The future of opening up GLAMs

512px-Copenhagen_Concert_Hall_by_night
Danmarks Radio Concert Hall

Sharing is Caring
So, I took myself to Copenhagen the other weekend for (among other things) Sharing is Caring; an annual seminar focusing on collaboration and sharing in the cultural heritage sector held at the DR Koncerthuset. You can see the talks here

It exceeded all expectations in terms of detail and expertise. The programme naturally covered copyright on creative works, with lively debate from panels of artists, representatives of rightsholders organisations for visual arts in Denmark, and lawyers promoting open licensing.

Curate not Create
One of the key lessons from the seminar was the idea that in order to make the most of open licensing, GLAMs need to curate, not create. To elaborate, GLAMs are currently “creating” work, in that they respond to demand by creating new programs, exhibitions and learning experiences.

So what is meant by GLAMs curating more? Do they not curate already? Well, yes, but with digital platforms they need to guide users around their collections with better searchability and categorisation of work, grading works for the appropriate audiences (from schoolchild to post-grad), and synthesise works by joining the dots between them.
This becomes especially important if they are releasing content on an open license. How can people use and remix content if they don’t know what’s available or can’t find what they are looking for? If people are given tools and support to navigate collections, and GLAMs work with the people that might want to use their collections, such as teachers, academics and creatives, these works go beyond just being available to being used to their full potential. In essence, we need a plan beyond the “Release, digitalise and dump” phase of opening up the GLAM sector.

Licensing Changes
The other aspect of the seminar was the change we can make to outdated or poor government policies on copyright if we push the right buttons. Melissa Terras, Director of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, gave a great talk about how the UK government licenses orphan works for use (at great cost to the applicant, and with a limited understanding of what “commercial use” can mean), and how she inadvertently made them amend their licensing policy to work better for individuals by writing an angry blog post about these restrictions.
Since then, attendees of the conference representing GLAMs, universities and the Open Knowledge community have started collaborating on and discussing what we can do to pressure our governments and the EU to be more progressive with copyright law. I hope we can collaborate in future to bring laws up to date with the digital age.

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