We were incredibly saddened to learn recently that our friend and Creative Commons community member Muid Latif had passed away.
Muid was the Project Lead of CC Malaysia and was an extremely talented digital artist and designer who released his work openly. He believed passionately in the ideals of the CC community—openness, access, and collaboration. He was especially interested in how open approaches to creation and distribution could benefit artists (and the world generally).
He was also an awesome dancer (!) and one of the warmest, funniest, and genuinely nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through my work at CC. I know many others feel this same way.
To celebrate Muid’s life and creative spirit, we’d like to share a few of his beautiful works and encourage you to explore his portfolios on Behance and Instagram.
From an urgent COVID-19 response project that monetizes collaborative documents for charitable relief to a hackathon offering developers a chance to learn about open standards in Web Monetization, to an artist exploring ways to generate revenue from her original work, these awardees demonstrate that there is a fierce appetite and enormous talent for exploring new ways – and motivations – to exchange money on the web using open standards.
Creative Commons is proud to work alongside Coil, Mozilla, and Loup on Grant for the Web, which is is working to “fund individuals, projects, and global communities that contribute to a privacy-centric, open, and accessible Web Monetization ecosystem.” We’re especially excited that Grant for the Web is committed to awarding at least 50% of all grant dollars to projects that will be openly licensed.
We’re pleased to announce that Alexis Muscat returns to Creative Commons (CC) as our Legal and Policy Intern this summer. Over the next 10 weeks, Alexis will work closely with our Open Policy Manager, Brigitte Vézina on law and policy research projects that support our mission and community. We can’t wait to get started!
I am entering the third and final year of my law (JD) degree at Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I have always been interested in the idea of storytelling. I have an honours BA in English Literature, and have worked in public relations and communications for a number of years prior to entering law school. My interest in intellectual property law, particularly copyright, comes from a desire to learn about how law and policy influence storytelling, sharing and communication. I love to read, take care of my house plants, watch movies, and hike.
My research this summer will focus on the intersections between traditional cultural expression issues and Creative Commons licenses and tools. I will be looking at the policies and practices of cultural institutions with regard to online access, sharing and use of the traditional cultural expressions in their collections. I will also be considering the concept of the public domain in relation to rights and interests in traditional cultural expressions.
Keep an eye on our blog to stay updated on Alexis’s research outcomes towards the end of July.
Today is International Museum Day and we at Creative Commons (CC) are thrilled to celebrate the institutions that curate, care for, and provide access to the world’s rich diversity of cultures, ideas, and forms of knowledge. This year’s theme, dedicated to the universal values of equality, diversity, and inclusion, is a testament to museums’ ability to act as intercultural bridge-builders and powerful engines of social change.
At CC, we share these values and we’re glad to support museums in nurturing the cultural fabric of societies around the globe. We do that through our work on openGLAM, where we help cultural institutions make the most out of the possibilities offered by CC licenses and tools to share their collections of cultural heritage online as openly as possible. We’re also busy promoting the interests of museums in the copyright law and policy arena. Central to CC’s copyright policy agenda is making sure museums’ concerns and needs are treated on equal footing with those of copyright owners, in a balanced and fair manner. In this blog post, we focus on the importance of copyright limitations and exceptions (L&Es) as the pillars on which museums can rest to fulfill their mission free of any undue legal encumbrances.
Limitations and exceptions (L&Es) to copyright exist to ensure a fair balance between the rights of creators and the rights and legitimate interests of users and the general public. L&Es allow uses without authorization from the copyright owner, most often without payment. In countries of common law tradition, they often take the form of “fair use” or “fair dealing,” and in countries of civil law tradition, L&Es are usually circumscribed and precisely defined in the law.
Museums’ invaluable mission: sharing their collection with the public
Museums collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, educate, and offer spaces for visitors (both on-site and online) to interact and participate in an incredible variety of histories, artifacts, and experiences. They are entrusted with the public interest mission of providing access to knowledge and culture, thereby contributing to economic, social, and cultural development. Together with galleries, libraries, and archives (known collectively as “GLAMs”), many museums strive to take advantage of digital technologies to preserve and provide access to their collections for the benefit of present and future generations. For example, Paris Musées recently released over 100,000 works in the public domain under Creative Commons Zero (CCØ), adding their name to the growing list of GLAMs that recognize the importance of open access to artistic and cultural artifacts. This is especially important to address the risks of loss and degradation presented by global challenges such as climate change.
For museums dedicated to cultural heritage, broadly disseminating online the world’s shared heritage is directly aligned with their public mission. Also key is the sharing with visitors and the general public of information and content—ranging from digital images to information about works, including bibliographical information and metadata.
Copyright should not stand in the way of museums’ basic functions
Alas, for museums on all continents, basic functions like making copies of works under copyright for preservation or making available online are hampered by a jumble of entangled copyright issues. This is especially the case in the digital environment, where legal uncertainty is rife. One troubling gray area is the claiming of rights over slavish reproductions of works. On that point, CC adamantly asserts that digitized public domain works must remain in the public domain. The world over, outdated, and misaligned copyright rules fail to accommodate the legitimate activities of museums, exacerbate inequalities by curtailing efforts of museums to provide access to knowledge and culture, and carve a black hole into our shared digital heritage.
Copyright should be limited where it serves a public interest. Stronger, clearer, and more effective limitations and exceptions are necessary to allow museums to fulfill their mission.
A clear way forward for international law and policy on limitations and exceptions
At the European level, the 2019 Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (CDSM) contains several mandatory L&Es aimed at supporting museums and facilitating the digitization and online sharing of cultural heritage. For example, article 6 provides an exception for the preservation of cultural heritage while article 14 states that faithful copies of works of visual art that are in the public domain must remain in the public domain. CC-sister organization Communia is offering guidelines and assistance in the implementation of the CDSM. The EU Member States have until June 2021 to seize this unprecedented opportunity to recognize and support the pivotal roles of museums in society and write clear E&Ls into their national copyright laws.
Internationally, there is currently no clear international framework providing for mandatory L&Es for the benefit of museums. That means that countries are not obligated to have museum-friendly L&Es in their national copyright law, and many, indeed, don’t. A 2015 WIPO study on copyright L&Es for museums prepared by Dr. Lucie Guibault and Jean-François Canat shows that L&Es vary greatly across jurisdictions. Less than a third of WIPO Member states provide specific L&Es for museums, while two-thirds allow museums to rely on general L&Es and/or licensing solutions. Specific exceptions include reproduction for preservation purposes, use of works in exhibition catalogs, the exhibition of works, use of orphan works; general exceptions comprise use for educational or private purposes. According to WIPO’s 2019 Revised Report on Copyright Practices and Challenges of Museums, E&Ls are not frequently well understood or used due to legal uncertainty.
Hence, it’s essential to create an international treaty that clearly enshrines the rights of museums to conduct their legitimate activities without the burden of having to abide by out-of-touch, impractical, and sometimes straight-out unfair copyright rules. We recently said on this blog that it’s high time to establish an expeditious way forward on L&Es within the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), with a view to safeguarding the interests of museums and GLAMs in general. Building on the adoption of the 2013 Marrakesh Treaty on access to works for visually impaired people, the SCCR should now concentrate on creating clear and mandatory L&Es for GLAMs.
Museums deserve to be celebrated all year for a multitude of reasons, and we’re proud to support the museum sector through our openGLAM and copyright policy efforts. Interested in learning more? Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org!
We’ve got great news for content creators and innovators interested in new ways of doing business online. Grant for the Web—the $100 million initiative by Coil, Creative Commons, and Mozilla (previously discussed here) to fund projects that utilize and build upon the Web Monetization standard—has issued its first public call for proposals.
The Web Monetization ecosystem includes wallets, providers, and tools. Grant for the Web was established to encourage, support, and promote ambitious projects that use and experiment with Web Monetization, and this CFP is a big step towards making the dream of better web business models a reality.
With $100 million to distribute globally over five years, Grant for the Web will seed an online monetization and payment ecosystem to challenge the web’s most urgent issues: loss of privacy, centralization of power, and inequalities in online participation. … No longer can earning revenue online be tied to proprietary platforms, companies that abuse our privacy, and 20th century revenue models. We’re ready to start building what’s next.
There are two award tracks that applicants can submit their projects to: Creative Catalyst (content projects that use Web Monetization) and Foundational Technology (projects that innovate around the tech side of Web Monetization). A particularly exciting aspect of this CFP, as well as the entire Grant for the Web initiative, is that at least 50% of all grant dollars will go towards funding openly licensed projects.
The deadline for applications is Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:00pm (PST). The program team is providing support to the community during the application period. For all the information you’ll need in order to prepare your submission, visit Grant for the Web’s detailed Call for Proposals page.
This week is bittersweet. Bitter because instead of welcoming you to the CC Global Summit in Lisbon, I’m at my home in Toronto wishing we were together. Sweet because we have been given the opportunity to revise the CC Global Summit—to turn this annual, in-person gathering into something uniquely digital that will, hopefully, address the current needs of our community.
In March, after officially canceling the in-person CC Summit, we began this revisioning process by gathering insightful feedback from members of the CC Global Network and working with the Program Committee. Committee members have proven invaluable during this process and we’re grateful for their hard work, vision, and flexibility. Although there are still many things we need to figure out, I’m excited to provide a brief update on what we have so far, and what we’re working on.
Here’s what we know so far
The revisioned version of the CC Summit will be entirely online, free of cost, and held over a few days during September and/or October 2020. Based on feedback from the CC Global Network obtained via a short survey sent out in April, we will try our best to ensure the event features:
Programming in languages other than English
Programming in a variety of time zones
Opportunities to meet in small interactive groups to work on projects and goals together
Some fun surprises!
Here’s what’s coming up
If you’ve already submitted a proposal, don’t worry. We’ll be in touch with you to confirm that you still have the capacity to engage with the CC Global Summit. If yes, we’ll then ask you to tell us what changes you’ll make to your proposal so that it’s more suitable for digital. Check your email for the next steps!
Finally, in June, we’ll launch a new call for proposals to reflect the dynamics of our world today, as well as the changing medium of the CC Global Summit. We’ll ask for proposals that are better suited for a digital environment, as well as encourage proposals that address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the role of open licensing during times of crisis. This is something our team has been working on as part of the Open COVID Pledge. We’ll also welcome proposals that promote CC Global Network-specific issues and projects—we want to ensure this event remains globally-focused.
Thank you again for your support throughout this process. Stay tuned for more updates!
We’re pleased to announce the selection of our mid-year 2020 interns from Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and Outreachy! Both of these programs aim to support students and early career professionals as they venture into open source software development.
Over the next three months, these interns will work with members of the Creative Commons’ team on projects that support our mission and community. We can’t wait to get started!
Meet our interns!
Dhruvi Anand Butti (Outreachy)
Dhruvi will work on converting CC’s websites to our new design system, Vocabulary, starting with CC Open Source. See the new designs here. Dhruvi will be mentored by CC’s Web Developer Hugo Solar and previous GSoC intern Dhruv Bhanushali. You can follow the progress of this project through theGitHub repo and #cc-developers channel on our Slack community.
Ayan Choudhary (GSoC)
Hello, I am Ayan Choudhary, an electrical engineering undergrad at IIT Roorkee. I have been involved with coding quite heavily for the past couple of years which is one of my numerous hobbies. Some of the sectors which really fascinate me include network security, blockchain, and data science. Apart from this I love reading and painting and am quite interested in PC gaming and binge-watching online shows.
Ayan will be working on adding internationalization to CC Search, which means the CC Search interface will be easily translatable and thus, available in multiple languages. Ayan will also work on improving accessibility for all users to CC Search. Ayan will be mentored by CC’s Front End Engineer Breno Ferreira and Open Source Community CoordinatorAri Madian. You can follow the progress of this project through theGitHub repo and #cc-search channel on our Slack community.
K S Srinidhi Krishna (GSoC)
I am Srinidhi Krishna, a computer science undergraduate student from Govt Model Engineering College, in India. My field of interest is in data science and have experience working with data analytics and data quality checking on a small scale. I also have experience in writing automation scripts in Python. I spend my free time watching TV series and movies, and like listening to music. I’m also part of the university cricket team and love swimming.
Srinidhi will work on adding new sources to the CC Catalog, which in turn will make them show up in the CC Catalog API and CC Search. Sources are tracked here. He may also work on some infrastructural improvements to the CC Catalog, as well as add audio sources. Srinidhi will be mentored by CC’s Data Engineer Brent Moran and Director of Engineering Kriti Godey. You can follow the progress of this project through theGitHub repo and #cc-dev-catalog channel on our Slack community.
Mayank Nader (GSoC)
Mayank is a returning GSoC intern from last year and will work on extending the CC Search browser extension to have even more features, including adding related images and image tags, and caching and organizing bookmarks better. Additionally, he will be updating the extension UI to use CC’s design system, Vocabulary, and extending the supported browsers to Microsoft Edge in addition to currently supported Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Mayank will be mentored by CC’s Software Engineer Alden Page and Director of Engineering Kriti Godey. You can follow the progress of this project through theGitHub repo and #cc-dev-browser-extension channel on our Slack community.
Charini Nanayakkara (GSoC)
I am a third-year Ph.D. student from the Australian National University, where my research area of focus is record linkage. I experiment on novel algorithms that can improve the quality of linking records, whereas I extensively use Python and related data analytics libraries for algorithm implementation. Prior to starting my Ph.D. I was employed as a software engineer at the WSO2 Sri Lanka branch for two years where I did open source development in Java. I have a first-class honors BSc degree in Computer Science from the University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) in Sri Lanka. Reading, playing the organ, and exploring Buddhism are few things I like to do in my free time. I recently resumed taking piano lessons after several years and started following a program customized for amateur runners. I am excited to be part of GSoC 2020!
Charini will work on adding new sources and making infrastructural improvements to the CC Catalog alongside Srinidhi. Charini will also be mentored by CC’s Data Engineer Brent Moran and Director of Engineering Kriti Godey. You can follow the progress of this project through theGitHub repo and #cc-dev-catalog channel on our Slack community.
Subham Sahu (GSoC)
I am Subham Sahu, an undergraduate student at IIT Ropar. As an electrical engineering student, I am fortunate to have exposure to domains related to both circuits and programming and developed interests in both. I love problem-solving, and I am familiar with mobile app development in Flutter, and web development in NodeJS and Django. I have worked on many projects which include pipeline enabled RISC V web simulator, a mobile application which automates the filling of bank forms efficiently and a twitter sentiment analysis model using deep learning. I am fond of discussions and love constructive debates on practically every topic.
Subham will be working to add more features to The Linked Commons (previous blog post), including better ways to search for specific data, better metrics, and key takeaways, as well as general improvements to the user experience and code. Subham will be mentored by CC’s Data Engineer Brent Moran and previous GSoC intern Maria Belen Guaranda. You can follow the progress of this project through theGitHub repo and #cc-dev-cc-catalog-viz channel on our Slack community.
Krystle Salazar (Outreachy)
I am Krystle Salazar, a computer scientist and software developer from Venezuela. Mostly focused on web technologies, data modeling, and more recently on open-source software. I consider myself a curious person and avid learner, who wants to make a positive impact in the world. Apart from code, I like to watch anime, reading, chocolate, and dogs. I am happy to have this opportunity to work with CC and aim to share my learning of the process.
Krystle will work on modernizing CC’s Legal Database with a new backend and integrating CC’s design system, Vocabulary, on the frontend. This will improve workflow and user experience for both CC’s internal team and for the public. Krystle will be mentored by CC’s Director of Engineering Kriti Godey and Core Systems Manager Timid Robot Zehta. You can follow the progress of this project through theGitHub repo and #cc-dev-legal-database channel on our Slack community.
The CC Certificate aims to increase our global community’s expertise in open licensing and awareness of our shared, digital commons. Our first goal is to train at least one person interested in open licensing in every country and territory, around the world. So far, we have CC Certificate graduates from 44 countries and counting!
One way to bring the CC Certificate to more people is through the Certificate scholarship program, which launched with 18 scholarships in 2019. I’m pleased to announce we’ve awarded 28 scholarships in 2020 to our CC Global Network members who are passionate about developing their open licensing expertise and contributing to our vibrant global community.
While we prioritize offering scholarships to CC Global Network members, anyone is welcome to join the network (it’s free).
This year, scholarship recipients hail from 25 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Chile, Finland, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Rwanda, Slovenia, South Africa, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Please welcome the following CC Certificate scholarship recipients!
Algeria: Hanae Lrhoul
Argentina: Maximiliano Marzetti
Australia: Prodip Roy
Bangladesh: Mohammed Galib Hasan
Benin: Adebayo Fawaz Ludovic Tairou
Brazil: Chico Venancio
Chile: Werner Westermann
Finland: Susanna Ånäs
Ghana: Felix Nartey
India: Omshivaprakash Hodigere Lakshmeshvaradavaru
India: Savithri Singh
Indonesia: Dian Eka Indriani
Kenya: Hildah Nyakwaka
Mexico: Ken Bauer
Nepal: Kshitiz Khanal
Netherlands: Sebastiaan ter Burg
Nigeria: Felix Olakulehin
Portugal: Teresa Cardoso
Rwanda: Boris Bahire Kabeja
Slovenia: Maja Bogataj Jančič
South Africa: Derek Moore
South Africa: Kathryn Kure
South Africa: Wynand van der Walt
Taiwan: Rock Hung
Tanzania: Hamis Juma
Tunisia: Sami Mlouhi
Uruguay: Ileana Silva
Venezuela: Jose Luis Mendoza
To learn more about these scholarship recipients or to register for an upcoming course, visit the CC Certificate website!
Thousands of strangers working together, almost entirely online, to effectively solve an urgent, global challenge is remarkable—and it’s happening, right now. Recently, we published a post titled, “Open-Source Medical Hardware: What You Should Know and What You Can Do” examining the collaborative efforts by volunteer groups, universities, and research centers to solve the medical supply shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic through open-source medical hardware. While researching that story, we stumbled on the work of Just One Giant Lab (JOGL).
JOGL is a research and innovation laboratory based in Paris, France that operates as an open and distributed mobilization platform for collaborative task solving. When the pandemic started, JOGL’s team recognized that their knowledge of community organizing and their open platform could help create and support many open-source projects. In response, they launched the OpenCovid19 Initiative, which now includes over 4000 healthcare workers, engineers, designers, scientists, technologists, and everyday citizens. The vibrant, global community exchanges thousands of daily messages on hundreds of projects they hope will help save lives; from an open-source syringe to an algorithm that calculates the probability of infection.
To get a better understanding of JOGL’s mission, its community, and open source work, we reached out to Co-Founder and CTO Leo Blondel via email.
Our interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Q: What’s Just One Giant Lab’s (JOGL) mission?
Blondel: Our mission from the beginning has been to become the first full-fledged virtual laboratory where users can collaborate and innovate in order to solve problems and answer research questions—we want to be a central hub for open science and innovation. On the social side, we aim to help humanity fix its most urgent and important problems using open science, responsible innovation, and continuous learning. To that end, we partner with academic labs, companies, startups, foundations, NGOs, and public services to create participatory research programs for understanding and solving health, environmental, social, and humanitarian issues. On the technical side, we create and utilize a series of open-source applications to support the research and innovation activities generated by our users. To this aim, we have created a platform where users can launch their projects and collaborate openly with others to solve pressing needs.
Q: What are some initiatives JOGL is working on in regards to the medical supply shortage?
Blondel: Currently, multiple initiatives are being developed. We quickly identified that many factories, maker spaces, and citizens had a production capacity that could be put to use. Due to the beauty of open-source projects, the number of available prototypes was staggering—over 70 designs for open masks, for example. Therefore a project was created to review, test, and select the designs that were the most relevant, safe, compliant, and easily manufactured by a panel of medical experts. Armed with this idea, we created a partnership with the Paris Hospital Network (APHP) to organize a validation challenge and identified four essential needs: face masks and face shields, syringe pumps, consumables for intubation, and ventilators. So far, the Open-Source Syringe Pump project has been selected, and a team composed of medical doctors, engineers, and manufacturers are working to get the device refined with a foolproof user experience (UX) design and fail proof delivery system. Finally, a long-running open-source respirator project is currently in the testing phase to prove that the design is applicable in a medical setting.
Q: How is JOGL working across its entire community to help fill the medical supply shortage?
Blondel: JOGL acts as the central hub that connects citizens, amateurs, medical doctors, researchers, and policymakers. By creating a central repository of knowledge where people can not only document, but also discuss, and collaborate on open research and innovation we accelerate what would normally require established professional networks. An example is the aforementioned Open-Source Syringe Pump project, where JOGL connected the knowhow of the medical doctors at the Paris Hospital Network to engineers in the United States and manufacturers in China. JOGL not only provides the technical tools necessary for this to happen, but also the coordination team necessary to establish relationships between humans and ideas.
We are also creating and implementing a new open governance scheme so that communities can self organize more easily. For this, we are working with wonderful community members who specialize in management, sociocracy, holacracy, and other new and exciting forms of open governance. We hope that this beta test will help us establish new and clear guidelines and models to create better UX and user flows in order to fast track similar collaborations in the future.
Q: Have you been surprised at the willingness of your community to volunteer their time and resources to help with these initiatives?
Blondel: I was not surprised. From a historical perspective, times of crisis have more often than not created enormous solidarity movements. Most recently, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico saw the regeneration of community links long lost. People flying back to help and thousands of people rebuilding infrastructure for free—a great read on this would be Naomi Klein’s The Battle For Paradise. As an evolutionary biologist, I think that because we have evolved to be a social species and have empathy, it’s hard for us to stand inactive when we see misery. So I wasn’t surprised that people organized to help. Open communities are the foundational structure of JOGL, and we have always believed in their power to change the world. What did surprise us was the willingness of large institutions to trust initiatives like ours in a time of crisis and to try to establish partnerships with us to strengthen the community effort. We are now seeing a shift in how large actors are seeing open initiatives and I believe it’s for the best!
Q: What impact do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will have on open source and open science?
Blondel: I think that this pandemic happened at a time where open communities were “ripe.” What I mean by that is for a long time the open world was not very inclusive to the general public. However, thanks to, in part, the citizen science movement, there is general public enthusiasm for open research and innovation. It’s hard to predict the future, but I hope that big institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) will start funding open science initiatives.
However, the open science movement still needs to prove itself to the world. By nature, computer code lends itself to being openly accessible more easily; you really only need a computer to work on open-source coding projects. Science, on the other hand, is much harder because there is a lack of access, particularly in regards to physical access to laboratories and resources. The validation process can also serve as a barrier. Therefore, figuring out how to break down these barriers to scientific resources and increase the production of scientific work that is open access is something we are incentivized to work on right now—and something we will continue to work on for many years to come.
If you have a question regarding CC Licenses and how they apply to open-source hardware designs or other projects, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
Climate change poses serious threats to cultural heritage
Heavy rainfalls, floods, rising sea levels, untamable wildfires, droughts, and other calamities are some of the dire consequences of climate change, possibly one of the greatest challenges of our time. Besides the disastrous impacts on the environment and biodiversity, climate change also poses significant threats to cultural heritage the world over, in both direct and indirect ways.
Because of global warming, cultural monuments and sites, as well as objects hosted in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs), face the very real threat of being irremediably damaged or lost. In 2015, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee acknowledged that “World Heritage properties are increasingly affected by climate change.” Climate change has also been shown to contribute to drastic cuts in public funding for culture as well as to lead to a rise in armed conflicts, with the catastrophic knock-on effects of the destruction of cultural heritage.
As the risk of natural disasters due to climate change increases, many institutions will face a damning reality: when cultural heritage is lost, a part of humanity vanishes.
Of course, climate change is not the only trigger for the loss or destruction of cultural treasures. All too often human error or negligence is to blame for heartrending losses, such as the 2009 collapse of the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne, in which 90% of archival records were buried in the rubble. Thankfully, they were partly rescued later. Another tragic example is the 2018 fire in the National Museum of Brazil, in which 92.5% of its archive of 20 million items went up in flames. As the risk of natural disasters due to climate change increases and as governments shift their funding priorities away from the cultural sector, many institutions will likely face a damning reality: when cultural heritage is lost, a part of humanity vanishes.
Unfortunately, most copyright laws give GLAMs major headaches when it comes to digitizing the works restricted by copyright in their collections for both preservation and online accessibility. Why? Digitization is an act of reproduction, and under copyright law, this act is the prerogative of the copyright owner, unless an exception applies. Unfortunately, exceptions are all too narrow, unclear, and rare. A recent World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) International Conference on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Educational & Research Institutions made evident the unacceptably skewed balance of the copyright system towards the copyright owner to the detriment of those institutions that care for and help interpret, understand, and share cultural heritage.
This is the reason CC signed the open letter prepared by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), among others, calling on WIPO to urgently create an international legal instrument with clear rules allowing the preservation of cultural heritage collections.
Openly sharing collections online with CC’s licenses and tools
Digitized cultural heritage material should be held for preservation purposes but should also be made available online as widely as possible, in order to allow the broadest and most unfettered access to culture. CC is engaged in groundbreaking work in the OpenGLAM space, helping cultural heritage institutions achieve their public interest mission by releasing their content through standard open licenses and tools, as well as offering training on their use, such as through the Creative Commons Certificate.
CC licenses and tools, including CC0, are the easiest and simplest means to communicate to the public what uses can be made of the digital cultural heritage objects and to facilitate wide dissemination of culture. They are becoming the standard for GLAMs that are “opening up” their collections on the internet, helping overcome barriers erected by copyright law and enabling broad reuse.* For material in the public domain, CC offers the PDM, which makes it easy for GLAMs to indicate to users the public domain status of the digital objects made available online.
GLAMs are entrusted by the world’s population with a vast amount of humanity’s memory—digitizing that memory and using the right legal tools can and should be done.
In connection with the launch of the Smithsonian Open Access initiative in February 2020, CC recalled that GLAMs, as repositories of creative works worldwide, are entrusted by the world’s population with a vast amount of humanity’s memory. Therefore, digitizing that memory and using the right legal tools can and should be done. CC has a solid background in supporting the creation, adoption, and implementation of open policies and projects with cultural heritage institutions, including the MET, Europeana, the Tate, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Auckland Museum, the Rijksmuseum, Wikimedia, and the Brooklyn Museum.
We will continue to explore how best to support GLAMs across the world as they open up their collections, helping them navigate the multiple layers of legal and policy issues with the aim of enabling universal access and participation in culture on the broadest terms possible. We will also keep on pushing for copyright policy change to ensure GLAMs can legally and freely preserve the cultural heritage in their collections, notably as a means to confront the risks posed by climate change.
For guidance on implementing an open access policy or using CC’s legal tools including CC0, PDM, and our licenses for the preservation and sharing of cultural heritage, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org—we’re here to help.
*Creative Commons licenses (including CC0) should only be applied to digitized cultural heritage material by or with authorization of the copyright owner(s). Doing so ensures the public that both the underlying work and the digital surrogate (in which the digitizing institution may hold copyright) are free for reuse worldwide. CC licenses should only be applied to works under copyright, not to those whose term of protection has lapsed worldwide. The PDM should only be applied to very old works that are out of copyright and in the public domain worldwide.