Funded PhD studentship on ‘Mass digitization, cultural heritage and the law’

Closing date: 1 May 2015

Project summary

Digitization of libraries, archives and museum collections is progressing rapidly and has opened up new possibilities of accessing, using and re-using the knowledge embodied in cultural heritage. However, digitization both challenges and is challenged by the current legal framework in many respects. One the one hand, digitization of recent cultural heritage may be subject to real or potential copyright norms. While legislative initiatives on “orphan works” have been put in place at EU and national level, clearing rights remains an overly costly and time-consuming activity for institutional users. On the other hand, digitization projects carried out on a massive scale create the conditions for the rise of proprietary entitlements over cultural heritage. These entitlements may result in new, and not readily transparent, monopolies on culture and knowledge, which may stifle future creativity, research and innovation in unpredictable ways.

This PhD research is expected to bring in-depth analysis and fresh insights to the ongoing debate on the legal and regulatory aspects of mass-digitization. The research proposal should address one of more of the following topics, either/both from a legal-theoretical or/and a practical, on-the-field perspective:

  • Strategies for copyright clearance, licensing and rights management in cultural heritage institutions;
  • Privacy and data protection issues in the digitization of unpublished archival material;
  • Regulation of use and re-use of digitized cultural heritage;
  • Impact of digitization on access to knowledge and copyright public domain;
  • Legal and policy implications of mass-digitization models: centralized vs. distributed, publicly funded vs public-private partnership, etc.;
  • Competition law and new forms of data monopolies on cultural heritage.

As part of the PhD programme, the student will collaborate with Professor Maurizio Borghi in a research project on “Enhancing access to 20th Century cultural heritage through Distributed Orphan Works clearance”. Specifically, the selected student will assist a team of academics in designing and testing a system of crowd-sourced copyright clearance, in partnership with major European cultural heritage institutions and under the auspices of a leading multinational corporation.

The Studentship is for 3 years and is expected to begin in September 2015.

>> Download the full project description here.

Supervisory team

Lead supervisor is Professor Maurizio Borghi (CIPPM).

The supervisory team will also include Professor Hugh Chignell (Faculty of Media and Communications), Dr Dinusha Mendis (CIPPM) and Dr Marcella Favale (CIPPM).

What does the funded studentship include?

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £14,000 per annum, to cover their living expenses and have their fees waived for 36 months. In addition, research costs, including field work and conference attendance, will be met.

The funded studentship is open to both UK/EU and International students.

Eligibility criteria

Candidates for funded PhD studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years.

All candidates must satisfy the University’s minimum doctoral entry criteria for studentships of an honours degree at Upper Second Class (2.1) and/or an appropriate Masters degree. An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (or equivalent) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, Bournemouth Univeristy will look closely at the qualities, skills and background of each candidate and what they can bring to the research project in order to ensure successful and timely completion.

How to apply

Please complete the following application form BU Research Degree Application 2015 (Word 296 kb) and submit it via email to the Research Administrator for Research Degrees Admissions:

Suzy Kempinski – email:

Please note incomplete applications will not be considered so please make sure you complete the form in full.

Further details about Research Degree Programmes available at BU and general information about being a PhD Researcher at BU can be found on the Graduate School website.

The closing date for this application is 1 May 2015.