Storing Content in the Cloud: Copyright Law Issues

Copyright + Storing Content in the Cloud

Are you storing content in the cloud? What, if any, copyright issues should you be concerned about?

Cloud computing is still in its initial stage but two things are certain. One, the concept of “cloud” is everywhere from storage to application use to shared workspaces. Two, many of us are using cloud computing at home and in the workplace.

What exactly is cloud computing?

The definition and characteristics of cloud computing can be broad or narrow. Cloud computing is a way to have on-demand network access to a shared pool of resources including applications, content, servers, and storage. The cloud can be private, public, open to a specific community, or a hybrid cloud. The legal issues and specifically copyright issues are varied depending on how the cloud is used, who is accessing it, who controls it, and what copyright materials are stored in the cloud. This post raises issues when storing content in the cloud.

Copyright Issues to Consider When Storing Content in the Cloud

  • Do you own the content you are storing in the cloud?

Ownership of physical content or the right to digitize content or create metadata for content does not automatically confer copyright ownership. If you own the copyright in content, then you may reproduce it in the cloud (storage = reproduction of the content in the cloud.)

  • Are you storing content that is licensed to you?

Does the license permit you to store the licensed content in the cloud? Several issues arise (and have been addressed in U.S. court cases) in relation to end users accessing content in a cloud and/or when a cloud is seen as a delivery mechanism rather than as a mere storage mechanism.

  • Are you storing public domain (PD) content in the cloud?

Do you have a consistent definition of PD? Are you certain that the content you are storing is in fact in the PD?

Copyright Procedures + Cloud Storage

  • Develop and implement mechanisms to ensure that you have the rights to store current and future content in the cloud. As with any copyright matter, when you are seeking rights from a copyright owner, clarify that the entity granting rights in fact has the authority to confer those rights to you.
  • Implement safeguards to ensure that access to content in the cloud is restricted and only authorized users are able to access and use it.
  • For third party content, consistently follow a checklist to ensure that the content is in the public domain.  This will help ensure that the you and all in your organization interpret public domain in the same manner.

Monitor, review and update the ways you use cloud storage and your mechanisms to lower possible copyright infringements.


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