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Rocky Mountain News archives at the Denver Public Library: You still can't see them -- and it'll be a while longer before you can

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On Friday, we let you know that E.W. Scripps had finally sold the intellectual property of the shuttered Rocky Mountain News, although it's not revealing who bought it.

Since then, there's been speculation aplenty about potential buyers, with the most frequently mentioned possibility being Denver gazillionaire and Examiner.com owner Phil Anschutz. A message has been left with Anschutz's spokesman, Jim Monaghan; if and when he responds, we'll update this post.

As for the Rocky's physical and digital archives, they've been left to the Denver Public Library, but no one can see them yet -- and Jim Kroll, manager of the Western history/genealogy department, says it may still be a while before they're available, for a variety of extremely complicated reasons.

According to Kroll, who spoke with Westword twice last week (once before the sale was announced, and a second time afterward), "we have all of the printed archives: the print photographs, the newspaper clippings, some reporters' files, [editor/publisher/president] John Temple's business files. There's a lot of good information in there."

However, Kroll is reluctant to open up access to this material until questions about the digital archives are sorted out.

As Kroll makes clear, the library has been left "all of the published photographs and PDFs of the Rocky going back about five years -- and that's significant, because microfilm is usually done in black and white, so the PDFs would be our only examples of the Rocky in color. And we would also own the content -- the intellectual property of all the articles that were published by the Rocky. In other words, the contents of the website."

What's the rub, then? "There are some third-party agreements that we're still sorting out, and that's what's causing the delay," Kroll says. "It has to do with the vendors the Rocky gave its content to," including ProQuest and NewsBank.

In the future, "if you go onto the library's website and you wanted to look at the Rocky, you would go through a database that would be run by one of these vendors, who sell subscriptions to libraries or other institutions, like law firms across the country who want access," Kroll continues. "When the Rocky was in existence, the content of the paper would be given to NewsBank, for example, and NewsBank in turn sold the material to other vendors across the country, as well as to subscribers. And that's the piece we're working on. We would own the content, so we would become someone they would get permission from to post that content."

Kroll emphasizes that Scripps has been extremely cooperative throughout this process, and he notes that meetings have been taking place on a weekly basis to get everything resolved. At the same time, he's not certain if the sale will get things moving, cause them to move even more slowly, or have no impact whatsoever.

Oh yeah: He doesn't know who bought the Rocky's intellectual property, either. And until he does, the tabloid's archives will likely continue to collect dust of both the literal and figurative kind.

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