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Archive for January, 2024

How can AI help you with your systematic literature review? Reflections from a two-day seminar.

By Christina Daouti, on 29 January 2024

Guest post by Veronica Parisi, Training and Clinical Support team, Cruciform Hub, UCL.

As the debate on the use of AI is becoming more and more widespread, a new blog by Veronica Parisi (UCL) and Anthea Sutton (University of Sheffield) offers some reflections from a two-day seminar centred on the use of AI, with a focus on ChatGPT, for the development of systematic literature reviews. If you, like us, feel new to the topic or are just curious, please head to our post and have a read. We hope you enjoy it and find it informative.

While the post specifically addresses using AI in systematic reviews, broader questions emerge related to ownership/co-authorship, ethical considerations and transparency in the use of AI tools. Copyright is central in these discussions. Future posts here will address copyright as it relates to AI in more detail.

January 2024: new works in the public domain, good tidings for images, and a new year’s resolution

By Christina Daouti, on 11 January 2024

Happy 2024!

Painting of a wheatfield with horses in vibrant colours against a blue sky.

The Wheatfield 1929 Raoul Dufy 1877-1953. Bequeathed by Mrs A.F. Kessler 1983 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03564.

This year is already an interesting one in terms of copyright. As with every year, new creative works (e.g. books, plays, music and paintings) entered the public domain on the 1st of January: copyright protection for these works has expired.

Well-known works that entered the public domain in the UK on the 1st of January include the works of Dylan Thomas, the plays of Eugene O’Neill, the paintings of Raoul Dufy and songs by Hank Williams. A full list of public domain works by country can be found on Wikipedia.

What you need to know about copyright duration and the public domain.

  •   A work can be in the public domain in one country but still protected in other countries. The works of Auden, Tolkien and Picasso are still in copyright in the EU, but have now entered the public domain in most countries in Africa and Asia and in New Zealand. How long copyright lasts and which criteria determine this, varies across countries. Different criteria come into play, including the type of work (e.g. if it is a book, a film or a recording), who created the work, whether the work was published, and the date the work was created. It matters in which jurisdiction the work is being used, as copyright legislation where the work is being used applies. In the UK, copyright for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. Complex rules apply for some works that were unpublished before 1989, meaning that some very old works are still in copyright until 31st December 2039.
  • Copyright may have expired for some works, but other rights such as trademarks may still apply. This is the case with the original Mickey Mouse character who just entered the public domain in the US.
  • Copyright may have expired for an early version of a work (again, think of the original Mickey Mouse character as drawn in 1928) but later versions of the same character, or translations/adaptations of a literary or artistic work, may still be protected.

Images of artistic works in the public domain. If a painting is in the public domain, is a reproduction of the painting (e.g. a digital photo) a copyright work in its own right? Many museums appear to think so: digitised copies of old paintings they hold are often marked as the museum’s copyright and licensed to users for a fee. Despite these works being in the public domain, users – including researchers who wish to include the images in their own works – often need to pay high fees to access and reuse high resolution images of the artworks. Yet, for a work to enjoy copyright protection, it must be deemed ‘original’ in the sense that it is ‘the author’s own intellectual creation’. Criteria used to assess originality are determined and applied differently across countries. There is a need for harmonised criteria and guidelines (see Wallace and Euler, 2020 and Wallace, 2023, for an extensive discussion and position on this issue). A case recently ruled in the UK (THJ v Sheridan, 2023) addressing a copyright dispute over graphic interfaces, has helped raise the originality thershold, clarifying that more than technical skill and labour is necessary to deem a reproduction an original work.

Impressionistic painting of a sunrise: an orange sun, the sea, a boat with two human figures in it. Claude Monet's signature on the bottom left.

Claude Monet: Impression, Sunrise (1872). Oil on canvas, 48 × 63 cm (18.9 × 24.8 in). Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Is this the dawn of a new era? Although legal precedents have pointed in this direction for years, there is hope that cultural heritage organisations will be guided by this latest ruling to review their practices and stop licensing works that are out of copyright (see recent article by Bendor Grosvernor).

New year’s resolutions. There seems to be scope for many cultural heritage organisations to make a new year’s resolution to open up their collections as much as possible. In the meantime, there is one thing you can add to your own list of resolutions: learn more or refresh your knowledge on copyright. Here are some ideas: