Archives and Manuscripts Week 9

This week for class we read and discussed concerns with legal issues, such as copyright and privacy. While this may not seem like an exciting topic it is a very important one since it affects the researchers access and use of records. This is because if the creator of a collection, or even a record in that collection, does not give the archives the rights over the documents, then that person would retain the copyright and permission would be needed if one was to use more than fair use in a book and article. Furthermore, this can limit the archives ability to digitize material since posting things open access on the internet may violate the person’s copyright. This concern was expressed in a project undertaken by John Cohen archives, which had to spend 56% of the project tracking down the copyright holders to get permission to post the material online. This therefore poses a major obstacle to archives in trying to make material accessible. One solution is the use of creative commons licensing, which allows the creator to maintain rights to the work but allows it to be freely used and reproduced. The other major discussion was on privacy rights. This centered around to major U.S. laws, HIPAA and FERPA, which protect ones medical records and transcripts respectively. Both of these restrict access to these files for a long period of time, although originally HIPAA called for files to be sealed permanently, which would have had a major negative impact on researchers. Ultimately for the archivist it is important to keep in mind the restrictions in place on various parts of the collections in order to protect the archives, the researchers, and the record creators.

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