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Great War Archive


Terry Denham
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I don't know if it's been on the GWF Forum before, but it sounds like an excellent project.

Steve

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3 months doesn't make sense theres still what nearly eight or nine months before November? Surely it can't take four months to sift through and sort the documents and photos? Unless a large volume is expected...

Anyway sounds like a useful resource in a few months.

D.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

As part of the project I thought it might be useful to chip in. The three months is our present timetable. Basically it does take a lot of time to sift through material, and more importantly catalogue it so that it can be searched browsed. We've set this deadline to give us a get-out clause, but if we're keeping up, who knows. There are also open days being held around the UK which we have details on at the web site.

As is widely reported the main thrust of the project is another digitisation effort to capture images of the manuscripts of the major poets (we did Owen 10 years ago, this time we are adding several more). But this is an open call for any memorabilia held by the public that otherwise would not see the light of day or is danger of being lost.

The launch, in November, will be of the two collections, and it will all be freely available world-wide. Teachers etc will also be able to reuse the material as long as it is not for profit.

Hope that helps.

Stuart Lee

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I tried uploading some postcards yesterday and it all went very smoothly. I'd say it's even easier than uploading photos to the forum, not least because the files can be up to 25MB so you probably won't have to worry about resizing or compressing them. I think anyone with photos, documents or artefacts they'd like to share should definitely give it a go. The submission form gives you an opportunity to enter as much background information as you want. Then you can leave it to trained, experienced project staff to turn that into accurate structured metadata which can be searched easily - I'm expecting it to be a lot better than Ancestry.

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This is from the site's FAQs:

How do I know if I own the copyright of the material I wish to submit?

Copyright will vary from object to object. In the case of letters, diaries, etc written by an individual then the rights would reside with the writer or their family until 70 years after the death of the author. For souvenirs (i.e. objects such as military equipment) the right resides with the owner. For printed publications, postcards, comics, official documents, etc, the rights would normally reside with the writer or publisher for 70 years after the death of the writer, or in the case of Crown Copyright for 70 years after publication. We suggest that you submit the items and we will then attempt to assess copyright ourselves, and to get agreement. However, we reserve the right in such cases to remove an item from the public launch of the archive.

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For Stu Lee in particular, and other interested members.

I raised this project with my colleagues at the Oxfordshire Yeomanry Trust, guardians of the collections of the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars. The question of copyright has arisen from them also, and it needs to be resolved. Of course the OU project is very worthwhile and I hope it produces a lot of previously unknown material, but the enormous number of items that already exist throughout the country in regimental and county collections etc should not be forgotten about. What does the OU project plan to do with these as a source?

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In the case of letters, diaries, etc written by an individual then the rights would reside with the writer or their family until 70 years after the death of the author.

As I suspected. So if I hand over a copy of, say, my grandfather's letters home - and he died before 1938 - then what happens to copyright? "We will then assess copyright ourselves". I don't suspect the project to be thinking this way, but what's stops them saying, once it's available on their website, "thanks for that, we now claim publication rights to the letter"?

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By submitting material to the website you grant the project a perpetual non-exclusive licence to publish the material and allow third parties to re-use it for non-commercial educational purposes. If you own the copyright in material you submit you will still own it afterwards. If you don't own the copyright, or copyright doesn't exist then it's nothing for you to worry about.

Photos from this period are likely to be out of copyright. Previously unpublished official documents are likely to be under Crown Copyright, and I'm not sure how the project is going to deal with that. Maybe they'll get special permission from HMSO.

If material has been published and the author died before 1938 copyright no longer exists in it. It's in the public domain and anyone can do anything with it.

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There has been quite a detailed answer re copyright already. Most of the items we are receiving are personally owned (e.g. artefacts) and thus the owner has the copyright, are letters from family members, in which case copyright resides with the estate until 70 years after its first publication (or death of author), or are official documents and thus come under Crown Copyright, i.e. 70 years after issue.

As to the larger collections this is a good point. We have been contacted by archives and local institutions about their collections. We only have two answers. First, if the local collection can scan in items, or scan in a selection then we are willing to take them but we do not have the resources to go down and do a large digitisation project. Second, we will assemble a list of all the ones who ahve contacted us and then present this to the funding agencies and show them the wealth of resources still untapped. It's the best we can do bearing in mind there is only 5 of us and our main focus elsewhere is on the poetical manuscripts.

Stuart

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As I suspected. So if I hand over a copy of, say, my grandfather's letters home - and he died before 1938 - then what happens to copyright? "We will then assess copyright ourselves". I don't suspect the project to be thinking this way, but what's stops them saying, once it's available on their website, "thanks for that, we now claim publication rights to the letter"?

We do not claim publication rights over anything. All you do is assign us the right to make it available via the web site for free. Moreover, our terms and conditions quite clearly state that anyone then looking at the item cannot republish it for commercial purposes.

If it is any consolation, you can imagine that the literary estates of Owen, Thomas, Graves, etc, would have more right to be concerned about this but they have read through the terms and conditions with their lawyers and are satisfied.

I think the important thing is to take a perspective on this. We are Oxford University, not a commercial company, and have no interest in claiming rights as you indicate. More importantly, we are offering people a chance to make material they hold available to the world on a voluntary basis. Consistently the replies we are getting are from people who are extremely grateful to be given somewhere where they can do this, and to feel that in some small way they have contributed to the preservation of the memory of their relatives.

Stuart

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