Many organizations already have solid processes in place for the legal management of analogue content which can be translated into the digital realm. However additional thought will need to be given to areas specific to digital content.

Context is key and for the type of service that we are, there is a level at which it is appropriate for us as archivists to use our judgement as informed by our archival education and professional experience …but then there is a further level at which it is completely appropriate for us to look outside the immediate team for guidance. That guidance exists and is accessible and ultimately forms part of our organization.” - Laura Giles, University of Hull


  • Understand existing processes that are in place within your organization and consider whether they are applicable for digital content.

  • Consider who within your organization can help you. Cross team collaboration with legal, information governance and IT security teams may be helpful. It is not feasible for digital archivists to be experts in everything, but it is important to be able to access appropriate advice when you need it.

  • Review the existing agreements that you have with donors and depositors.

  • Ensure the right questions are asked when collecting new digital content.

  • Make use of licences (such as Creative Commons) and ensure end-users understand what they can and cannot do with the content.

  • Make sure you know where relevant documentation is stored, and ensure it can be effectively maintained and retrieved - a legal agreement hidden in an email thread is not going to be very helpful going forward!

  • You may be able to amend template donor and depositor agreements provided by other organizations (see below).

  • Taking the time to gradually build trusted relationships is often key for an archive working with indigenous or other community groups. DPC RAM places the establishment of “Trusted and collaborative relationships” at the Optimized level for this very reason.

  • Be respectful of any material that has cultural restrictions (e.g. only technicians of the appropriate gender should be involved in handling or processing). Consider cultural competency training for staff.

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