Software Preservation and Copyright - Adapting the ARL Fair Use Code of Best Practices for Canada: Preliminary Findings

Preserving and maintaining library collections is an area where libraries and copyright naturally intersect, particularly in the modern age. To properly preserve and maintain print and digital library materials and the outputs of digital scholarship, libraries must make copies of works in many cases. In fact, digital works are often at risk of being lost well before the term of copyright expires. This is most relevant for formats that are either obsolete or becoming obsolete, or which require the use of computer software that is itself becoming obsolete. Computer software is a class of works that presents unique preservation issues. As articulated by Krista Cox on September 24, 2018: Libraries, archives and museums hold thousands of software titles that are no longer in commercial distribution, but institutions lack explicit authorization from the copyright holders to preserve these titles or make them available. Memory institutions also hold a wealth of electronic files (text, images, data, and more) that are inaccessible without this legacy software. Over the next six months, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) will investigate adapting the Association of Research Libraries' "Code of Best Practices in Fair use for Software Preservation" for use in Canada. This session will report on the progress of this investigation, and will include an in-depth examination of the use of fair dealing for software preservation. We will examine the applicability of other Copyright exceptions for preserving software in library collections (including the library preservation exception). Finally, we will discuss other legal restrictions that may stand in the way of library software presentation, including issues around licensing and anti-circumvention.
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