[open-humanities] The First Folio

todd.d.robbins at gmail.com todd.d.robbins at gmail.com
Fri Apr 25 22:02:24 UTC 2014

I second Rufus' comment and have learned a lot more about the state of
licensing there at Oxford. James, what committee/persons made the licensing
decision that now stands?


On Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 3:07 AM, Rufus Pollock <rufus.pollock at okfn.org>wrote:

> Just wanted to say that this has been a great thread and James comments
> here were fantastic in explicating a set of complex social and legal issues
> - thanks James!
> Rufus
> On 24 April 2014 17:44, James Cummings <James.Cummings at it.ox.ac.uk> wrote:
>> On 24/04/14 16:25, Seth Woodworth wrote:
>>> Let me begin by thanking Bodleian for releasing this resource
>>> online, and for creating this wonderful TEI edition.
>> Hi Seth,
>> Let me be clear that I do not speak for the project, nothing below is
>> legal advice, and I am not a lawyer. I merely provided the project with TEI
>> encoding advice and a few bits of XSLT to help further enrich, correct, or
>> enable some planned searching of the data.
>>  Thank you doubly for licensing this work under a license
>>> compatible with free cultural works (unlike the current
>>> quartos.org <http://quartos.org>).
>> There were some common members of both projects. I believe that the
>> quartos.org XML files have a non-commercial (CC+By+NC) restriction on
>> them and the images might be even more restricted. I would be tempted to
>> think this was an artifact of a multi-national multi-institutional project.
>> I do not work for the Bodleian (but University of Oxford's IT Services),
>> but believe that the Bodleian has been increasingly working towards an
>> open-by-default policy in their digital materials.
>>  I will, of course, cite your organization as requested in any
>>> projects where I might use your works.
>>> But, I believe you are mistaken in your licensing on the scans.
>> I understand that you believe there was no new work in photographing the
>> the Bodleian First Folio. The work was unbound, conserved, and
>> photographed, all of which are quite skilled stages in conservation,
>> curation, and preservation. They were photographed in raw then converted to
>> tiff then even lower-res but still quite high jpg that you can download
>> fully from the site). I would be unsurprised if the Bodleian wanted to
>> argue that these are not mere scans but high quality photographs with a lot
>> of work and thought put into them.
>>  In the UK and US there is a doctrine that states that there is no
>>> sweat-of-brow copyright.
>>> Transcribing the work into a new format (.jpg) does not grant a
>>> fresh copyright on the work.
>>> Ownership of copyright is a prerequisite to licensing it to third
>>> parties, under a CC license or otherwise.
>>> Wikipedia has a policy about scans of PD works
>>> <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:When_to_use_the_PD-Art_tag>,
>>> that may be relevant.
>> This may confuse the intellectual property right of the text (FF is
>> pre-copyright) with that of the digital images. I do not believe that any
>> new copyright in the First Folio has been created, or indeed ever existed,
>> but digital images of out of copyright works _do_ attract IPR. If I stood
>> outside the Bodleian building and took a photo of the building, you would
>> not argue (I suspect) that I did not have copyright over my digital image.
>> I chose how to frame it, what time of day to take it, whether to have
>> someone cycling by with an Oxford gown on, and indeed how to post-process
>> it to make it look sunny. Likewise if I was in front of a different object
>> that happens to be a book and took a photograph of that, then I should
>> still have copyright in that photograph. (Presuming I didn't sign away this
>> right by conditions of access or something, c.f. British Museum.) I haven't
>> changed the copyright of the original.  You are right, however, that it is
>> possible to argue that the First Folio (as a pre-copyright work) should not
>> be able to be subject to a creative commons license because no one owns the
>> copyright in it. This is not true, many would argue, of the carefully
>> crafted digital images of the conserved object. I suspect that if resource
>> holding institutions were told that they had to openly release any image
>> they took of an out of copyright work as public domain it would be
>> disastrous for the future of (and future research on)  our cultural
>> heritage objects. They'd just stop taking the images (or make it so costly
>> as to be prohibitive). At least these images are available for download
>> under a really quite permissive license.
>> I do happen to know that, because the project to create the images was
>> crowd-funded by the public, the desire is and was always to have the images
>> available with the fewest restrictions possible for the public. I believe
>> those involved with the project went out of their way to ensure a not
>> more-restrictive (e.g. +NC) license was applied. That the Bodleian is
>> moving in the direction of releasing more of its digital materials under
>> open licenses is a good thing, IMHO. And has come a long way compared to a
>> decade ago (compare the restrictions on http://image.ox.ac.uk/show?
>> collection=balliol&manuscript=ms238a for example). It is better than the
>> alternative (because the only real alternative is more restrictive, it will
>> be a while, I suspect, before CC0 and/or public domain is a default with
>> resource-holding institutions). Only time will tell.
>>  I am unclear if a TEI document is a new creative work, or a
>>> faithful conversion into a new format, implying it isn't
>>> copyrightable either.
>> A TEI XML marked up work is almost *definitely* a new creative work. The
>> encoding or annotation of texts is almost always an intellectual activity
>> in itself given the amount of interpretation and choice of encoding that
>> digital editors have. To suggest that such encoding could ever be an
>> uncontested 'faithful conversion' shows that I should be pointing you to
>> the TEI Guidelines to see the vast array of choices and possibilities for
>> interpretation that exist: http://www.tei-c.org/release/
>> doc/tei-p5-doc/en/html/  (All TEI Consortium materials are dual-licensed
>> CC+by and BSD 2-clause if you are interested.)
>>  But I would be very curious to hear people's positions on the matter.
>> While I dislike cultural resource holding institutions of any kind
>> imposing limitations on access to their digital materials, CC+By is an open
>> enough license for me.
>>  Again, your licensing terms are 100% agreeable to me, and I will
>>> respect your wishes for attribution regardless.
>> Again, not mine, but the Bodleian's and I believe they were the best the
>> project could get within current policy. In the end it is better to have
>> them available than not available, and citation is a very low barrier to
>> use. I'm sure that feedback would be appreciated to
>> shakespeare at bodleian.ox.ac.uk.
>> Again, I'm only tangentially involved in the project, do not speak for
>> them or the Bodleian library, and have no legal basis for any of my
>> personal comment or musings above. ;-)
>> -James
>> --
>> Dr James Cummings, James.Cummings at it.ox.ac.uk
>> Academic IT Services, University of Oxford
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> --
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Tod Robbins
Digital Asset Manager, MLIS
todrobbins.com | @todrobbins <http://www.twitter.com/#!/todrobbins>
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