Month: April 2015

Recap of our Workshop on Copyright in Digital Humanities

This copyright workshop, the third in our series designed specifically for graduate students interested in digital humanities, was taught by NYU Libraries’ April Hathcock, Scholarly Communications Librarian, and Monica McCormick, Digital Scholarly Publishing Officer.

(See their workshop notes with links to key resources.)

Before the workshop, students were asked to prepare by reading 3D Scanned Statue Copyright Debacle: How A University Got It Wrong. It tells about a legal challenge to an artist who was 3D scanning a sculpture that is over 400 (!) years old (and definitely not under copyright).

April Hathcock provided a brief introduction to copyright and shared Cornell’s grid on when things pass into the public domain. She explained that cultural heritage institutions like archives and museums can require that you ask them for permission to re-use or re-publish copyrighted works in their collections. But if they create a scanned reproduction of something that is in the public domain, that scan won’t be copyrightable.

If you’re using digital resources that were acquired or made available under a license, then your use is governed by the license and not by copyright. For example, NYU students using ARTstor are governed by the license that NYU Libraries signed in order to make ARTstor images available to the NYU community. Hathcock showed examples of usage restrictions in the licenses of ARTstor and of the UK National Gallery.

Hathcock then walked us through the four factors of fair use analysis and which kinds of uses weigh in favor of asserting fair use. To wrap up her portion of the workshop, she brought licensing, copyright, and fair use all together into a single workflow diagram for determining when to seek permission to use a copyrighted work.

Monica McCormick talked about publishing agreements and encouraged us to negotiate when we’re faced with a publishing contract. We looked closely at parts of two typical contracts and discovered that they required the author to sign away all rights in perpetuity to the publisher. The SPARC Addendum to Publication Agreement can be used as a template for negotiating a better publishing contract.

We also looked at the Creative Commons licenses which allow creators to make explicit how they want to share their online work with users. These licenses provide the copyright holder with a spectrum of options for giving users more or less permission of their works. As well, Creative Commons licenses do not preclude users asserting their fair use rights of a copyright holder’s material.

McCormick concluded the workshop with a discussion about collaboration and provided some examples of best practices developed by scholars for collaborative work. Interesting models include the Digital Humanities Best Practices (in draft), a  Collaborators’ Bill of Rights, and INKE’s very detailed document on attribution, shared authorship, joint IP, and more.

There is more information in the workshop document. And you can find lots of great information on copyright, fair use, and licensing on April Hathcock’s copyright research guide.

Visit the NYU Libraries Digital Scholarship Services blog to see the full list of workshops and public lectures. To contact us, fill out our appointment request form or email us at We look forward to helping you with your digital projects.

Bibliographic Metadata Lecture and Workshop Wrap-up

Last week, NYU Libraries hosted Molly O’Hagan Hardy, Digital Humanities Curator at the American Antiquarian Society. After giving a public lecture discussing some of the theoretical aspects of using bibliographic metadata in digital humanities projects, Hardy led a workshop the following day that taught graduate students some of the skills and methods for utilizing bibliographic metadata in their own research. The events marked a successful beginning to the Polonsky Foundation Graduate Student Workshops in Digital Humanities: Tools and Methods series, which is supported by a grant to the Graduate School of Arts and Science by the Polonsky Foundation.

On Thursday, April 2, 2015, Hardy gave a talk entitled “The Presence of the Past: Histories of the Eighteenth-Century Transatlantic Book Trade in the Digital Age.” During the talk she discussed how the digitization of early modern texts offers an encounter with temporal dislocation as new and old media meet. She examined how the presence of the past in objects that have been retained and remediated is at once foregrounded and elided in the digital moment. Using examples from the eighteenth-century transatlantic book trade as represented in library catalogs and content databases, Hardy gave examples of time’s traces in the archives and how such traces can be re-conceived or eclipsed in digital humanities projects, ultimately asking how dueling temporalities define scholarly practices of research on archival materials in the digital age.

The following day, Hardy led a workshop on Bibliographic Metadata for Digital Humanists. After explaining how extraction of metadata from online public access catalogs (OPACs) can be a powerful first step in creating a digital humanities project, she introduced different types of special collections and union catalogs and gave a brief overview of Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC), the chief format for bibliographic information. The students learned how to use MarcEdit to transform catalog records into Dublin Core, CSV, and other formats useful for online exhibitions, visualization, and bibliometric analysis.

The workshops in the Polonsky Foundation Graduate Student Workshops in Digital Humanities: Tools and Methods series offer graduate students an intensive introduction to tools and methods for digital scholarship through day-long, hands-on sessions with experts in the field. Workshops will explore diverse approaches to research ranging from text markup and analysis to data visualization and mapping. Visit the Digital Scholarship Services blog to see the full list of workshops and public lectures.


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