12th Aug 2020




Draft Copyright Guide for Indian Libraries

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The National Digital Library of India is an initiative envisaged to educate, enable and empower young India from the very grassroots with quality knowledge and learning resources across geographies, using the power of the digital medium.

However, like every new wave washes in its own set of challenges, knowledge economy has brought about in its own technology quicksand and as gatekeepers of knowledge, standing at the door of a digital era, the modern day librarian is now frequently faced with multifarious issues with regards to intellectual property and copyrights.

Digitization has opened up a whole new subject in the form of patents, trademarks and copyrights. We are dealing with vast amounts of data daily thanks to the instant access of digital, and particularly on the subject of education and knowledge sharing, India as a country is yet to consolidate its laws and policies.

Speaking from our own learning curve, legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray's 'Kheror Khata' or 'Red Note Books' were available for free access through the NDLI portal and mobile apps. Containing the director's hand-written notes, this priceless piece of document faced infringement when our team received news that the book was being downloaded and sold in 2017. We had to block the print option immediately and watermark every page (ruining the aesthetic of the original document, no doubt).

Over 160+ scanned books in the archive of our partner DLI (Digital Library of India) attracted notices from alleged breaches of copyright leading to the temporary shutdown of the entire website and consequent quarantining of 5Lakh rare books from NDLI.

We even received rights violation alerts from one of our European content providers which made us realize, that to execute our vision for an ubiquitous knowledge resource, we first need to lay a strong legal foundation in terms of copyright to prevent misuse and infringement of such vast reserves of content.

So we started asking -

How do we share content with expression of rights for every stakeholder?

Copyright and Intellectual Property has been a major learning experience throughout our operation.

NDLI conducted the National Workshop on Copyright Issues in 2018, in collaboration with imminent IP lawyers, librarians of premier institutes across the nation as well as government policy makers to come up with a Manual of Copyright Best Practices, the very first of its kind, for India.

While we need to protect the knowledge creators,

How do we provide for the end-user?

We conducted the National Workshop on Copyright Issues from 8-10Feb, 2018.

Two years down the line here are our highlight learning outcomes:

  • The NDLI is now a steering committee member of rightstatements.org
  • Apart from 8 other world languages, facilitated by NDLI, the statements have now been translated in hindi and can be viewed here

Not only are digital libraries sensitive to copyright violations, due to the formative nature of IP laws it becomes imperative for libraries as well as countries to have robust standards for usage, sharing of content and collaborations.

We went as far as a national charter.

The manual is now available for public viewing here.

Please note, that we are inviting comments and feedback, especially from librarians across the country from 12th Aug - 30th Sep '2020. Post collation of the feedback, we shall be releasing the final document which can then be officially cited. To submit feedback, click here


KEDL 2019: Legal Aspects of NDLI and Intellectual Property Rights

National Reading Month 2020: Copyright laws and Digital Libraries

KEDL 2017 : Delocalization of Knowledge- Role of Copyrights

NDLI Gurukosh: The one on Copyright Laws and Digital Libraries

Open & Contribution: Trends in Digital Libraries’ Engagement with Online Community - Liam Wyatt