Introduction

About the Copyright Review Management System Toolkit

This toolkit describes our effort to conduct copyright review of books at a large scale. As you read this toolkit, you may notice some things you would change. We encourage you to identify such opportunities for improvement. This project is the product of evolving tools, staff changes, policy, and practical day-to-day decisions. The CRMS toolkit is meant to make copyright review more accessible to anyone who chooses to take up this work, but it is not meant to circumscribe the activity.

We hope the methods developed here for CRMS will be adopted and adapted to help others responsibly identify and provide meaningful access to public domain collections. At the same time, we acknowledge that CRMS is only one approach in a portfolio of options available. There are many cases where copyright review will not be the preferred path for responsible stewardship of collections. Other provisions of copyright law—for example, fair use—provide robust frameworks that could be far more effective in a given context as you work to make your institution’s collections more openly available. We encourage you to consider and evaluate these other options before embarking on a large-scale copyright review like CRMS. We also believe that aspects of the CRMS approach may be adopted for smaller projects.

In designing this toolkit, the project team relied on its personal experience with CRMS as well as the insights of reviewers, the Advisory Working Group, and HathiTrust stakeholders. We drew inspiration from a number of existing resources, including the IMLS-sponsored Digital Humanities Curation Guide.[1] We hope this toolkit will in turn inspire others working to expand the scope of CRMS activity.

Finally, we would like to note that CRMS processes have given us the latitude to conduct copyright review at a large scale with considerable independence from legal counsel—reducing the day-to-day burden on our counsel and moving our mission forward. While we hope that you will find this model useful, the methods expressed in this toolkit should not be considered legal advice. Ideally, this toolkit will be used as your core team works with your own legal counsel, especially as you develop the legal framework for your project. Once foundational principles are in place, the CRMS approach can help standardize workflow, achieve reliable results, and support the responsible stewardship of your collections.