“Descriptive Metadata for Copyright Status”

An interesting article in First Monday proposes that a set of descriptive data elements could accompany digital materials to inform potential users of the copyright status of the item. It concludes: “Adding descriptive data elements for copyright status to the metadata created for intellectual works places a burden on the communities that create that metadata. The lack of such descriptive data elements, however, places an even larger burden on those who would like to make use of the works. Today’s massive problem of orphan works (U.S. Copyright Office, August, 2005) arises mainly because information about the initial creation of the work has been lost over time. More particularly, there was no effective means to record that information when it was available. Digital works and analog works that are digitized can be removed from the original context that contains many of the elements that are evidence of the copyright status of a work, such as the provenance of the archive. The provision of descriptive data elements that can be transmitted with the work itself should facilitate subsequent uses of the valuable intellectual content that the work represents. Copyright–related metadata, therefore, should be seen as an essential component of the resource description”.

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