Archives NZ may find itself deciding when and how the public can enforce their fair use rights and circumvent digital rights management (DRM) technologies under new copyright legislation now before Parliament.
Evelyn Wareham, Archives NZ's manager of government record-keeping, says Archives has not specifically prepared for demands under Section 226E of the Copyright (Technology and Performers' Rights) Bill.
That section allows users to circumvent technological protection devices for permitted acts such as the private study of a document through seeking the advice of an "expert". Archivists are specifically mentioned as one category of expert that could assist in this way.
However, Wareham points out, ICT specialists are also approved for this function.
"Such an expert could, for example, be brought in from an organization's technology support team, from another organization or contracted from the computer industry," she says.
Wareham acknowledges, however, that the prospect of such a duty is "an interesting question" and she will bring it to the attention of Archives' working party on TC/DRM.
Archives has been charged with responsibility for digital rights management and Trusted Computing within government, a responsibility divested from the State Services Commission.