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Copyrights in THL

Overview of THL Copyrights

THL wholeheartedly embraces free software, open source and free knowledge movements. We believe that only in collaboration and sharing on a non-commerical basis is a more positive future possible in which expanding knowledge proceeds hand-in-hand with communal and humanistic values. At the same time, those most committed to knowledge – scholars, teachers, artists, librarians, and the like – are often as individuals, institutions and communities the most economically challenged. Hence it is also important to protect their rights to make a reasonable livelihood from their intellectual, artistic and educational products. We aim to make THL a convergence of different institutions, individuals and communities, and thus want to remain open to diverse copyright arrangements that allows others to share their resources yet retain the ability to make a livelihood as relevant. We believe that others should always clearly credit the original creator of data, texts, art, or software when they are used or reproduced.

In order to accomplish these aims, we have a flexible array of copyright options designed to maximize utility and synergy on the one hand, yet still provide reasonable protection for creators on the other hand. Materials created by THL staff while under salary to THL belong to THL unless separate written arrangements have been made; materials submitted to THL by non-staff entail granting THL a non-exclusive permanent right to display and use the images, while the actual copyright remains with the creator. Practically speaking, we have divided copyright arrangements into two areas corresponding to data – texts, transcripts, databases, videos, images, artworks, and so forth – and digital tools – software, fonts, and so forth.

The standard practice of THL is that copyright remains with the creator of objects (whether private or institutional), or owner of the intellectual/artistic content documented in objects, and THL only retains a non-exclusive and permanent right to display these materials, as well as rights to any work THL staff contributed unless otherwise specified. Thus a musician is free to sell or post on other Web sites recordings of music, as are photographers with their own pictures. However the entire THL web site devoted to those images or music, including value added work by THL staff and other resources from other creators, cannot be used as such in other contexts without specific written permission from THL. Of course in some cases THL itself may have created the objects through staff on funded work, and there is no owner of the content documented by these objects, in which case THL holds the copyright. Authors are not, however, allowed to publish outside of THL additional material drawn from THL that they have not authored, without explicit permission from that material's author(s), nor allowed to repost and/or sell the specific arrangements of the materials within THL if any THL staff time contributed to their creation without written permission from THL.

In addition, owners/creators of contributed objects may specify the limitations/rights they grant the public in the reuse of these object. We are fashioning three distinct types of THL Copyrights as specified below, while owners can also request alternative copyright specifications. Each object in THL will specify which copyright arrangement pertains, and, whenever possible, be directly linked to the description of that copyright. The default copyright is that the public is free to reuse THL material as long as the authorship and original publication in THL is clearly and prominently mentioned; however more restrictive arrangements can be applied selectively as well, all the way down to limiting users to view only.

Collaborators thus must specify which copyright applies to the materials, for which there should be space in the metadata for each repository. We are currently working on finalizing the format and process by which credits appears at the top of each page, or, as relevant, in clear display with each object (an individual image, etc.) in an automated fashion drawn straight from that object's metadata. For essays, this entails the author's name hyperlinekd to an email address when available, his/her institutional affiliation if relevant, the date(s) of publication and revision(s), and specification of relevant copyright agreement.

Data Copyrights

For data, we offer four standard copyright arrangements as well as the ability for contributors to specify specialized licenses. The four are listed here in order of increasing restrictiveness:

THL Open Content License (OPL). If not otherwise specified, all data within THL is protected at a minimum by the OpenContent License (OPL), which we believe is an excellent approach to content not already controlled by publishers for the encouragement of scholarly collaboration and innovation. OpenContent is freely available for modification, use, and redistribution under a license similar to those used by the Open Source/Free Software community. In plain English, the license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on OpenContent, that the resultant work will be made available as OpenContent as well.

THL Public License for Digital Texts. This is our standard academic license. It provides for free access to the material, but prohibits its use for commercial purposes without written consent. Please see the full license for details. Users are allowed to republish or use these materials in print, digital or Web contexts as long as the use is accompanied by a clear and prominent citation of the author/creator, its THL ID number, and specification that the materials were drawn from THL along with THL's URL ( Example:

However, the materials cannot be reused in a commercial context beyond standard "fair use" laws without written permission. This copyright applies in THL if no other copyright is specifically mentioned.

THL Personal Use License. This is identical to the Open Content License, except that the data can be downloaded and reproduced only for personal uses. It cannot be cited, reproduced, or disseminated via media in any public contexts. This might be useful whenever someone is concerned about public use, such as for the provisional release of draft works and so forth. Thus, all THL resources marked as “THL Draft Publication” fall under this license.

THL View Only License. This license completely restricts the reproduction or use of the data except for viewing over the Web within THL. This may be used, for example, when a professional photographer wants to maintain her ability to sell images commercially while still allowing them to be viewed in THL.

Specialized THL Copyright. This allows creators to specify their own particular copyright agreements.

Digital Tools Copyrights

THL encourages all developers to embrace the free software and open source movement. THL utilizes to archive open source code. These repositories enable projects to reap the benefits of a pre-existing and well-understood (by programmers) web-based system for the collaborative development of software projects. Currently, judgment as to whether or not a license is open source comes from the Open Source Initiative at At present, their list of approved licenses does not include the Open Public License (OPL) upon which the THL Open Community License is based, but we expect that to change.

Provided for unrestricted use by the external link: Tibetan and Himalayan Library`