Crown Copyright - digitisation

Can anyone point me to details on the use of Crown Copyright? I am trying to determine if a 1969 DSIR publication is available to digitise and make publicly available. It is assumed to be Crown copyright and I understand Crown copyright material is fairly freely available for republication but I cannot find anything official which says this! Warrick Taylor PN City Library


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Hi Warrick - As I read it, there are three parts to your question that you need answered: 1. Can you copy it digitally and make it available to the public? 2. Is it Crown Copyright? 3. If it is Crown Copyright, what can you do with it? For the first question, it seems evident that the Palmerston North City Library qualifies as a 'prescribed library' under the Copyright Act. This allows you under Section 55(3) to make digital copies for preservation purposes of any item in your collection if the original is at risk of loss or damage, the copy replaces the original, the original is no longer generally accessible to the public, and you can't buy a replacement. It does not allow to you publish the copy on your website, but you could make it available to the public through onsite services such as a library intranet or offline repository. It seems that it will be difficult to determine whether this particular document is Crown Copyright. The Copyright legislation of the time required that the work had to be made under the direction or control of the Queen or a government department to qualify for Crown Copyright. This was also subject to any agreement between the department and author where it was agreed that the copyright in the work remain with the author. It is quite possible that author had this agreement with their employer, which was not uncommon with works like theses and research papers written by scientists. The only answer to this is to track down the author and ask them, which you will need to do if you want to publish it digitally. If it turns out that it is in fact Crown Copyright, you do not have any automatic rights to use or copy it in ways that may be commonly found on government websites. There is no standard Crown Copyright permission, although there are government web guidelines that recommend permissive uses for content held on government websites (which is why so many websites use the same language). That is not the same as a blanket licence. As the paper is over 25 years old and DSIR no longer exists, it is likely that publication permission is required from the Chief Archivist at Archives NZ. If you conclude that the paper is Crown Copyright, Archives New Zealand is your first port of call. As our standard disclaimer, note that our Make it Digital advice is not legal advice and we are not responsible for any loss or damage caused as a result of following it. If you have specific legal concerns you should seek advice from a lawyer.

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