Institutional Repository Copyright Infringement Liability

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  • Hi there,

    Our institution's library is developing an institutional repository in cooperation with one of the schools. The idea is that interested faculty may contribute their papers (published or unpublished) to the respository so that reserachers within the community can have free access to them. The university library offers the services and supporting technology, but the contribution will be mainly be done by the faculty or their assistants or their unit/department project administrators. The contributors will need to submit the papers with certain metadata filled. The unit/department administrators will review and approve the submissions so that the papers may be online. At the pilot stage, a few librarians will be testing contributing some papers under the agreement with the faculty. As the project runs into normal operation, it is up to either the faculty themselves, or their assistants, or their unit/department administrators (of the project) to submit the papers.

    Now we are trying to make copyright infingement liability policy and, hopefully, policy on addressing complaints in this regard from publishers.
    In our submission agreement between the university libraryand and each unit, it says clearly that the unit will ensure that the material deposited does not infringe any copyright.

    The fact is that the nature of the unit/department administrator job is more like a secretary who eiher simply ensures that papers submitted are in required format or also be uploading some papares on behalf of the faculty at their request. Shold a complaint of copyright infringement be filed, would the unit/department administrator be liable, or it makes more sense that the author in concern be liable? (Either way, the university doesn't want to be liable simply because we offer the service.)

    Another note: the person who submits the papers may be the faculty, or their assistants, or the unit/department administrator, but the final approval for putting the papers into the repository is by unit/department administrator. So should the paper submittor or the administrator who reviews and approves be liable?

    Any advice?

  • I think that the copyright holder who makes the claim of infringement can sue whomever he chooses. My assumption is that the holder would want to be able to make a good argument. The holder would have to prove that the infringement occurred (which if I understand you correctly would be pretty easy because one would find the copied journal articles on this archive). The holder could also claim contributory infringement - someone or some group or institutional aided in the process of committing the infringement.
  • As Faculty outreach librarian, I've been required to clear permissions for anything we post to our institutional repository for the last 5 years or so. We are moving to a new platform and would like to increase content by faculty self submitting their publications. Is their acceptance of the click through non exclusive license we provide at point of submission enough for us to demonstrate a good faith effort on the copyright front? In other words, are we on solid ground taking their word that they have rights to post whatever they submit? Should our license agreement contain specialized language exonerating us in this matter?
    Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

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