Copyright Aid Forum Index
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in   Main siteC A Main Site 

Documenting company history using Wikis...

 
   Copyright Aid Forum Index -> Ownership and Permission

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Copyright Aid Forum Index -> Ownership and Permission
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
gdas
New Member
New  Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 3:44 am    Post subject: Documenting company history using Wikis... Reply with quote

I have just found your website which is most informative and I have enjoyed reading many of the posts.

A couple of years ago some colleagues and I, all of whom are retired in various countries around the world, decided to document the 100-year history of the company (subsequently referred to as the “Company”) we all worked for a varying number of years. The Company is based in England, has numerous patents to its name, but its various components were bought by others about five years ago and therefore the Company no longer exists per se.

We are using a collaborative software system to generate a series of Wikis all of which are currently private and all contributors were at one time employees of the Company.

We have been scanning in various documents (ranging from 100 years old to 10 years old), reformatting them for consistency and readability before publishing them on the appropriate Wiki. The categories of documents are:

1. Sales material such as catalogues, journals, sales leaflets and specification sheets all generated by the Company and all in the public domain – i.e. to get sales
2. Company documentation such as price lists, marketing strategies, internal equipment workings etc. which may or not be subject to patent and would not be in the public domain
3. Papers written and published by ex-employees which are in the public domain
4. Photographs taken by ex-employees typically of installations around the world, and usually provided from their private collections with their agreement to use
5. Historical detail from books and websites

I should add that where we have a known source, accreditation has been given to individuals, authors, companies and websites.

It is however our wish to make these Wikis public later down the track but we need to be assured we don’t run into problems such as copyright, so your comments would be most appreciated.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle


Joined: 29 Jan 2010
Posts: 1560

PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi gdas,
This sounds like an interesting and worthwhile project.
Where copyright exists in some these materials, then it will form part of the overall intellectual property of the Company and would have passed to the successor in title of the Company. In other words, whoever now owns the Company's patents and trade marks is likely to be the owner of the copyright too. So hopefully it will be easy to identify the current owner, should it be necessary to get permission to use particular materials.

I assume that as you mention that the Company no longer exists per se, there is a successor company. However if the Company went into liquidation you may need to contact the liquidators or administrators who handled the breakup of the company to find out the current owner of the copyright. I feel confident that if this all occurred only 5 years ago there should be a solid paper trail on such matters. Companies House is another useful starting point if there are doubts about what assets went where.

The next thing to say is that as the project stands at the moment, I think this falls firmly within the category of private study and research and so there is no infringement, due to section 29 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, which says:
Quote:
29 Research and private study.
(1)Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purposes of research for a non-commercial purpose does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.[...]
Furthermore the same provision would allow you to publish your work as a wiki provided that this is done on a non-commercial basis.

You mention that some material is in the public domain. I suspect that you may mean that it has been made available to the public. In the context of copyright, public domain has the more precise meaning of something which is no longer protected by copyright and therefore may be freely copied. The second thing to note is that documents or drawings etc produced by former employees are covered by copyright for which the Company was the first owner, by virtue of section 11(2)of the CDPA
Quote:
11 First ownership of copyright.
(1) The author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it, subject to the following provisions.
(2) Where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or a film, is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work subject to any agreement to the contrary.
(3) This section does not apply to Crown copyright or Parliamentary copyright (see sections 163 and 165) or to copyright which subsists by virtue of section 168 (copyright of certain international organisations).
A similar provision over ownership applies to designs and patents produced in the course of employment.

Clearly photographs taken by former employees for their own private purposes are not covered by this, unless of course their work duties included taking such photographs. Similarly personal notes and diary entries would usually be classed as outside the provisions of Section 11, but in most cases all internal correspondence such as memos or emails would fall within the Company's copyright ownership. As long as you acknowledge that copyright in these sorts of materials lies with the Company (ie that it was the owner at the time of creation) then you will be covered by Section 29.

As far as other forms of intellectual property are concerned, there should also be few problems. You will be able to freely reproduce designs, trade marks and patent information as there can be no confusion over why these are being used. So for instance even if a trade mark belonging to the Company is still in use by a successor company, you may use it as long as it is not in connection with trading in the goods or services for which the mark was registered. Politeness and thoroughness might suggest that you acknowledge the current owners of any marks, but that is not a legal requirement.

The single area where you may run into problems concerns trade secrets. If certain information was imparted to any employee under conditions of confidentiality, and these constraints have not been lifted, then the employee is still bound not to reveal the information, even years later. Hopefully any of your collaborators who are in this position will already be aware of this.

Should you need to obtain copies of documents etc pertaining to the Company but which are held in public libraries or archives, you should be aware that these can be requested either under the Freedom of Information Act in the case of government departments and their agencies, or under Sections 39 and 43 of the CDPA. And finally, just bear in mind that the Data Protection Act 1998 will apply to certain information relating to individual employees. You should be exempt from most of its provisions thanks to Section 33
Quote:
33 Research, history and statistics.

(1) In this section— “research purposes” includes statistical or historical purposes; “the relevant conditions”, in relation to any processing of personal data, means the conditions—
    (a) that the data are not processed to support measures or decisions with respect to particular individuals, and
    (b) that the data are not processed in such a way that substantial damage or substantial distress is, or is likely to be, caused to any data subject.

(2) For the purposes of the second data protection principle, the further processing of personal data only for research purposes in compliance with the relevant conditions is not to be regarded as incompatible with the purposes for which they were obtained.

(3) Personal data which are processed only for research purposes in compliance with the relevant conditions may, notwithstanding the fifth data protection principle, be kept indefinitely.

(4) Personal data which are processed only for research purposes are exempt from section 7 if—
    (a) they are processed in compliance with the relevant conditions, and
    (b) the results of the research or any resulting statistics are not made available in a form which identifies data subjects or any of them.

(5)For the purposes of subsections (2) to (4) personal data are not to be treated as processed otherwise than for research purposes merely because the data are disclosed—
    (a) to any person, for research purposes only,
    (b) to the data subject or a person acting on his behalf,
    (c) at the request, or with the consent, of the data subject or a person acting on his behalf, or
    (d) in circumstances in which the person making the disclosure has reasonable grounds for believing that the disclosure falls within paragraph (a), (b) or (c).
But if you are in any doubt you can check with the Information Commissioner's Office.

Good luck with the project.
_________________
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
gdas
New Member
New  Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Andy3,

Thank you so much for your very detailed response, and presented so well. You have provided me with much to follow up on and given me a high degree of confidence that we will be able to steer around the various obstacles.

Very Happy
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle


Joined: 29 Jan 2010
Posts: 1560

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again gdas,
Unfortunately I made a fairly basic error in failing to notice that although the Company to which you referred was based in the UK, you personally are in Australia. If you ultimately end up being the publisher of the wiki, this could affect virtually everything I said in the previous posting, since Australian law will govern your activities. Another factor will be the location of the server(s) which host your site. So if you are intending to publish the wiki or keep the data on a server in Australia, please modify my remarks as follows.
Fortunately the Australian Copyright Act 1968 has a similar fair dealing provision to the UK's section 29. You can find it here: Australian Copyright Act 1968 Section 40. Similar but not the same.
Section 40 appears to be much narrower in its definition of what constitutes research and private study. And as the Act is now quite old, caselaw on the subject will have quite a bearing on the attitude of the Australian court when applying the law. For that reason it might be sensible to get some local legal advice before going full steam ahead and making the wiki available to the public.
Alternatively, if there is a single successor in title to the Company, it might be more straightforward to seek their blessing (in writing!) for your project and that should resolve all the Intellectual Property Rights issues, since they would be the only people with a legimate right to object.
As far as data on individuals is concerned, Australia's equivalent of our Data Protection Act is the Privacy Act 1988. Once again its provisions are by no means identical to the UK legislation and so you should seek guidance from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner if you are in doubt about the privacy aspects of the information your wiki will contain.
_________________
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
gdas
New Member
New  Member


Joined: 28 Oct 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi AndyJ,

This should not be a problem because although I live in Australia I am just one of the researchers scattered around the world who update the Wikis. The lead for the whole project is very clearly coming from the UK the home of the then company and indeed where most of the records are held.

However, one point from your response may be a concern and that is the location of the servers. We use PBWorks as the collaborating software tool and they are physically located in California.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
AndyJ
Oracle
Oracle


Joined: 29 Jan 2010
Posts: 1560

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi gdas,
Since your main target audience is likely to be in the UK, and the subject Company was UK based it is probable that the most appropriate forum, should anyone contemplate litigation, would be the UK. The only significance of the server being in the US is that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act would be the preferred take-down method, and since this would allow you the opportunity to rebut any infringement claims without incurring the costs associated with litigation, and possibly get the material restored to the site, it poses no great threat to your enterprise.
In fact I believe that the US copyright regime would be equally if not more favourable for your project, as it embodies a concept known as Fair Use, part of which looks at the transformative use of the material, and I think clearly in your case that would be easy to demonstrate.
So every thing looks good.
_________________
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Copyright Aid Forum Index -> Ownership and Permission All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1
 

You must be logged in to post  Log inLog in
Want to join in? New members are always welcome  RegisterRegister & join the discussion

 

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group