This episode provides an overview of copyright and other legal considerations surrounding software preservation, sharing and reuse. Guests explore the “square peg, round hole” relationship between software and copyright; and examine differences in intellectual property regimes between the United Kingdom and the United States including copyright, fair use, fair dealing and technological protection exemptions for software preservation.

Discussion Questions:

  • What are your methods for understanding the current legal and policy landscape surrounding sharing and reuse of software?
  • Can you all provide attendees with a brief overview of copyright and software/software curation in UK and US contexts?
  • What are your thoughts on various approaches for securing permissions directly from software publishers? (e.g. bespoke or targeted efforts)
  • How does the risk assessment for preservation vary from the risk assessment for access (e.g., emulation, critical code studies)
  • How could a practitioner build risk assessment into their workflows?
  • What are some strategies for lowering risk?



Supplementary materials:

Websites & Blogs

United States Legal Context:

Canadian Legal Context:

Articles & Reports

United Kingdom Legal Context:

  • Charlesworth, Andrew. (2012) Intellectual Property Rights for Digital Preservation: DPC Technology Watch Report 12-02 2012,
  • Kemper, Jakko; Kolkman, Daan. (2018) Transparent to whom? No algorithmic accountability without a critical audience, Information, Communication & Society, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1477967
  • Rowland, D., Kohl, U. & Charlesworth, A. (2016) Information Technology Law. 1 Aug 2016 5th ed. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Schafer, Burkhard; Edwards, Lilian. (2017). ‘“I spy, with my little sensor”: Fair data handling practices for robots between privacy, copyright and security’, Connection science, Vol 29, pp 200-209
  • Schafer, Burkhard; Komuves, David; Zatarain, Jesus Niebla. Diver, Laurence. (2015).  ‘A fourth law of robotics?: Copyright and the law and ethics of machine co-production’, Artificial Intelligence and Law, Vol 23, pp 217-240
  • Schafer, Burkhard. (2015). ‘D-waste: Data disposal as challenge for waste management in the Internet of Things’, International Review for Information Ethics, Vol 22, pp 100-106

United States Legal Context:

  • Whitt, Richard S. (2017).  ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’ — Technical, Policy, and Financial Actions to Avert the Coming Digital Dark Ages. Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2016. Available at SSRN:

Preferred citation:

Software Preservation Network. Digital Preservation Coalition. (2018, July 11). Episode 6: Overview of Current Trends and Their Legal Implications. Software Preservation Network.