Managing Copyright in Digital Collections: A Focus on Creative Commons Licences


  • Caroline Korbel


Creative Commons, digital rights management, DRM, technological protection measures, TPM, digital collections, public institutions, libraries, educational institutions


Digital collections in public institutions can benefit from Creative Commons licenses, as they allow the responsible sharing and use of information online by faculty, students, researchers, and the public at large. This essay outlines the proper management of Creative Commons licenses in the following order: first, the current state of copyright in Canada; second, how the Creative Commons functions and its relation to free culture and Open Access; third, Creative Commons for public institution collections, and not just as a holding body, but as a repository; fourth, tools for managing Creative Commons licences online, including digital rights management (DRM) and technological protection measures (TPMs); and fifth, future impacts of the Creative Commons on digital collections. Creative Commons licences offer libraries that opportunity to expand their patronage and explore broader uses of their collections.

Author Biography

Caroline Korbel

Caroline Korbel is from Calgary, AB. She received her BA in English with a Minor in Art History from Mount Royal University. After graduation, she taught English as a second language in Europe, and worked as a technical writer. Currently, Caroline is currently completing her Masters of Library and Information Studies at Dalhousie and is an intern at the W. K. Kellogg Health Sciences Library. She has a keen interest in copyright law and the Creative Commons.


Copyright Act, RSC, 1985, c C-42.

Creative Commons. (n.d.). Describing copyright in RDF: Creative Commons Rights Expression Language. Retrieved from

Creative Commons. (2008, May 1). ccREL: The Creative Commons Rights Expression Language. W3C. Retrieved from

Creative Commons. (2017a). CC0. Retrieved from

Creative Commons. (2017b, November 1). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from

Creative Commons. (2017c). Licensing considerations. Retrieved from:

Creative Commons. (2017d). Licensing types. Retrieved from:

Creative Commons. (2017e). Public Domain Mark. Retrieved from

Gulley, N. (2013). Creative Commons: Challenges and solutions for researchers: A publisher‘s perspective of copyright in an open access environment. Insights: The UKSG Journal, 26(2), 168-173. Retrieved from

Harris, L.E. (2014). Canadian copyright law (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Jordan, M. (2006). Chapter 3: Copyright and digital library collection. In Putting content online: A practical guide for libraries (37-51). Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing.

Lavoie, B. (2000, January/February). Meeting the challenges of digital preservation: The OAIS reference model. OCLC Newsletter, 243, 26-30. Retrieved from

Lipinski, T. A. (2013). The librarian's legal companion for licensing information resources and services. Chicago: American Library Association.

Mewhort, K. (2012, June 1). Creative Commons licenses: Options for Canadian open data providers. Ottawa, ON: Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, University of Ottawa. Retrieved from the Canadian Electronic Library.

Murray, L.J., & Trosow, S.E. (2013). Canadian copyright: A citizen‘s guide (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: Between the Lines.

National Information Standards Organization (NISO). (2007, December). A framework of guidance for building good digital collections (3rd ed.). Baltimore, MD: National Information Standards Organization (NISO). Retrieved from

Sabharwal, A. (2015). Digital curation in the digital humanities: Preserving and promoting archival and special collections. Elsevier Science. Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.

Scassa, T. (2005). Interest in the balance. Michael Geist (Ed.), In The public interest: The future of Canadian copyright law (pp. 41-65). Toronto, ON: Irwin Law. Retrieved from

UNESCO Maaya Network. (2012). Net.Lang: Towards the multilingual cyberspace. L. Vannini & H. Le Crosnier (Eds.). Caen, France: C&F éditions. Retrieved from

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). (2016). Understanding copyright and related rights. Geneva: World Intellectual Property Organization. Retrieved from