“Almost 1000 cultural heritage institutions around the world1 have published some or all of their online collections for free reuse, modification and sharing. They are part of the ‘Open GLAM’ (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) movement that views liberal access2 and reuse (where culturally appropriate3) of digital collections as fundamental to education, research and public engagement.
A key principle of Open GLAM is that works in the public domain – in which copyright has expired or never existed – should remain in the public domain once digitized. However, many museums do assert copyright in digital reproductions of public domain artworks. How legally legitimate is this? Although the answer is not straightforward (the relevant copyright law is complex and lacks international harmonization), in the European Union the standard of originality for a new copyright requires that the work be the ‘author’s own intellectual creation’….”