Intellectual Property (IP) Rights
It is particularly crucial for data collectors and depositors to ensure that all necessary copyright permissions have been cleared prior to deposit and that ownership of the materials has been established. This is of particular importance if the data have been created from a variety of sources or if the research has been funded by a number of organisations. In these cases permission to deposit and disseminate the materials must be sought from all interested parties and a covering letter confirming agreement should accompany the materials when deposited.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property right (IPR). Intellectual property rights (IPR), very broadly, are rights granted to creators and owners of works that are the result of human intellectual creativity. To copyright a work is to protect the labour, skill and judgement that someone has expended in the creation of that original work. It is automatically assigned and does not need to be applied for. Usually copyright is retained by the author - sometimes defined as and including the individual, organisation or institution. If a piece of work is completed as part of your employment, your employer will usually retain copyright in your work.
Copyright assignment is usually more straightforward in the case of data collection undertakings which produce new data. If questions have been used from existing questionnaires for the purposes of the undertaking, copyright permissions will have to be cleared with the owner/creator of the questionnaire concerned. Anyone who is commissioned to create a piece of work on behalf of someone else will retain copyright in that work.
In cases of qualitative materials, such as unstructured or semi-structured in-depth interviews, the speaker holds the copyright in the spoken word and the transcription of the words on paper or computer is protected by copyright and owned by the person making the transcription. If the transcription is a substantial reproduction of the words spoken, the speaker will own copyright in the words and a separate copyright will apply to the transcription. This is of particular relevance to the recording of in-depth interviews. This also applies to a recording on tape or video. The person making the recording will own the copyright in the recording and the interviewee will own the copyright in the words.
Rights of the Copyright Holder Maintained
Copyright can only be transferred in writing and signed by the person making the transfer. This document is called an assignment. If researchers wish to publish large extracts from an interview, it is advisable to obtain a transfer of copyright. Copyright in the United Kingdom, for example, lasts for 70 years after the end of the year in which the author dies. However, this may vary in other CESSDA countries. In those cases where data from several countries are combined in one file, the issue of copyright can become quite complex and should therefore be addressed at an early stage.
The rights of the original copyright holder are maintained by the archive through the access conditions for the dissemination of the materials deposited agreed between the archive and the depositor at the time of deposit using a licence agreement. This agreement is a contractually binding legal document. Similarly, when materials are requested from the archive, a further document or access agreement whereby the user undertakes to abide by any and all conditions stipulated in the agreement, will usually be completed before any materials are supplied. It is the combination of these contractual agreements that ensures copyright infringement does not occur.
Data Archive Will Advise You
If it is not clear to whom copyright should be assigned, the data archive should be able to advise you on ways of deciding who holds the copyright, and to give you references to consult on copyright law in your own country. These references might well be available via the archive website.