The Legal Checklist for Digital Cultural Heritage Projects

If you are working on a digital project involving cultural heritage, there are a few things you should consider. This checklist walks you through the most important rights and stakeholders you need to be aware of.

  1. Find out who is the copyright owner to the material you want to work with and by which national law their work is protected.
  2. If the material you want to work with has been published, find out if the exploitation rights to the material are owned by the moral rights owner or a different stakeholder (such as the publisher).
  3. If the physical material you want to work with is not owned by the copyright owner, pay attention to ownership rights (of archives, libraries, etc.).
  4. If the work you plan to carry out is not legally enabled by a copyright exception, collect consent from the moral rights owner and the exploitation rights owner.
  5. If you wish to digitally reproduce material and publish the digital reproduction, collect consent from the moral rights owner, the exploitation rights owner, and the owner of the physical object.
  6. If you wish to work with or reuse data created by other stakeholders (i.e. libraries, archives, other research projects), check the legal status of the data.
  7. If the data is available under an open license, pay attention to the conditions under which the license allows reuse. (Is it possible to alter and enhance the data? Are you required to share the work you do based on the data in the same manner that your source data was made available to you?)
  8. If the data is not available under an open license, decide if you want to use the entire data set or only parts of it. If you only want to use parts of it, check if the copyright exception “citation right” applies. If not, and if you want to use the entire database, collect consent from the database owner.
  9. Choose a license for the content you create and present. Make sure that the copyright situation of the material created by others that you are using allows you to apply the license you chose.
  10. If you are unable to share the cultural heritage objects you are presenting under an open license, still license the content you created yourself to make life easier for the next research project that wishes to build on your work.
Cite this post as: Vanessa Hannesschläger, "The Legal Checklist for Digital Cultural Heritage Projects," in Legal Issues for Open DH, 02/08/2018, https://legaldh.hypotheses.org/292.

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