We are excited to announce that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded nearly $50,000 through its Digital Humanities Advancement Grant program to UC Berkeley Library and Internet Archive to study legal and ethical issues in cross-border text data mining research. NEH funding for the project, entitled Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining – Cross Border (LLTDM-X), will support research and analysis that addresses law and policy issues faced by U.S. digital humanities practitioners whose text data mining research and practice intersects with foreign-held or licensed content, or involves international research collaborations. LLTDM-X builds upon Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining Institute (Building LLTDM), previously funded by NEH. UC Berkeley Library directed Building LLTDM, bringing together expert faculty from across the country to train 32 digital humanities researchers on how to navigate law, policy, ethics, and risk within text data mining projects (results and impacts are summarized in the white paper here.)
Why is LLTDM-X needed?
Text data mining, or TDM, is an increasingly essential and widespread research approach. TDM relies on automated techniques and algorithms to extract revelatory information from large sets of unstructured or thinly-structured digital content. These methodologies allow scholars to identify and analyze critical social, scientific, and literary patterns, trends, and relationships across volumes of data that would otherwise be impossible to sift through. While TDM methodologies offer great potential, they also present scholars with nettlesome law and policy challenges that can prevent them from understanding how to move forward with their research. Building LLTDM trained TDM researchers and professionals on essential principles of licensing, privacy law, as well as ethics and other legal literacies —thereby helping them move forward with impactful digital humanities research. Further, digital humanities research in particular is marked by collaboration across institutions and geographical boundaries. Yet, U.S. practitioners encounter increasingly complex cross-border problems and must accordingly consider how they work with internationally-held materials and international collaborators.
How will LLTDM-X help?
Our long-term goal is to design instructional materials and institutes to support digital humanities TDM scholars facing cross-border issues. Through a series of virtual roundtable discussions, and accompanying legal research and analyses, LLTDM-X will surface these cross-border issues and begin to distill preliminary guidance to help scholars in navigating them. After the roundtables, we will work with the law and ethics experts to create instructive case studies that reflect the types of cross-border TDM issues practitioners encountered. Case studies, guidance, and recommendations will be widely-disseminated via an open access report to be published at the completion of the project. And most importantly, these resources will be used to inform our future educational offerings.
The LLTDM-X team is eager to get started. The project is co-directed by Thomas Padilla, Deputy Director, Archiving and Data Services at Internet Archive and Rachael Samberg, who leads UC Berkeley Library’s Office of Scholarly Communication Services. Stacy Reardon, Literatures and Digital Humanities Librarian, and Timothy Vollmer, Scholarly Communication and Copyright Librarian, both at UC Berkeley Library, round out the team.
We would like to thank NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities again for funding this important work. The full press release is available at UC Berkeley Library’s website. We invite you to contact us with any questions.