Copyright touches many library services because we collect, share and loan original works fixed in a wide variety of tangible media. The Copyright Resources Center conducted a series of informational interviews with faculty and staff from various areas of The Ohio State University Libraries to discuss the ways in which they engage with copyright issues. This blog series documents those conversations, and highlights how copyright law helps to shape services provided by the Libraries. See all posts in the series here.

Photo of Maureen Walsh

Maureen Walsh,
Institutional Repository Services Librarian

Digital Content Services at The OSU Libraries includes the Libraries’ Publishing Program and the Knowledge Bank, OSU’s institutional repository (this post focuses on the Knowledge Bank, while Digital Content Services: Part 1 discussed the Libraries’ Publishing Program). Melanie Schlosser (Digital Publishing Librarian) and Maureen Walsh (Institutional Repository Services Librarian) are interim co-heads of Digital Content Services; Melanie and Maureen met with me to discuss the ways that copyright affects their work in the publishing program and the institutional repository. In fact, they observed that not a day goes by when they aren’t thinking about copyright, as they are constantly working with copyrighted materials and “someone else’s content.”

Maureen Walsh heads the Knowledge Bank program. The Knowledge Bank “collects, preserves, and distributes the intellectual output of The Ohio State University.” It houses a wide variety of materials from partners across the university, including conference proceedings and presentations, technical reports, working papers, faculty articles, journals (including some of the journals published through the Libraries’ Publishing Program), and undergraduate theses.

Maureen and the Knowledge Bank team routinely deal with questions about rights and permissions as the Knowledge Bank collects and preserves OSU research and scholarship and makes it openly available on the web to enrich research and education. No two collections and therefore no two copyright situations are ever exactly alike. The Knowledge Bank archives diverse materials from a variety of sources, both international and domestic, and from a variety authors including current students, former faculty who died over a century ago, and corporate entities. Each new item or collection requires some consideration of rights issues to ensure compliance with copyright.

When new collections are proposed for inclusion in the Knowledge Bank, they often include large back runs of previously published content. Before the materials can be added to the Knowledge Bank, Maureen works with the partner proposing the collection to determine whether there is a publishing agreement in effect and the terms of the agreement if one exists. Prior publishing agreements also play a large role in archiving individual faculty papers as they may restrict when and what version of the article can be archived.

Users may submit materials directly to the Knowledge Bank once they are authorized as a contributor to a particular collection, or Maureen and her staff will submit materials on a user’s behalf. In both scenarios, the user is required to sign the Knowledge Bank license agreement as part of the submission process, which affirms that the user has the legal right to submit the material to the Knowledge Bank and grants permission to the Knowledge Bank to archive and distribute the submitted material. The license also includes the option to select a Creative Commons license for the materials. Maureen works with collection owners to identify the appropriate person to sign the Knowledge Bank license agreement, and to select the rights statement to accompany materials in the collection.

This blog has presented a snapshot of the impact copyright has on just one area of the Libraries. Copyright affects libraries and higher education in a multitude of ways, often with idiosyncrasies particular to various subjects and disciplines. Additional posts in this series explore other instances in which copyright affects library services and collections; you can see all posts in the series here.



By Jessica Chan, Rights Management Specialist at the Copyright Resources Center, The Ohio State University Libraries