Share in our discoveries across three projects as we work to provide the first intellectual access to our hidden treasures relating to work and labor in early 20th Century New England, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair and its period, and Boston local TV news.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Repositories of Cultural History

Kenneth Crews, Columbia University; Sam Brylawski, University of California Santa Barbara; Robert Clarida, Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman; Robert Wolven, Columbia University Libraries; Karan Sheldon, Northeast Historic Film; Eric Schwartz, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.
The Kernochan Center for Law, Media & the Arts, Columbia Law School, with the Rockefeller Archive Center, hosted a day on digital archives and legal issues on Friday, April 16. "Archives and library special collections are repositories of cultural history," yes, we think so, and then we spend a day on legal hurdles.

Thank you to June Besek, who called me with the invitation to participate in the afternoon panel on Sound and Video Archives with the congenial group pictured above. Sam Brylawski suggests we read Besek's study for the LOC's National Recording Preservation Board,
Copyright Issues Relevant to Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Pre-1972 Commercial Sound Recordings by Libraries and Archives. PDF download on the CLIR Website.

William J. Maher, University Archivist at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offered an overview on barriers to digitization, exhorting us not to pass on our backlogs. The Hidden Collections initiative has allowed us to muscle up to get through our generation's backlog. In the 1980s Northeast Historic Film established collecting practices in largely unexplored areas such as home movies and committed to respecting the fonds and the value of these records...and now we are on a drive to further expose these collections to research.

The Sound and Video Archives roundtable was moderated by Kenny Crews, Director of Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Office. Each of us shared experiences and dilemmas and were offered provocative examples. Robert Clarida opened our eyes to the notion of secondary liability when we offer moving images online from our repositories and provide persistent unique identifiers. "Having a license plate on something may not be a good idea. It may be an archival advantage, but not to your advantage to be identified with it" in case of infringement down the line.

Moving image colleagues in the house: Peter Kaufman, Carol Radovich, Dwight Swanson. Ricky Erway of OCLC Research reported on a survey of digitization projects from Boutique Collections to Massively Massive (publication June 2010). A favorite moment was Robert Sink of the Center for Jewish History noting that we should seek contact with rights holders as promoting potential future donations and support. He urges us to undertake not just a risk assessment (in a day focused on risk) but an opportunity assessment.

The meeting will be streamed online and law students will prepare a transcript for posting.


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