National Library’s new use & reuse policy

On May 20th 2014, the National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ) Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa published its new use and reuse policy. In nine overarching principles, the policy aims to provide clarity and consistency around the use and reuse of the Library’s collections.

In line with international ‘open GLAM’ recommendations, principle four advises that ‘negotiations with rights owners and donors will promote and be informed by the Creative Commons licensing framework as a mechanism to facilitate use and reuse of in-copyright works.’

Principle five states that ‘where no copyright restriction applies, NLNZ will seek to provide the items for use and reuse with a statement of “no known copyright restrictions”, after careful consideration of cultural and ethical issues relating to the items.’

Other principles address the use of appropriate resolution size, the Government’s Open Access and Licensing framework, and the treatment of ‘orphan’ works.

Mark Crookston, Digital Collection Strategy Leader at the Alexander Turnbull Library at the National Library of New Zealand, first drafted the policy in early 2013.

As he points out, “The purpose of the policy is to be able to have a consistent framework across the NLNZ for all of our reuse activities, from supply to management to delivery.

“On the supply side — such as our negotiations and agreements with publishers and donors — the policy attempts to clarify what we say about reuse, and the metadata we use, as early in the process as possible. On the delivery side, the policy covers clear and consistent statements, resolution, and also trying to get the Library to have more items available under ‘no known copyright’ restrictions.”

Mark notes that the initial conversations between the institution and the donor are critical, as this is where conditions around the reuse of collections items are formed. These conditions “flow through the entire life of the collection while it’s with us, which is in perpetuity,” he says.

This is why principle four advises that ‘negotiations with rights owners and donors will promote and be informed by the Creative Commons licensing framework.’ As part of the implementation of the principle, the Library is likely to add a Creative Commons tick-box on the donor form, and provide donors with a range of explanatory resources. Donors will retain the right to restrict access to their work, if they so choose.

The passage of the use and reuse policy took around eighteen months. “It was a series of conversations. It was important that we took our time and listened. The different perspectives in society around use and reuse — which can be a relatively contentious issue — also exist in the Library itself. As an institution, we just talked our way through these issues.

“As a collecting institution, we managed to get a general agreement as to the purpose of what we do: we develop collections, and make them accessible (including through digitisation), because we want people to use them. It was important to clarify that the accessibility and use concepts were different. That was a critical point for moving forward with the policy work.”

Now that the policy has been adopted, the Library is working to implement its principles.

“We’re now establishing our process for the ‘no known copyright’ test, supporting principle five in the policy. We have a process to identify which collections go through the test, which includes considering any cultural or ethical reasons to restrict reuse – but still provide access.”

“A lot of great people in the Library have worked hard to determine those cultural and ethical criteria. Some of this work is challenging those criteria, but it’s also reaffirming some of them. We haven’t yet determined all of the reasons to restrict reuse on a cultural basis, though the idea with the ‘no known copyright test’ is that we’ll be able to determine some of those criteria as we go.”

“We’re also developing procedures to follow when some works are reused in a way that go against the restrictions set by the Library or by donors. This goes to that amorphous issue of trust.”

Howitzer batteries in action at Spice Farm, 1918. (Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association: New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013131-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. No known copyright restrictions)

Howitzer batteries in action at Spice Farm, 1918. (Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association: New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013131-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. No known copyright restrictions)

The Library is also undertaking to map the array of restrictions placed on works by its donors over the years, to ensure that online users are always made aware of these restrictions, while at the same time aiming for clear and consistent rights statements across the Library’s collections.

As Mark wrote on the NLNZ blog, “It sounds simple but there are a lot of current, past, and future permissions and rights statements we have to be able to reflect, cutting across sizeable and diverse collections, in different systems with differing technological capability.”

The NLNZ policy follows the release of nearly 40,000 high-resolution images by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, under either a Creative Commons licence or a no-known-copyright statement.

Mark believes that other collecting institutions are likely to follow in the footsteps of Te Papa and NLNZ — and other international institutions like the Rijksmuseum — and is curious to see which approach other institutions take.

“While Te Papa and NLNZ share the same objectives — i.e. getting no-known-copyright images in high resolution available online — our approaches have differed slightly. Te Papa’s approach is more to release large numbers of images in order to demonstrate value, which is great, they’ve done a magnificent job. On the other hand, the Library took more of a policy approach to get our thinking and framework in place before implementing. I think both are relevant. It will be interesting to see how these approaches play out and what other institutions do. I think both Te Papa and the National Library have demonstrated useful paths forward.”

The first collection released by NLNZ under the policy is the ‘H series’ of photographs from World War One, which is, as Melanie Lovell-Smith points out, “the most comprehensive visual record of New Zealanders on the Western front from 1917 to 1918.”

Read more about the H series

Read Mark’s blog about NLNZ’s Use and Reuse Policy

Read the National Library of New Zealand’s Use and Reuse Policy

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