Copyright Education in Libraries, Archives, and Museums: A 21st-Century Approach

Columbia University Libraries co-published with Ithaka S+R a summary report about a roundtable held in Summer 2019 on copyright education in libraries, archives, and museums. The report is the latest effort by a group of copyright experts and educators, led by the Libraries’ Copyright Advisory Services, to strengthen and sustain copyright education in cultural institutions. This round of research was generously funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The initiative was led by Rina Elster Pantalony, the Libraries’ Director of Copyright Advisory Services, in close partnership with Roger Schonfeld of Ithaka S+R, and Tom Clareson of LYRASIS. The report report summarizes discussions during the 2019 roundtable and offers recommendations for next steps to create a virtual center for copyright education in the field. 

Roundtable participants examined existing copyright education practices and also explored unmet needs. Key takeaways included:

  • The current models of copyright education have provided extensive outreach around copyright basics, but these models are not designed to provide more intensive education and may be unable to scale. 
  • Building virtual modules or implementing an entirely virtual approach to copyright education would add flexibility and achieve cost benefits. 
  • Reframing copyright education as policy training, rather than legal training, would allow programming to become more readily embedded in the professional development needs of cultural institutions.

On this basis, participants took initial steps to consider elements of a business model for the provision of a virtual service.

Copyright education is essential to the 21st-century cultural institution, not only to document rights and source information, but also to advance institutional obligations surrounding access and preservation of cultural heritage materials. This initiative to foster and expand copyright education as a vital aspect of professional development is one that will benefit all cultural institutions.