Legal tools for digital humanities research: Processing research data in compliance with European copyright and data privacy law

Webinar with Vanessa Hannesschläger

Vanessa Hannesschläger is a digital humanist with a focus on modern Austrian literature. She teaches at the University of Vienna and is a postdoc in the digital edition project "Peter Handke - notebooks" at the German Literature Archive Marbach. She is co-chair of the DARIAH working group ELDAH (Ethics and Legality in Digital Arts and Humanities) and vice-chair of the CLARIN Legal and Ethical Issues Committee (CLIC). In addition, she is involved in the Open Science Network Austria (OANA), where she focuses on legal frameworks for research data.

Accelerated by the pandemic, the transformation of science and research methods into digital approaches is gaining momentum. This is especially true in the humanities, where the digital transformation has been gaining ground since the turn of the century. With the Digital Humanities (DH), a new research discipline has emerged that both requires and develops new types of infrastructures for researchers: While the core humanities infrastructure of the 20th century was the library, the 21st century calls for a less haptic, yet equally reliable scholarship support system.

The European Union has understood this situation and reacted with the development of the concept of European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs). Two of the EU funded ERICs are dedicated to the support of DH researchers. The European Research Infrastructure for Language Resources and Technology (CLARIN) focuses on supporting linguistic and language research, while the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH) has a cross-disciplinary approach.

But the continuous amplification of European integration does not only affect research, it affects our society as a whole. The rules that we jointly live by in the EU - the European legislation - continue to develop and affect us more and more in our everyday lives. One example well known by all internet users are the cookie information pop-ups asking for our consent to the data processing by websites. This is a result of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a European law to protect its citizens’ right to privacy. Another controversially discussed piece of European legislation is the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. This directive is the EU’s reaction to the challenges of the digital age for the protection of intellectual property.

The protection of data privacy and intellectual property are two fields that also heavily affect researchers in the humanities and beyond. It is thus not surprising that both aforementioned ERICs have founded their own committees to deal with the legal framework of research, both of which focus on these two legal fields. The CLARIN Legal and Ethical Issues Committee (CLIC) has published a number of whitepapers on copyright, licensing, and data privacy to support scholars in legally conducting their research. The DARIAH working group “Ethics and Legality in Digital Arts and Humanities” (ELDAH) offers workshops and provides training material on these topics to help educate researchers on legal aspects relevant to their work.

But the support provided does not end there. In this talk, two legal tools developed by the mentioned committees will be introduced. The CLARIN Public License Selector is a tool that supports its users in choosing an appropriate public license for their work. It enables scholars to share their findings in the most open manner possible in compliance with copyright law. The DARIAH ELDAH Consent Form Wizard provides researchers with consent form templates by the help of which the consent of data subjects to the processing of their data for research purposes can be collected.

These tools enable students, scholars, and other research institution staff in the field of humanities and beyond to comply with European legislation when furthering our joint knowledge about culture and thought. In this talk, the legal conditions that the tools answer too will be outlined and a hands on demonstration of how to use them will be given.

CLARIN Public License Selector:
DARIAH ELDAH Consent Form Wizard:
CLARIN CLIC Legal Information Platform:
DARIAH ELDAH Website (information on activities and training material):

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