Intellectual Property and Other Legal Issues for Rare Books and Manuscripts

Current faculty: Maureen Whalen

Description: Libraries and individuals have been collecting rare books and manuscripts and providing access to them for a long time.  Given this long history of collecting, one would think that the legal issues have been sorted out and are clearly understood by those working with rare books and manuscripts.  Like many other aspects of 21st century life, however, the law seems to be increasingly impacting what individuals and libraries can collect, from whom, and how they can provide access to that material.  In addition, as claims for the return of confiscated and stolen works increase, booksellers, collectors, and institutions need to be prepared to defend the title to their works and deal with legitimate ownership and repatriation claims.

In Legal Issues Impacting Rare Books and Manuscripts, Maureen Whalen, Associate General Counsel for the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, will provide a survey of the laws of importance to the rare books and manuscripts professional emphasizing current issues and practical applications relevant to all involved.

Topics to be covered will include (not necessarily in this order):

  • Acquisitions by purchase and donation, including a review of acquisition policies, purchase and sale agreements, bequests, deeds of gift, and promised gift agreements;
  • Contracts and licenses – forms and negotiation;
  • Copyright law including rights and reproductions permissions, digitization, and access issues including electronic distribution through third party entities;
  • Deaccession policies and forms;
  • Deposit Agreements;
  • Ethics;
  • Loan Agreements from the perspective of lender and borrower;
  • Intellectual Freedom issues including obscenity, child pornography, and censorship;
  • Privacy and publicity issues relating to creators and owners of the works and third parties;
  • Provenance issues including export and import laws;
  • Tax and appraisals including fractional gifts and donor deductions;
  •  Title claims and other adversarial matters;
  • Trademark law and use of an institution’s name and images; and
  • Use of name and protecting goodwill.

The learning expectations:  (1) students are able to demonstrate a basic understanding of law as it is applied in connection with rare books and manuscripts collections for both individual sellers and collectors as well as libraries and archives; (2) students can participate knowledgeably in discussions with legal counsel and others about policies and practices involving these legal issues; (3) students are comfortable understanding and negotiating contracts and licenses with buyers, sellers, and attorneys; (4) students are prepared to handle adversarial title claims; and (5) students are equipped to participate actively in advocacy efforts.

Years taught: 2012

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