Workbook on Digital Private Papers > Legal issues > Introduction


Institutions wishing to collect, curate and provide access to digital archives must consider a number of legal issues from the outset. Important legislation to be aware of relates to: public records, human rights, data protection, intellectual property rights (IPRs) and defamation. Digital archivists need to have a good understanding of the legal framework governing digital archives and employ measures to guard against breaking the law.

This chapter of the Workbook outlines some of the legal issues likely to be encountered in the preservation of personal digital archives. As the institutions and individuals involved in the Paradigm exemplar are all located in England, what follows is based primarily on experience of operating within this context. That context includes common law and equity, parliamentary law and caselaw for England and Wales and European Community law (applicable throughout Great Britain). Access to all UK Acts passed from 1988 onwards are available on the website of the Office of Public Sector Information and caselaw is available through the British and Irish Legal Information Institute databases. None of the authors are lawyers and the material contained in the Workbook does not constitute legal advice; we would strongly encourage readers to seek professional advice from their own legal teams regarding these issues.

The Scottish and Northern Ireland legal systems are different to that of England and Wales. The National Archives of Scotland provides information about the Scottish legal context as it affects record keeping and acts passed by the Scottish Parliament are available on the website of the Office of the Queen's Printer for Scotland.