In the age of digital information technology and the constant availability of information through the Internet, it is not only important to have democratic access to knowledge, but also essential to consider the potential that lies in the critical production and expansion of knowledge.

Of particular interest and concern to cultural heritage institutions and Humanities scholars are issues of copyright on, provision of and access to digitized material. There is a recognizable political drive in the European Union to facilitate free and public access to cultural heritage and research data in general hosted at publicly funded institutions. However, the lack of legal harmonization and the diverse and often unclear national legislations on the use and provision of resources by public cultural heritage or research and education institutions has been prohibiting a much broader engagement.

DARIAH-EU promotes open access of methods, data and tools. But it also stands for a responsible conduct. As an infrastructure for Arts and Humanities researchers it will not be able to solve all issues arising in the quickly progressing domain of digital research. But with its new ethics and legal strategy it will contribute generally and especially wherever it concerns researchers from communities connected to DARIAH. This will lead to better access to tools and data for researchers as well as to guidelines and orientation for the conduct of their research. Policy makers will equally profit from the outputs of the working group as they will be facilitated with background information on issues related to the working group’s topic.

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