Clear skies or cloudy forecast?. Legal challenges in the management and acquisition of audiovisual materials in the cloud

Date11 March 2014
Publication Date11 March 2014
AuthorElaine Goh
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information management & governance
Clear skies or cloudy forecast?
Legal challenges in the management
and acquisition of audiovisual materials
in the cloud
Elaine Goh
School of Library, Archival and Information Studies,
The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Purpose Using the example of audiovisual materials, this paper aims to illustrate how
records-related and archival legislation lags behind advances in technology. As more audiovisual
materials are created on the cloud, questions arise about the applicability of national laws over the
control, ownership, and custody of data and records.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper analyses court cases relati ng to audiovisual
materials in the cloud and archival legislation from three Commonwealth countries: Canada,
Australia, and Singapore – representing North America, the Pacific, and Asia respectively.
Findings – Current records-related and archival legislation does not effectively address the creation,
processing, and preservation of records and data in a cloud environment. The paper identifies several
records-related risks linked to the cloud – risks related to the ownership and custody of data, legal
risks due to transborder data flow, and risks due to differing interpretations on the act of copying and
ownership of audiovisual materials.
Research limitations/implications – The paper identifies the need for records professionals to
pay greater attention to the implications of the emerging cloud environment. There is a need for
further research on how the concept of extraterritoriality and transborder laws can be applied to
develop model laws for the management and preservation of records in the cloud.
Originality/value – The paper identifies record-related risks linked to the cloud by analyzing court
cases and archival legislation. The paper examines maritime law to find useful principles that the
archival field could draw on to mitigate some of these risks.
Keywords Cloud computing,Records management, Risk management,Laws
Paper type Case study
Introduction – the convergence of media and cloud technology
The riot that broke out in December 2013 in Little India, Singapore was an
unprecedented event, as it was the first riot in Singapore after four decades. Members
of the public who were in the vicinity took videos and photographs of the incident and
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Part of the research for this paper was conducted as part of the author’s responsibilities as a
research assistant for the Records in the Cloud Project ( An earlier
version of this paper was presented at the 17th Southeast Asia-Pacific Audio-Visual Archives
Association (SEAPAVVA) Conference: Redefining the Audio-Visual Archives in the Digital Age,
27-31 May 2013 Bangkok, Thailand. The author wishes to thank Ms Irene Lim, Vice-President of
SEAPAVVA and Principal Archivist, Audio-visual Archives from the National Archives of
Singapore for her encouragement and Dr Luciana Duranti and Dr Donald Force for their
comments on the earlier draft of the paper.
Received 2 January 2014
Revised 20 January 2014
Accepted 21 January 2014
Records Management Journal
Vol. 24 No. 1, 2014
pp. 56-73
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/RMJ-01-2014-0001
made them available in the cloud. Some citizen journalists claimed that audiovisual
recordings produced by the public on the scene were circulated in the cloud much
earlier than the multimedia content from mainstream media (Barimen, 2013; The
Independent, 2013). The spontaneous citizen journalism, characterized by very timely
audio visual recordings that are stored, disseminated, and consumed via cloud-based
services, occurred alongside and independent of mainstream coverage. The affordance
of cloud technology has changed the way in which individuals produce audiovisual
materials. Broadcasting and production companies are also turning to the cloud to keep
abreast with emerging technological trends and demands from consumers, who are
keen to access audiovisual materials online through the use of smart phones and tablet
In a general sense, the creation, transmission, and access of multimedia content
in the cloud have become a pervasive global phenomenon, as revealed by a survey
of media usage conducted in 56 countries in 2011. About 74 percent of the survey’s
respondents watched video online and 56 percent of respondents watched video on
their mobile phone at least once a month (The Neilson Company, 2012, p. 4).
Multimedia specialists and market observers thus spoke of the death of television,
particularly since video can be accessed from various platforms, including mobile
devices and tablets (Breitman et al., 2010). Market observers also noted that
consumers have “increasingly [turned a] cold shoulder to TV” and that the “battle
for consumer’s eyeballs” is now being fought on multiple platforms, since people
have a choice of selecting a wide range of devices to view multimedia content
(Broadcast Engineering, 20 12). The increased market penet ration of online
multimedia content has resulted in media convergence, which is defined as the
“digitization of media content, widespread availability of high-speed broadband
connections, and proliferation of Internet enabled devices” (Media Convergence
Review Panel, 2012, p. 2). In other words, media convergence involves an integration
of multimedia data and the telecommunication, computing, and broadcasting
industries (Hudson, 1997; Lee, 2001).
The phenomenon of creating, managing, distributing, and accessing audiovisual
materials in the cloud raises questions regarding the ability of records-related
legislation, which is defined as the legislation that “deals with records or information
generally,” to address issues concerning the ownership and control over data and
records (Suderman et al., 2005, p. 4). This paper aims to highlight some of the legal
challenges in managing records in a cloud environment and to illustrate how
records-related legislation, such as the copyright legislation, lags behind advances in
technology. The paper also discusses issues of acquisition in relation to the cloud
environment through an analysis of archival legislation. Audiovisual materials are
used as an example, because of the complex interplay of potential benefits and risks
that the cloud represents to the audiovisual industry. The potential scalability and
cost-saving benefits of the cloud would be very prominent in the process of creating,
transmitting, and storing large audiovisual materials. However, the cloud also
introduces a number of legal risks with regards to intellectual rights, privacy, and
jurisdiction; which can affect archival concerns such as chain of custody, authenticity,
and trustworthiness.
The paper will draw on three cases from Canada, Australia, and Singapore to
illustrate how the copyright legislation governs the ownership of audiovisual material s
Clear skies or
cloudy forecast?

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