I thought a couple of recent posts on digital repositories and impediments to such projects, including author's rights and what I call Subjects' rights would be of interest. The first one, Alumnus Sues Cornell Over Article Newly Surfaced in Digital Archive, pits a bad-boy university student-cum lawyer against a library digitizing historical university material. I'm not sure the Subject in this case has a leg to stand on, but then it is the U.S. legal system :-( I find it hard to imagine that anyone could win a suit to have an article written about them, and not proven to be in error, wiped from the exitence. I can't even see it if the original article was slanderous since contemplating the next logical step, burning every print copy still around, is ludicrous in the extreme. If we wouldn't consider that, why would we do the same for the digital version?
The second one is from Wales, Writers' digital row with library and relates to an effort by the National Library of Wales to digitize Welsh periodicals and magazines from the 20th century. The project is pitting writer against writer, as some are happy to see a facsimile of their writings available, and others want compensation for it being made available in another form. This one is a little trickier, as it gets at the Tasini-style issue with respect to writers not being compensated by companies making money off their material in a new (often web-based) environment. Having said that, if the National Library of Wales was making millions the author's might have an argument. Or if an author was still making money from a published work, then this could be a infringement of their economic rights. In this case, it is the National Library making material freely available to the people of Wales and elsewhere, so there is no potential revenue loss. In fact, like many other cases like this, making the authors works available digitally will probably result in some getting new publication deals for works rediscovered. The authors serve to benefit significantly from such increased awareness. Maybe the Library could link the service to a print on demand service where those that want to read the work in print could order the item and all profits would go to the author, or their estate, or charity. Why not help the legacy live on rather than have it die in a moldy basement somewhere?