Managing Digital Content

Metadata – have we got the ethics right?

Guest post by David Haynes, author of Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval: Understanding Metadata and its Use, Second Edition

Use of metadata by the security services

“Metadata tells you everything about somebody’s life.  If you have enough metadata you don’t really need content” (Schneier 2015, p.23)

If anyone wondered about the importance of metadata, this quote by Stuart Baker of the US National Security Agency should leave no one in any doubt.  The Snowden revelations about the routine gathering of metadata about international telephone calls to or from the United States continues to have repercussions today (Greenwald 2013).  Indeed Privacy International (2017) has identified the following types of metadata that is gathered or could be gathered by security agencies:

  • Location
  • Device used
  • Date/time
  • Sender
  • Recipient
  • Length of call

“Metadata in aggregate is content” as Jacob Appelbaum observed when the Wikileaks controversy first blew up  (Democracy Now 2013).  In other words when metadata from different sources is aggregated it can be used to reconstruct the information content of individual communications.

Photo by Matthew Henry on UnsplashInvasion of privacy or personal benefit?

These concerns extend well beyond the use of metadata by Governments and the security services.  The social media giants prosper by exploiting personal data and targeting digital advertising.  Personal profiles of targeted individuals are based on metadata about online use and are the basis of online behavioural advertising.  Cookies and other tracking technologies can monitor the online activity of an individual to predict future behaviour.  Metadata about online sessions reveals a great deal about an individual and his or her life.  This may extend to gathering information about friends, family, colleagues and other contacts.

The upside of this is that metadata is a powerful tool to facilitate use of online services, by remembering users’ preferences and delivering content that is more likely to be of interest or relevance to them.  This has to be balanced against the risks associated with online disclosure of personal data.


Metadata describes an information object whether that be raw data or more descriptive information about an individual.  This is important because the treatment of metadata has become a political issue.  Personal data, especially data that reveals opinions, attitudes and beliefs is potentially very sensitive.  Use of this personal data by service providers or by third parties can expose users to risks such as nuisance from unwanted ads, harassment from internet trolls or fraud through identity theft, if the data is not held or transmitted security.  Many digital advertisers would say that because the data is aggregated it is not possible to identify individuals – i.e. the data is anonymised.  However this is no protection against privacy breaches as has been demonstrated by Narayanan and Shmatikov (2009) and others.

Fact-free content

Daniel Rosenberg (2013) makes a nice distinction between data, facts and evidence.  Data if true may be a fact, but if false ceases to be a fact.  Samuel Arbesman (2012) in his book ‘The Half Life of Facts’ introduced the idea that in a given period half the certainties that we had are shown to be false or are superceded by new understandings and that they cease to be ‘facts’.  Data, whether it is true or not, continues to be data, but is only factual if true.  Perhaps there is some way of recording the reliability of information or data so that it can be exploited appropriately.  Many of the arguments and counter-arguments on climate change for instance centre on the quality and veracity of the evidence used by each side of the debate.  This idea is not new, as medical researchers have for some time evaluated the quality of research used to make clinical decisions.  This information about the quality and reliability of data is metadata.

Metadata is political

Metadata has become a political issue because of its use by security agencies and because of wider privacy issues in the commercial world.  Anyone who had asked the question ‘What does metadata matter?’ prior to 2013 will realise just how important a bearing it has on current political issues.  The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures’ (United States 1791).  A lot hangs on the interpretation of privacy as Solove (2011) has so eloquently discussed in his book ‘Nothing to Hide’.  ‘Fake news’ is not new, but the phenomenon has reared its head in recent elections and is unlikely to go away any time soon.  Good governance also depends on a good understanding of metadata and accountability for past actions.

book cover for Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval: Understanding Metadata and its Use, Second EditionMetadata for information management and retrieval

In the new edition of Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval, published in January 2018 I consider the origins of metadata and look at the ways in which it is used for managing information resources.  The ethical dimensions of metadata are explored and issues such as governance, privacy, security and human rights are considered.  The book also discusses the digital divide and the potential that metadata has for making information accessible to wider audiences.

Metadata has an important role in politics and ethics.  How then do we manage it to best effect?

Haynes, D (2018) Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval: Understanding Metadata and its Use, Second Edition ISBN 9781856048248. Facet Publishing. London, 2018, 267pp.

You can follow David on Twitter @JDavidHaynes


Arbesman, S., 2012. The half-life of facts : why everything we know has an expiration date,

Democracy Now, 2013. Court: Gov’t Can Secretly Obtain Email, Twitter Info from Ex-WikiLeaks Volunteer Jacob Appelbaum. Available at: [Accessed March 21, 2017].

Greenwald, G., 2013. NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily. The Guardian. Available at: [Accessed July 7, 2014].

Narayanan, A. & Shmatikov, V., 2009. De-anonymizing Social Networks. In 2009 30th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. IEEE, pp. 173–187.

Privacy International, 2017. Privacy 101. Metadata. Available at: [Accessed March 23, 2017].

Rosenberg, D., 2013. Data before the Fact. In L. Gitelman, ed. “Raw Data” is an Oxymoron. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 15–40.

Schneier, B., 2015. Data and Goliath: the hidden battles to collect your data and control your world, New York, NY: W.W.Norton.

Solove, D.J., 2011. Nothing to Hide: the false tradeoff between privacy and security, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

United States, 1791. U.S. Constitution Amendment IV, United States.

This post originally appeared in a somewhat different form on the Facet Publishing blog

Delivering a Data Strategy in the Cauldron of Business As Usual

Guest blog by the co-authors of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook, Caroline Carruthers (Group Director of Data Management, Lowell Group) and Peter Jackson (Chief Data Officer, Southern Water).

Being a Chief Data Officer in the current climate is a rather interesting place to be, it can feel a little like dancing on quicksand while you have to learn to juggle wriggling snakes. So in order to help people interested in this area, whether you are a new CDO, well established data hero or just wondering what all the fuss is about, we have worked on a set of articles to answer some of the questions we are asked at nearly every conference we go to. While we can’t promise you a solution to all your data related problems handed to you on a plate, we can promise that once a week you can look forward to another concise, interesting and easy to read article to help you on your data and information related journey.

One of the most difficult tasks for the new CDO is developing a Data Strategy while the organi\zation continues to operate (and must continue to operate) using and abusing data, continuing with bad habits around data and often with a lack of governance and planning. This has been likened to performing open heart surgery on a runner while they are in the middle of a marathon, in reality it’s more like patching them up, giving them water to keep them going and a clear map to get them to the end of the race. In most situations for a new CDO the organisation probably feels that it has been operating quite happily without this new person for a very long while. So, for the new CDO it may feel like they are sitting in the corner talking to themselves. Alternatively the CDO may be met with comments like ‘Yes, we tried that before and it didn’t work’ or ‘ IT/ Finance/ Procurement/ Marketing (delete as appropriate) won’t like you doing that’ or my personal favourite ‘that’s not how we do that here’.

What is the context of Business As Usual? In most cases (unless the organisation is a start-up) it will be:

  • a legacy data environment: siloes of data, multiple records, ‘duplicates’, weak data governance, no useful meta data, heavy MI and no BI.
  • legacy systems: burning platforms, bespoke developments, hard to maintain and manage, reporting systems remote from end-users, no true data management systems
  • legacy business processes: evolved over time, limited by technology and data available at the point in time, containing many work-arounds
  • multiple suppliers: of software and systems
  • legacy IT department: focused on building stuff rather than delivering and supporting software-as-a-service, internal networks as opposed to cloud
  • legacy ‘transformation’ process: based on project governance and waterfall, struggling with agile and innovation. Not able to adapt to transformation being data driven rather than technology driven

The task for the new CDO is how to steer their way through this bubbling cauldron and deliver a data strategy. One approach is to break the task down into two parts: an Immediate Data Strategy (IDS), a tactical approach to deliver support for BAU, gain quick wins and temporary fixes and to prepare the way for the second part. The additional benefit of the IDS is the delivery of incremental value to the organisation through its data, avoiding the hypecycle on the way (the next article deals with this in more detail). The second part is the Target Data Strategy (TDS), the strategic approach. The new CDO cannot sit back and deliver the TDS over a two to three year window, the organisation will probably be expecting some results now, so it is just as important to set realistic expectations as it is to provide some tactical delivery through the IDS. One piece of advice, don’t call these tactical deliveries ‘Projects’ instead refer to them as ‘Initiatives’, this might engender a more agile approach.

The IDS should listen to the organisation’s data pain and try to deliver high profile quick wins. The tactical initiatives of the IDS should blend into the strategy of the TDS, and not run down a rabbit hole or blind alley. The IDS should help build up the narrative and vision of the TDS.

The six key elements of the IDS could be:

  1. Stability and rationalisation of the existing data environment
  2. Data culture and governance
  3. Existing and immediate data and IT development projects
  4. Data exploitation and integration
  5. Data performance, quality, integrity, assurance and provenance
  6. Data security (especially with GDPR in mind).

While the new CDO is delivering the IDS they should be pushing the TDS through business engagement, the organisation needs to be prepared, ready and believe in the changes that are coming. The CDO should also be using the IDS to show the ‘art of the possible’ to a data illiterate business to help the business engage with the new data possibilities. Through the IDS they should be running Proof of Concepts, feasibility studies, data science initiatives and building a narrative around the vision of the TDS for all levels of the business.

Finally, six tips on how to succeed using the IDS and TDS approach:

  1. Use internal communications to sell the vision, don’t allow a vacuum to form
  2. Seek every opportunity to communicate the vision. Do not be frightened of becoming a data bore.
  3. Socialise the data visons and the changes that could be coming, especially the controversial ideas, locate the data champions to support you
  4. Engage the organisation’s leadership and find your senior sponsors, they will be crucial
  5. If you can’t explain it, you’re doing something wrong, ‘it’s me not you’
  6. Win hearts and minds, often a good argument is not enough to win the day.

The book is available to purchase now. This post first appeared in a somewhat different form on the Facet Publishing blog.

Top tips for a data reference interview

The reference interview - or consultation - is a well established technique used by librarians and information professionals. This helps establish the issues that a researcher wishes to cover. More fundamentally it also defines the kind of relationship a researcher will have with those offering advice. Now that the use and management of research data is so important to academics it has become an important potential element of the reference interview. This extract from The Data Librarian's Handbook shows how it can be used to bridge traditional librarianship and the expertise required by the data librarian.

Established researchers often know what datasets are available in their field of study, or at least the main sources and providers from which to seek them. They are immersed in the literature and knowledgeable about the activities of their peers, they know the institutes and principal investigators that are producing research relevant to their work. This is usually not the case with postgraduate students, even less so with undergraduate students, and nor is it the case with researchers exploring the boundaries of their disciplines or doing cross-disciplinary research. 

Fortunately for data librarians, it is possible to become knowledgeable about sourcing datasets in a given field without being an expert in that field. How do data librarians match users to the data required?  Through a reference consultation or interview.

Since every research question is unique (unlike every classroom assignment), it is easy to feel daunted when confronted by a new one. These are some helpful hints to guide you through a difficult reference interview:

  1. Buy yourself time by asking more questions before trying to come up with a source; avoid making assumptions about the user’s requirements, prior knowledge or viewpoint.
  2. Find out if the user is basing their query on a published article; ask for the citation or a copy to help you with the context. If a student, ask who is their teacher or supervisor.
  3. Ask the user to explain acronyms and jargon they use in their language; you do not have to pretend to be an expert in their area of study to help them.
  4. Take notes and write down key phrases as the user speaks (if meeting in person or on the telephone).
  5. Even if you are unable to find the perfect source for your user, you can probably give them some useful starting points for their search, based on your knowledge of data sources, or that of your peers.
  6. Do not be afraid to take time to think, search and consult others; always take the user’s e-mail address for future contact or to follow up.
  7. If you remain stumped, resort to asking others: immediate colleagues, peers at other institutions, government statistical agencies, data providers and publishers. Once you have done your homework and ruled out obvious contenders you can also post to a library mailing list or the member list of IASSIST.
  8. If the query is about using a dataset rather than finding one, take time to read the documentation, try out the interface yourself or reproduce the problem before turning to others for help.
  9. If the user does not voluntarily let you know their query has been satisfied, follow up in a reasonable amount of time to see if you can offer further assistance.

Interest in data has been growing in recent years. Support for this peculiar class of digital information – its use, preservation and curation, and how to support researchers’ production and consumption of it in ever greater volumes to create new knowledge, is needed more than ever.  Many librarians and information professionals are finding their working life is pulling them toward data support or research data management but lack the skills required. The Data Librarian’s Handbook, written by two data librarians with over 30 years’ combined experience, unpicks the everyday role of the data librarian and offers practical guidance on how to collect, curate and crunch data for economic, social and scientific purposes.

(This post originally appeared in a somewhat different form at CILIP)

Books hot off the press, Meet the Authors at the ALA Store in Orlando

Located just inside the Shuttle Bus Entrance at the Orange County Convention Center, the ALA Store offers products that meet the widest range of your promotional and continuing education/professional development needs—as well as fun gift items. Make sure to carve out some time in your schedule during the conference to stop by and examine the many new and bestselling items available!

ALA Store hours:

  • Friday, June 24            12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
  • Saturday, June 25       8:30 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sunday, June 26          8:30 am – 5:00 pm
  • Monday, June 27        9:00 am – 2:00 pm

ALA Graphics will feature a selection of popular posters, bookmarks, and promotional materials, including new 2016 Teen Read Week and Banned Book Week items. And stop by early to get your pick of conference t-shirts—they sell out fast! We’ll also be introducing several brand new items and exclusive gifts:

  • Libraries Transform Expert Badges
  • CSK Book Award T-shirts
  • CSK Book Award Pashmina (limited quantity and only available at the Conference Store)

ALA Editions and ALA divisions are excited to offer several new titles hot off the press, such as “RDA Essentials,” by Thomas Brenndorfer; “Engaging Babies in the Library: Putting Theory into Practice,” by Debra J. Knoll; and “The Librarian's Nitty Gritty Guide to Content Marketing,” by Laura Solomon. Come by the ALA Store for these special Meet the Author events:

Saturday, June 25      

Sunday, June 26      

Remember that you can now find titles from ALA Neal-Schuman and Facet Publishing in the ALA Store. You can also get free shipping on all book orders placed in the ALA Store (posters, bookmarks, and other gift-type items are not eligible for this offer).

Stop by the ALA Store to learn more about our eLearning opportunities. You can also arrange for a live demo of RDA Toolkit—just contact us by June 20 to request an appointment.

Prices at the ALA Store automatically reflect the ALA Member discount, so there’s no need to dig out your Member number. And remember that every dollar you spend at the ALA Store helps support library advocacy, awareness, and other key programs and initiatives!

Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Community

Lesley Ellen Harris will be teaching the ALA Editions eCourse Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Community beginning on September 12th. You can learn more about the course and register for it at the ALA Store.

In July 2011, in one of her first interviews upon becoming the U.S. Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante was asked by Nate Anderson from ARS Technica if the extra attention caused by increased public interest in copyright had complicated life in the U.S. Copyright Office. Pallante’s response:

“I'm thrilled that more people care about copyright. I graduated from law school in 1990 and copyright was kind of a growing field then—environmental law was also newly hot—and it's only gotten bigger and better since. I do look at it sometimes with amusement; the field I obviously fell in love with right off the bat has gained so much attention.

            But I think it's great that the public is interested. It presents a lot of challenges but a lot of opportunities. I would like to see people respect copyright, I would like to see them know how copyright works, what it means for them in their daily lives.

            It's one of those life skills now, right? When you graduate from high school or college, you should know how to read a map, you should know how to use GPS, you should know a little bit about copyright. If you are somebody who is going to be in a field where you will encounter copyrighted materials all the time, you should know more. If you're going to be an artist or musician and you're getting a red-hot degree in the performing arts, you should know a lot. And I don't think that's quite the case—I don't think it's been built into curricula.”

What is Copyright Education and Why is it Important to you?

Libraries in organizations of all sizes are increasingly responsible for obtaining copyright permissions and providing information about copyright law. An increasing role of libraries as “copyright administrators” is to educate various internal people and departments and sometimes the public too about the basics of copyright laws, compliance with copyright guidelines, and respecting terms and conditions in license agreements.

Librarians who want to be perceived as the YES person for obtaining access to use content must be able to educate their community on copyright and licensing. Yet there is no exact definition of the concept of copyright education.  First, it is important that the copyright education be framed according to the needs of and in the context of your own enterprise. You will then need to be creative in developing and instituting an enterprise-wide education program. Your goals will be to increase the comfort level of staff in applying copyright in day-to-day situations, to lower the risk of employees infringing copyright law, and to lower potential or actual costs relating to copyright infringement.

Information about copyright law should come from a variety of sources from print and online information to discussion groups and seminars, courses and workshops. An online course beginning September 12, 2011 covers the following topics:

  • Understanding the risks of copyright infringement and how to protect your library from lawsuits
  • Understanding the need for copyright compliance nationally and globally
  • Evaluating copyright issues in your library
  • Developing a copyright education plan
  • Assessing materials, content and technology in order to equip an instruction team for your institution
  • Keeping your educational program up to date

Taking an active role in copyright education in your library is a giant step towards copyright compliance and management.

“Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Your Community” offered by ALA Editions and taught by Lesley Ellen Harris (, a copyright, licensing and digital property lawyer. Online content will be presented over a four-week period with opportunities to post to online discussion boards, complete weekly assignments and activities and discuss your individual questions.

For more information regarding online learning, see

Your advice for on-line learners? By Joshua Kim     

Our E-books Are Everywhere!

Okay, perhaps not everywhere, but certainly in more places than ever before! We've been working hard to make our e-books more accessible. The following outlets either carry our e-book titles already or will in the near future:

These are just the beginning. Keep your eyes peeled here at the blog for future updates!

ALA Editions on Nook

Owners of a Nook, the award-winning Barnes & Noble eReader, can now purchase several best-selling ALA Editions e-books at We’re adding more titles every week, and among those already available are:

ALA Editions e-books are also available through Amazon, the Google eBookstore, NetLibrary, and other e-book distributors, as well as directly from the ALA Store.

Check Out PLA's Turning the Page 2.0


If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re going to want to check out and sign up for this new, FREE training program. Just one hour a week (like my book!), for six weeks, library staff and supporters from around the country can build their advocacy skills and strengthen their libraries with PLA’s Turning the Page 2.0! If, like many, you’re looking for low-cost, effective and “schedule friendly” training for yourself and/or your staff, don’t miss this!

Go to: and check it out!

Top Ten ALA Editions E-Books

ALA Editions now offers more than 300 titles in at least one e-book format, but can you guess our most popular titles? Here are our top ten bestsellers, in alphabetical order:

Bite-Sized Marketing: Realistic Solutions for the Overworked Librarian
By Nancy Dowd, Mary Evangeliste, and Jonathan Silberman
Written and designed to reflect the way people read today, this book is structured to quickly impart simple and cost-effective ideas on marketing your library.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Cataloging Correctly for Kids: An Introduction to the Tools, Fifth Edition
Edited by Sheila S. Intner, Joanna F. Fountain, & Jean Weihs
Based on guidelines issued by the Association for Library Cataloging and Technical Services (ALCTS), this handbook is a one-stop resource for librarians who organize information for children.
ALA Store, Google eBooks

Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management, Second Edition
By Peggy Johnson
Expert instructor and librarian Peggy Johnson addresses the art in controlling and updating your library's collection.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Gadgets and Gizmos: Personal Electronics and the Library (Library Technology Reports, April 2010, 46:3)
By Jason Griffey
Eminent blogger and library technology expert Jason Griffey provides a comprehensive guide to the present and future of modern gadgets, and how they can fit in to any librarian's plan for a high-tech future.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Introducing RDA: A Guide to the Basics
By Chris Oliver
Resource Description and Access (RDA) is the new cataloguing standard that will replace the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR). This Special Report offers practical advice on how to make the transition.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

No Shelf Required: E-Books in Libraries
Edited by Sue Polanka
In this volume, Sue Polanka brings together a variety of professionals to share their expertise about e-books with librarians and publishers.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, Second Edition
By Joyce G. Saricks
This revised edition provides a way of understanding the vast universe of genre fiction in an easy-to-use format.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Writing and Publishing: The Librarian's Handbook
Carol Smallwood, Editor
If you are interested in writing or reviewing for the library community, in publishing a book, or need to write and publish for tenure, then Writing and Publishing is for you.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory
By Brad Hooper
Whether the ultimate goal is writing for a library website, book club, or monthly handout, or freelancing for a newspaper, magazine, or professional journal, readers will find plenty of ideas and insight here.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism
By Michael Cart
This survey helps YA librarians who want to freshen up their readers’ advisory skills, teachers who use novels in the classroom, and adult services librarians who increasingly find themselves addressing the queries of teen patrons.
ALA Store, Amazon Kindle, Google eBooks

Checklist – 18 Things to Do to Manage Copyright Laws in 2011

Originally posted at Lesley Ellen Harris' Website,

The year end is often a time to review finances, clean off desks, and get organized for the new year.  Below is a list of actions to get your copyright matters in order.

Permissions and Licenses

1. Check all licenses for electronic content to determine if any expire at the end of 2010.  Do you want to renew expiring licenses or allow them to expire?  Do you need to take any action to notify the vendor/content owner of your intention to renew or not renew a license?

2. Prepare a database of all content your organization has licensed. Whether it’s an image to use on a promotional brochure, or content from a large electronic database, include all content in a single searchable database that allows you to quickly and easily locate that content and determine what rights you have in it.

3. Generally, the duration of copyright expires at the end of each calendar year.  Determine if any of the works you want to use will be in the public domain in 2011. Review one list of works entering into the public domain on 1 January 2011.

4. Develop the “ultimate” list on what your organization needs from its license agreements. Do you need remote access or the right to share a PDF file? Do you need to make print-outs, or post articles to your intranet? What about using portions of the database for internal education/ seminars? Use the list as a set of goals in your future negotiations for licenses.


5. Consider your 2011 budget for permissions, licenses and copyright training.  Consult various people in your organization to gather their needs and preferences.  Prepare a draft budget and ensure you have the funds you need to meet your copyright needs in 2011.

Education and Training

6. Brainstorm ideas to get the copyright message to your colleagues.  How about a weekly lunchtime discussion group on copyright issues? Include senior management, marketing and information professionals, and lawyers.  Aim for a diverse group of speakers from authors to photographers to web designers to librarians.  The discussions can help “sensitize” your colleagues about copyright rather than being a lecture style format.

7. Continue your own copyright education.  Do you need a refresher course on copyright?  Or perhaps a course on international copyright or web 2.0 copyright issues?  See what in-person or online courses are being offered.

Management and Compliance

8. Develop a written copyright policy. If you do not already have one, first determine why you need one and how you would use it. If you have one, determine whether it is valuable, how you can improve or update it.

9. Do the same copyright questions arise again and again in your organization? Year end is a good time to compile these questions and prepare short practical answers.  Circulating these Qs & As to your colleagues or posting them on an intranet may help your organization better comply with copyright.

Copyright News and Information

10. Review copyright legislation in 2010 as well as court cases.  Are there any legislative amendments to your country’s Copyright Act that affect you?  Any court cases that interpret the copyright law that relate to your uses of copyright materials?

11. Try to better understand fair use/dealing. Is fair use/dealing narrow or broad? What research is covered by fair use? Create your own checklist to determine what may constitute fair use/dealing in your organization.

12. Create a list of favorite sites and books on copyright so that when you have a copyright issue in 2011, you can quickly consult reliable, helpful sources.

13. Investigate how best to follow copyright issues in 2011.  Sign up for a RSS feed?  Follow someone on Twitter?  (Try Copyrightlaws @ Twitter)  Participate on a discussion list?  There are free and subscription newsletters that may provide timely and relevant news.

Copyright Symbol and Protection

14. Review how you are protecting your own copyright works from documents to images to podcasts and videos.  Although voluntary in most countries, using the universal copyright symbol© is a reminder that copyright exists in a work.  Including contact information for permissions will direct people when obtaining copyright permissions.

15. Copyright registration is voluntary in most countries but consider registering your works with your country’s copyright office.  Rather than registering individual works, register a group or collection of works produced during the year to save time and registration fees.  Registration is important if you are distributing your works to the public and may need to enforce your rights through legal action.

16. Review your agreements with consultants. Who retains copyright ownership in consulting reports? If your organization does, make sure that this is clearly stated in your agreement and if necessary provide for an assignment of this work to your organization. If the consultant owns his works, take a look at the rights your organization has in any of the consultant’s work. If you are a consultant, review what rights you have in your own works.

17. Undergo an intellectual property or IP audit. It’s a great way to make sure all the content and computer software you are using is legal, and a great way to find out what IP you own, and how to market and better profit from that IP. This is true for individuals, small and large organizations.

18. Set up a mechanism for monitoring the legal use of your own online content on an international basis. This can be as simple as doing search engine searches, or you could hire a professional who specializes in finding unauthorized uses of content.  Piracy is not only the domain of the software and entertainment industries.  You may find surprises in how your individual or organization’s rights are being exploited, and your works used and perhaps even sold without your permission.

Click for permission to freely post this checklist on your blog, intranet or website.

Syndicate content