Workbook on Digital Private Papers > Legal issues > Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights

Introduction to Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are composed of a group of rights all relating to the protection of intellectual property. The main types of IPR are copyright, patent, trademark, design, confidence and database right.

Digital archivists are primarily concerned with the first of these: copyright. Copyright is a legal right granted to creators and owners of works which are the product of human thought or intellectual creativity. The purpose of this intellectual property right is to protect the copyrighted author and their work from unfair exploitation while allowing the wider population to have access to their creative work.

Patent, trademark, design and confidence issues are most likely to be encountered when dealing with the archives of business and science.

Paradigm concluded that an effective rights management policy is needed to address IPR issues in archival materials. This involves steps during the acquisition and cataloguing processes to establish the nature, owners and duration of at least the primary IPRs in an archive. This will aid the archivist in creating a rights profile of the collection using metadata, which can be relied upon to manage usage of the collection in a way that respects the rights of rightsholders and those of researchers. Where realistic, rights to undertake preservation and some access activities should be sought, and repositories should consider adopting a 'take down' policy and procedure for removing from public access any contentious material which is subject to dispute.