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The Venus Fly Trap: The Lure and Pitfalls of Digitizing Moving Image Collections

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posted on 17.03.2015, 00:00 authored by Sonia Yaco
The potential for tapping into the popularity of web video content has increased repository interest in digitizing film collections. The lure of instant access to digital content can attract the attention of donors and patrons. However, film digitization projects face potential pitfalls such as complicated rights issues, high costs due to the need for specialized handling procedures and labor intensive cataloging. The lack of clear preservation format standards for video content creates a preservation risk. A project at Old Dominion University to digitize a collection of five thousand 16mm newsreel films dated 1940-1980 will be used to discuss these issues. The collection contains some 35,000 individual stories that were shown on WTAR-TV in Norfolk Virginia and created by local and national vendors, some of which are defunct. Because of the difficulty of determining ownership of the physical collection and its intellectual property rights, the films remained unused in a university storeroom for 10 years. Publicity about writing a grant to digitize the collection has brought requests from local public school systems and libraries to use the collection in their own digital content delivery systems. These partnerships could substantially broaden use of the collection but raise intellectual property issues. Strategies to avoid these pitfalls are discussed.

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Society of American Archivists

Issue date

01/06/2014

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