CfP Copyright and Humanities Research: A Global Perspective (DH2019 pre-conference workshop)


We invite proposals for contributions to the DH2019 pre-conference workshop “Copyright and Humanities Research: A Global Perspective”, which will take place on July 8, 2019 at the DH2019 conference at Tivoli Vredenburg in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

This workshop is a joint effort of the DARIAH working group ELDAH (Ethics and Legality in Digital Arts and Humanities) and the CLARIN CLIC (CLARIN Legal and Ethical Issues Committee).

Introduction to the topic

Despite the fact that the first copyright acts were written “for the Encouragement of Learning”[1] or “to promote the progress of Science”[2], the research community regards today’s copyright law as a foe, rather than as a friend. In the digital world (where every use of a digital work necessitates its reproduction), copyright has evolved into a framework regulating access and re-use of all sorts of contents. As copyright is within the scope of national legislation, international cooperations to carry out research in a digital environment have to deal with a highly complex legal situations.

Largely based at universities, cultural heritage institutions or other public research institutions, humanities research is usually non-commercial and based on a public mandate for education. Open (and free) access to sources and results of this research gains further importance because most national funding agencies demand open access to research publications and data as a requirement for funding. On the other hand, researchers themselves have a keen interest in defending their own intellectual property rights, in part due to economic concerns but also in terms of academic credit. This conflict of interest is summarized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which sets the premise that “(everyone has) the right freely […] to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”[3], but goes on to say that “everyone has the right to protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he [sic] is the author”[4].

For digital humanities scholars, this axiomatic situation combined with recently developing trends towards open licensing has created an urgent necessity to educate themselves on legal issues and discuss how copyright legislations impact and shape what we (are able to) do; “[t]he rapid worldwide expansion of digital humanities work demands that we begin to deal with the complex tangle of rights around digital humanities knowledge production before others do it for us.”[5] One of the most important reasons for the necessity to deal with copyright issues from the scholars’ perspective is that copyright laws are the framework within which we have to negotiate our research ethics, especially with regards to questions of the possibility of access to our work for all.[6] For this reason, Zafrin et al. began the discussion of copyright issues for DH in a global context with their panel session at the 2017 DH conference in Montréal.

At this year’s DH conference, we would like to build on Zafrin et al.’s work and continue the discussion in the framework of a full-day workshop. We would like to broaden the scope and discuss the topic on a global scale, as the concept of copyright has developed in manifold ways in different areas of the world for historical reasons.[7] The continuation of this discussion is especially important for the digital humanities community because the transcending of national borders is inherent to the nature of digital research.

Call for proposals

Therefore, we invite scholars from all over the globe with expertise in handling copyright issues in the context of digital research to discuss the following questions:

  • What are the specific benefits and pitfalls of the copyright legislation in your country for digital scholarship?
  • Are the existing international copyright-related agreements (Berne Convention, TRIPS agreement) sufficient?
  • What aspects of digital scholarship do current copyright legislations and agreements (in your country and beyond) not cover or even actively hinder?
  • Does the copyright legislation in your country facilitate or hinder the attribution of free licenses or certain types of free licenses in any way (e.g. in the Germanic legislative tradition, authors cannot waive their right to attribution)?
  • What exceptions for research purposes (e.g. data mining exceptions) does the copyright legislation in your country foresee? Are they sufficient?

Contributors can address one or more questions from this non-comprehensive list of issues. Discussion of further aspects is welcome, especially relating to data privacy issues, licensing questions, and new challenges arising from emerging trends towards open science.

We invite proposals for short presentations which will be followed by an extensive plenary discussion. Each presentation session will consist of 3 presentations à 15 minutes and a 30 minute discussion slot.

Please provide a short abstract (300-500 words) outlining the general topic and the legal system you will be speaking about. Contributions by authors from the global south are particularly encouraged.

Abstracts can be submitted in .doc, .docx or .pdf via e-mail to vanessa.hannesschlaeger[at]

Important dates


Deadline for abstract submission: April 30, 2019 May 7, 2019

Notification of acceptance: May 17, 2019

Workshop: July 8, 2019

Workshop organizers

  • Vanessa Hannesschläger, Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Pawel Kamocki, CLARIN-D
  • Walter Scholger, University of Graz

This workshop is a joint effort of the DARIAH working group ELDAH (Ethics and Legality in Digital Arts and Humanities) and the CLARIN CLIC (CLARIN Legal and Ethical Issues Committee).

Review committee



[1] Statute of Anne, 1710.
[2] Constitution of the United States, Art I, 8, 8 (“copyright clause”).
[3] Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Art 27, 1.
[4] Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Art 27, 2.
[5] Zafrin, V., Galina Russell, I., Gil, A., Ray Murray, P. Copyright, Digital Humanities, and Global Geographies of Knowledge. Digital Humanities 2017: Conference Abstracts. McGill University, Montreal (2017).
[6] Faull, K., Jakacki, D., O’Sullivan, J., Earhart, A., Kaufman, M. Access, Ownership, Protection: The Ethics of Digital Scholarship. Digital Humanities 2016: Conference Abstracts. Jagiellonian University & Pedagogical University, Kraków (2016): 66-68.
[7] See Ng, A. “Literary Property and Copyright.” Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property 10/7 (2012): 531–577.

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