Copyright Statements in Plains to Peaks Collective Digital Collections

  • Summer Shetenhelm Santa Clara University
Keywords: Digital libraries, Copyright


While digital collections provide users with unlimited access to cultural heritage materials, ambiguities about copyright status limit users’ understanding of what can or cannot be done with these materials. This study uses a descriptive research method to examine a sample of copyright statements attached to items in digital collections provided by member organizations of the Plains to Peaks Collective. The Plains to Peaks Collective is a partnership of the Colorado and Wyoming State Libraries that, in Fall 2018, introduced over 181,000 items into the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). This study seeks to answer the following research questions: what copyright statements are included in Plains to Peaks Collective records that have been ingested by DPLA, and what copyright statements are included for public domain Plains to Peaks Collective items at the local system level? The study reveals that a large number of statements included in these collections incorrectly claim copyright over public domain objects and/or provide conflicting rights information. The study concludes with recommendations about how libraries and archives in the Rocky Mountain area and our greater community can better inform users about rights regarding the reuse of digital objects. 

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