Comma

Towards an Archival Commons Licence: managing access to the private domain in the digital universe

Comma (2012), 2012, (2), 141–150.

Abstract

This paper proposes the establishment of a web-enabled Archival Commons Licence (AC) to meet the needs of the archives and the community more generally to streamline ethical web access to records held in archives, in particular to born-digital and digitised materials. The Creative Commons Licence (CC) provides a useful model and a working example of the infrastructure needed to support such a service. However, Creative Commons was designed for materials that were always intended for the public domain. Archival materials are not, as a rule, created with publication in mind meaning that for most of these materials the CC licence is not appropriate. At the heart of an Archival Commons licence is the recognition and codification of the obligations that a user should sign up to before getting access to archival materials. Experiences in Australia provide practical examples and a basis for reflection on similar proposals elsewhere. It appears to be achievable but its impact will be much greater if it can be coordinated internationally.

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Author details

McCarthy, Gavan

McCarthy, Gavan