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Rights management – the Spectrum standard

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You should have a policy covering rights management. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, in deciding your policy you will most likely need to consider these questions:

  • What steps will you take to establish who holds any rights associated with new acquisitions or loans?
  • If applicable, will you seek to acquire copyright, or a licence to use the material, in new acquisitions?
  • Will you seek to acquire copyright, or a licence to use the material, in reproductions or other work carried out on behalf by volunteers or contractors?
  • What steps will you take to research the rights associated with objects and reproductions already in your collections, and how will you prioritise this work?
  • What is your policy on using material that is likely to be in copyright but whose rights holders are unknown or untraceable?
  • To what extent will you help enquirers make contact with third-party rights holders, and how will you protect any personal data involved?
  • What is your policy on licensing material for which you hold rights for use in different situations (eg commercial publication, re-use of online material)?

You should also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when managing rights associated with your collection. Spectrum’s suggested procedure is a useful starting point, but however you do it, your own procedure should meet the following minimum requirements:

Minimum requirement Why this is important
Where known, you record details of rights held by you and others in respect of your objects and reproductions – and reference this information from the relevant catalogue records. You can quickly see from its catalogue record that an object or reproduction is subject to rights – and who the rights holder is.
You document rights associated with new acquisitions, and with new reproductions or other content created or commissioned by you, as soon as possible. You do not build up a new backlog of material with poorly-documented rights information.
You keep rights holder contact details as up-to-date as practical, in line with your data protection policy. You can contact rights holders (or their estates) if you need to, potentially up to 70 years after the original creator dies.
You document all agreements with rights holders that clear you to use their material – and reference these from the relevant catalogue records. You can find written proof of permission to use copyright material if you need it (eg if a dispute arises in future).
Before using objects or reproductions likely to be in copyright, but where the rights holders are unknown or untraceable, you make reasonable enquiries and document these. You can demonstrate due diligence if you decide to use the material anyway.
You document all licences allowing others to use material for which you hold copyright or publication rights – and reference these from the relevant catalogue records. Where applicable, you can control how your rights-protected material is used.
Your system allows you to see when rights or licences have expired. You are able to use material freely as it comes out of copyright.

You do not use material under licence for longer than allowed.

 

Date created: 2017

Publisher: Collections Trust