The Multifaceted Face of Intellectual Property Rights at the Royal Commission
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is the creator, consumer and disseminator of information on the archaeological, built and maritime heritage of Wales. It has responsibility for originating material through its recording programmes; curating this and other donated records stored in its extensive archives and making these available in its publications, online, through its enquiry service and in its public search room. As such, it is necessary for the organisation to be fully conversant with all aspects of intellectual property rights and build this into everything it does.
The Royal Commission’s archive, the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), is a recognised place of deposit. It holds the national collection of information about the Welsh historic environment from earliest times to the present day and includes over 2 million photographs and many thousands of drawings, surveys, reports, aerial photographs and maps. It is used by individuals, corporations, governmental decision makers, researchers, specialist societies and the media for a huge range of purposes, which include family history, boundary disputes, publications, watching briefs and planning matters.
The records held within the NMRW have many different copyrights. The material produced in-house, as part of our recording programmes, holds Crown Copyright. In general terms, Crown copyright lasts 50 years for published works and 125 for unpublished. The Royal Commission has delegated authority from the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office to administer copyright for this material on the Crown’s behalf. This means that we are able to charge a fee for the re-use of our archival records and employ our own licence agreements to reflect the value added status of this material. The Commission, however, continues to make non-archival information available through the standard Open Government Licence.
Much of the material within the NMRW originates from external sources, having been collected or donated by third parties. People wishing to donate material are required to complete a deposit form where they are asked to outline the copyright status of the items they wish to donate and inform us as to whether they wish to retain copyright, assign the rights to the Commission or have us administer the rights on their behalf. This information is recorded in our accessions register and effects how, and if, we can release the material for re-use. Some historic material, however, can be difficult to trace. In these cases, the onus is placed on those wishing to use the material, to show that they have carried out a search using due diligence. If the rights holder is unknown or has become untraceable the item becomes an ‘orphan work’ and permission to copy these may be sought through the Intellectual Property Office Orphan Works Scheme (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/copyright-orphan-works).
The law surrounding IPR is highly complex in nature and is frequently being updated to enable it to be applied to outputs generated by new technologies and formats. The Commission is renowned for using cutting edge technology to record sites across Wales and work with partners on large scale projects. It is therefore necessary to consider IPR at every stage of the project; to record such things as, what datasets have been combined to produce a final product; what proprietary software has been used and whether third party contractors have retained their rights or have signed them over to us as part of their contract. Thus, in the digital age the Royal Commission’s multifaceted role as the creator, consumer and disseminator of information means that we must be ever more methodical and meticulous in recording every aspect of IPR.
If you have any queries concerning IPR at the Royal Commission or any other aspect of our work, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01970 621200. You can access our collections using Coflein (www.coflein.gov.uk), our on-line site database and catalogue. Here you can view born digital and pre-digitised material and order copies as required. Alternatively, you are welcome to visit our search room to see original material and access the full range of records. We are open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4pm, Wednesday 10:30am to 4:30pm. We look forward to hearing from you.