Blurred Boundaries: Intellectual Property and Networked Sharing of Content

Virtual Conference

What’s currently simmering in the realm of intellectual property? There’s been talk of filtering technologies, making the Internet less hospitable to re-use of content and images. There’s been talk of a “link tax”. In an age when digital media collections may quickly be threatened by obsolescence, what protections may be extended to an archive’s specialized focus on a particular format (such as televised news) or delivery via a particular social media platform?

Researchers seeking to disseminate their work to colleagues have adopted a variety of academic networks as well as well-branded, subject-specific archives to house their preprints. Here too there may be a bit of unease in knowing where the boundaries of appropriate sharing lie. Will this platform or that demonstrate compliance with a funder’s mandate? Is the work adequately discoverable? Sometimes the appropriate avenue for sharing is obvious and without pitfalls; other times, the sharing creates prickling unease.

This session will bring together expert voices with a variety of perspectives to discuss the challenges, the signposts for appropriate handling and perhaps even concessions encountered in the usage, protection, and preservation of digital content.  

Confirmed speakers include: Brian Mathews, Associate Dean for Innovation, Preservation, and Access, Carnegie Mellon University; William Gunn, Director of Scholarly Communications, Mendeley;  Jennifer Kilpatrick, Vice President/Editorial, SLACK and Karen Stanwood, Editorial Director, SLACK; Mark Seeley, Principal, SciPubLaw; Lisa Deluca, Social Sciences Librarian, Seton Hall University; Erin Owens, Scholarly Communications Librarian, Sam Houston State University. 

Event Sessions

12:00 – 12:15 Welcome and Overview


12:15 – 12:45 Illicit Intent versus Ignorance: Researchers and the Online Sharing of Content


Erin Owens

Scholarly Communication Librarian
Sam Houston State University

Researchers today share published content, whether their own or someone else’s, in institutional repositories, disciplinary archives, scholarly collaboration networks (SCNs), and even shady sites like SciHub—but all too often, they do so without proper consideration of the intellectual property and copyright issues involved. Are they activists trying to tear down our system of IP protections? Do they not care about respecting copyright law? Or are they simply ignorant of how these issues intersect with the goals on which they are focused? This session will reflect on researcher goals and concerns, the pressures that researchers face to find and share content online, and the “blind spots” regarding legality that sometimes result.

12:45 – 1:15 Stewarding the Infrastructure


Brian Mathews

Associate Dean for Innovation, Preservation, and Access
Carnegie Mellon University

As librarians embrace a more facilitative role as stewards of the scholarly information environment, new responsibilities are emerging. As key contributors to the critical research infrastructure, librarians, curators, archivists, developers, and other specialists are working to advance issues related to digital preservation, data reuse and discovery, and interoperability via open architectures. This session will look broadly at intellectual property challenges across the domains of digital humanities, digital scholarship, and open science and highlight opportunities for community engagement and some possibilities to help propel science and scholarship forward.

1:15 – 1:45 Sharing of Digital Content: A Publisher Perspective


As journal content has moved from primarily print to predominantly digital, publishers have had to develop and/or reevaluate their sharing policies. It can be difficult to strike a balance between researchers’ needs for dissemination and publishers’ need to protect their investment. In this session, we’ll describe our sharing policies and the rationale behind them, as well as how the publisher infrastructure can benefit researchers.


1:45 -2:00 Break

2:00 – 2:30 Building Momentum and Support for Institutional Repository Deposits


Part of the progressive liaison librarian role is to encourage faculty, students and campus organizations to deposit content in Seton Hall University Libraries’ Institutional Repository (IR).  The presentation will discuss deposit options, content discoverability and collection preservation.  Importantly, the Analytics Dashboard in our IR is very useful to show readership worldwide and build the momentum for new content. 

2:30 – 3:00 Scholarly Collaboration Networks: where did they come from and where are they going?


This talk will cover the recent history of SCNs, their role in the scholarly communications ecosystem, their various approaches to working with publishers & where we see them heading in the future.

3:00 – 3:30 Legal issues in “controlled digital lending"


The copying and distribution of copyrighted content by libraries present complex legal issues, and although there are existing copyright law exceptions for such library activities (primarily in Section 108 of the US Copyright Law), those exceptions have not formally been amended for digital and online uses. The position statement and white paper on controlled digital lending (CDL) published in September 2018 by Kyle Courtney (Harvard) and David Hansen (Duke) is endorsed by a number of libraries, copyright academics, and other organizations such as the Internet Archive, but should be understood to be primarily an advocacy position, relying principally on a “fair use” argument and some risk assessment.  While in the past publishers and libraries have worked together on legislative solutions including a working group on Section 108 in the mid-2000’s, and on a number of pilot e-book lending projects in 2013 and 2014, there was no such “bipartisan” engagement in developing the CDL proposal, and publishers (the AAP) and authors (the Authors Guild) have noted their opposition and disagreement with the CDL position.  I will review the legal issues and discuss alternatives and concerns.

3:30 – 4:00 Roundtable Discussion

Roundtable Discussion Moderated by Todd Carpenter, Executive Director, NISO

Additional Information

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