought for 73% of the books in the sample. Of these:** rightsholders gave permission for just 17% of the books to be digitised;** permission was not granted for 26% of the titles;** for 26% of the titles no response was received;** rightsholder contact details for the remaining 31% of the titles could not be located.* On average it took 4 hours per book to undertake a “diligent search”. This involved clarifying the copyright status of the work and then identifying rightsholders and requesting permissions.* In contrast the use of the ARROW system took less than 5 minutes per title to upload the catalogue records and check the results.* During the study the diligent search and the ARROW system identified the same copyright status for 51% of titles. System improvements made soon after the study closure subsequently brought this figure to 69%. A comparison of the ultimate rights clearance outcome of the works queried via each process showed that in 92% of cases the same result was received.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
- Rights clearance of works on an individual, item by item basis is unworkable in the context of mass digitisation. At 4 hours per book it would take one researcher over 1,000 years to clear the rights in just 500,000 books* The current economic climate, in which funding for cultural and knowledge based services is highly limited, makes it even more important to find efficient ways of making public collections available. The material in these collections has, in a great many cases, been put on shelves and essentially forgotten about. To make it widely available in digital form is to increase understanding of our history, our traditions and the world within which we live. To limit this just to items that are clearly in the public domain through the lack of efficient rights clearance mechanisms would mean omitting the 20th century from this understanding. * The potential that a single automated diligent search (the Arrow system) is all that is needed to clear rights – a search for which a user need invest only minimal time in uploading records and reviewing responses – makes mass clearance of rights an achievable goal.* ARROW also has the potential to play a significant role in any legislative solution to orphan works, acting as a single registry through which cultural institutions could identify works they have digitised and rightsholders could claim any works to which they own the rights.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Books|
|Period of material under study:||2010-2011|