I am replying to your message on the list so that others see my reply,
though not because I am going to offer any diaries at the PRO at the moment.
My concern is the question of copyright.
Diaries of known individuals (I imagine there are few that are anonymous)
who died before 1 January 1969 and that were unpublished before 1 August
1989 will be in copyright until the end of the year 2039. In almost all
cases the copyright is likely to have descended to the residuary legatees of
the diarists and to successive legatees thereafter, or to the legal
representatives of those who died intestate. Those copyright owners might be
difficult to trace, but the effort would nevertheless still have to be made
in order to secure their permission for such a project.
There are two possible means to escape the consequences of this.
If the owner of an unpublished diary is also the owner of the copyright in
it, and the diary is explicitly bequeathed to an individual or body in that
person's will, the copyright is deemed to be bequeathed too unless the will
makes other explicit provision for the copyright. Thus any record office
that holds diaries by bequest may probably proceed with safety (though I
suggest that a check of the terms of the will would be in order).
If the diary was created before 1 August 1989; the author is known to have
been dead for more than 50 years; the diary is more than 100 years old; and
the present copyright owner is unknown to the publisher, the diary may be
published without permission.
In the absence of any of: (i) permission from the copyright owner; (ii)
ownership of the copyright by the record office; or (iii) the satisfaction
of the conditions outlined in the paragraph above, I should advise no record
office to become involved. The regulations that enable record offices to
supply copies of records held without infringement of copyright explicitly
do not apply if the archivist knows (or ought to know) that the copies will
be used for anything other than research or private study. Publication on
the Internet emphatically is not research or private study. By allowing
digitisation, therefore, the archivist could be putting him or herself in
double jeopardy: direct infringement of copyright by supplying the copies
without authority and secondary infringement by implicitly authorising
Curator of Photographs
Secretary of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council on Public Records
Public Record Office
Tel: 020-8876 3444 ext 2351
Fax: 020-8392 5295
> From: Wakely ,Ms Helen[SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> Reply To: Wakely ,Ms Helen
> Sent: 18 January 2000 15:30
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Channel 4 Schools NOF bid - participants sought
> The SoA Specialist Repositories Group has recently been contacted with
> details of a proposed bid by Channel 4 Schools to the New Opportunities
> for a Digitisation of Learning Materials project on diaries. Channel 4
> looking for participant repositories with suitable material, so if you are
> interested read on...
> Dear Susan Snell,
> I hope you don't mind me approaching you in your capacity as Chair of
> the Special Repositories Group of the Society of Archivists. I do so on
> the recommendation of Dr Christopher Kitching at the RC on Historical
> I would be very grateful for your opinion on a proposal I am currently
> shaping into a bid to the New Opportunities Fund, on behalf of Channel 4
> Schools, for the Digitisation of Learning Materials.
> As you probably know the first drafts of these bids have to be submitted
> by the end of this month; in June successful applicants will be invited
> to participate in a second round with more detailed proposals.
> I would be interested to know if any members of your Special
> Repositories Group would be interested in participating in this project
> if it proves to be successful. At this stage, only expressions of
> interest and willing in principle are required!
> Briefly, Channel 4 Schools proposes to build a 'People's Archive' by
> making accessible diaries written by ordinary people in the past. These
> diaries - most of them handwritten and unpublished - are deposited in
> libraries, archives and collections all over the UK and are inaccessible
> to all but the most dedicated researchers. Yet, their accounts either
> of important events or of the ups and downs of everyday life can make
> history vivid for anyone with the mildest curiosity about the past.
> Channel 4 Schools seeks funding to digitise as many of these personal,
> eyewitness accounts as possible, to make them available on the internet,
> to provide contextual information and navigational facilities.
> Partnerships with collections are sought to help identify suitable
> material, to lend their expertise in information management, historical
> knowledge, assistance with permissions from rights holders and goodwill.
> I'd be very interested to receive comments and advice from you or from
> any other members of your group.
> Yours sincerely
> Tana Wollen
> 49 Tremadoc Road
> London SW4 7NA
> Tel/fax: + 44 (0)171 720 6476
> Forwarded by:
> Helen Wakely,
> Assistant Archivist, Contemporary Medical Archives Centre,
> Wellcome Library, 183 Euston Road, London NB1 2BE
> 0171-611 8486 (tel)/ 8703 (fax)
> [log in to unmask]