Executive Summary: Research findings and recommendations for developing a Declaration on Open Access to Cultural Heritage

“Cultural heritage institutions face a number of obstacles to digitizing and making collections available online. Many are beyond their control. But there is one important area that these institutions do have control over: the access and reuse parameters applied to a breadth of media generated during the reproduction of public domain works.

Whether to claim intellectual property rights (IPR) or release the reproduction media of public domain works via open access parameters is a contentious topic among the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums). Evidence shows GLAMs take a range of approaches to open access and encounter various obstacles that can hamper the release of cultural materials to the public domain. One of these obstacles is the lack of coordinated and sustainable support for GLAMs with open access ambitions.

Earlier this year, Wikimedia Foundation and Creative Commons came together to assist the OpenGLAM initiative and bridge this gap. The Wikimedia Foundation provided funding for an exploratory research paper on open access to cultural heritage. With the Wikimedia Foundation’s support, Creative Commons is now leading an initiative to develop a Declaration on Open Access to Cultural Heritage, along with a public consultation process to refine and generate consensus on what the Declaration might achieve.

This resource is meant to kick off that process. It brings together valuable insight from practice with wider societal questions to reflect on the trajectory of the open GLAM movement to date and its future needs. The research to support this work sought to:

To take stock of and reflect on open GLAM practices and the intellectual property rights (IPR) management of digital collections; and within this

Identify areas of uncertainty presenting barriers to open GLAM participation;

Identify new areas of focus emerging from open GLAM practice; and

Produce an open access resource to inform the development of a Declaration on Open Access for Cultural Heritage….”