Press release

Farrer & Co advises the British Library on its newspaper archive digitisation project

Date posted : 01/05/2010

Farrer & Co advised the British Library on its partnership with brightsolid online technology, owned by DC Thomson, for the digitisation of up to 40m pages of the Library's newspaper archive. 

The contract was procured using the new Competitive Dialogue procedure and was announced yesterday by Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, at the Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar entitled Innovation and Leadership in the Public Sector.

The British Library holds around 750 million paper pages and 370,000 reels of microfilm in its various repositories.  The archive is of newspaper, magazine, journal, serial, periodical and other content dating back to the 16th century, much of it held by virtue of legal deposit legislation.  Legal deposit helps to ensure that the nation's published output is collected systematically in order to preserve the material and make it available for future use.  The British Library aims to make 80% of its "reader requests" for newspaper materials available by means of digital surrogates by 2017.

The digitisation project with brightsolid represents a significant step towards achieving that objective.

I am delighted to announce the British Library’s partnership with brightsolid to embark upon the most significant programme of newspaper digitisation this country has ever seen,” said Dame Lynne Brindley.  “Mass digitisation unlocks the riches of our newspaper collections by making them available online to users across the UK and around the world; by making these pages fully searchable we will transform a research process which previously relied on scrolling through page after page of microfilm or print.”

Peter Wienand, Head of the IP & Commercial Team at Farrer & Co, and Paul Jones, a Senior Associate in the same Team, advised the Library on all of the legal aspects of the project from the outset of the procurement process through to completion. 

Peter said "we are proud to have been involved in this project and delighted to be afforded the opportunity to work so closely with the Library's project team – something that the competitive dialogue procedure and the deal as a whole really required.  It was a complex project on many different levels, involving a diversity of legal issues both in terms of the procurement process itself and the contract that was awarded". 

He added, "a project of this scale requires particular project management skills and involves input from many different experts.  With our breadth of expertise and, in this case, significant experience of both the cultural and media sectors, Farrers is perfectly placed to undertake such multi-faceted, complex projects".


For more information contact Laura Boyle in Marketing, or Peter Wienand or Paul Jones in the IP & Commercial Team, on 020 3375 7000, or at

Notes to editors:

  1. The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The British Library's collections include 150 million items from every era of written human history beginning with Chinese oracle bones dating from 300 BC, right up to the latest e-journals.
  2. The British Library’s press release can be found here: British Library announcement.
  3. brightsolid was established in 1995 as Scotland Online and is an independent provider of IT business services to large public and private sector organisations.  brightsolid’s press release can be found here:brightsolid announcement.
  4. brightsolid online technology were represented by Thorntons, a law firm with offices located in Dundee, Arbroath, Forfar, Perth and Edinburgh.
  5. Farrer & Co was the first law firm to establish a dedicated Museums & Galleries group and has extensive insight into the issues affecting this sector.  Our advice to museums and galleries covers public, charity, intellectual property, employment and commercial law. We advise a broad range of clients, from many of the largest national and international institutions to smaller organisations and one-off special touring events, and are extremely sensitive to the special requirements of not-for-profit organisations.  Farrer & Co also have a leading Media & Entertainment group, offering advice inB2B & B2C publishing and new media, book publishing, TV, radio, film and tv production & finance, newspapers and information/ data publishing.