Canadian Heritage Information Network, Museum Guide to Digital Rights
Management. Presented at the Museum Computer Network...
Next comes object digitization and the attaching, linking or embedding of image rights
metadata, along with other image me...
1. Digital Asset Management Systems that focus on streamlining all processes and
data related to digital assets (which for...
Of these three, ImageSpan is actively seeking museum clients and the Missouri History
Museum is one example of an enthusia...
majority had good documentation of rightsholder contact information & correspondence,
of permissions granted them and lice...
3. Licensing
While we found that 80% of Canadian survey respondents licensed digital images for
commercial re-use, this wa...
viewers can freely distribute an image. Our speaker Alan Newman sits on the board
of directors of PLUS, representing the m...
In conclusion, the Guide advocates for an understanding of DRM as an inclusive,
systems-wide process: not simpl...
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Museum Guide to Digital Rights Management: Talk Transcript


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Transcript of talk accompanying slides for my presentation on "A Museum Guide to Digital Rights Management," at the Museum Computer Network 2010 conference, Oct 28, 2010. The "Museum Guide" is published by the Canadian heritage Information Network at

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Museum Guide to Digital Rights Management: Talk Transcript

  1. 1. Canadian Heritage Information Network, Museum Guide to Digital Rights Management. Presented at the Museum Computer Network 2010 Conference, Austin, Oct 28, 2010. 1. Introduction Welcome to the first presentation of the Museum Guide to Digital Rights Management, published today by the Canadian Heritage Information Network at < eng.jsp>, or The Guide is both a review of current practice in museum rights management and a guide to good practice, which is additionally captured in a 2-page Summary Recommendations Sheet, separately available. It is based on a survey of 17 Canadian museums, and interviews with 25 Canadian, US and British practitioners. The structure of the Guide and this presentation consists of: a definition of terms; a brief history and taxonomy of the key technologies involved; followed by highlights of findings and recommendations of the report, organized by following the typical intellectual property (IP) workflow of a museum. Iʼd also like to add that in addition to charting how technology can streamline and automate a museumʼs rights management workflow, the Guide is also a call to attention to the critical role that IP management now has in the cultural heritage community. The pressure is increasingly on today for museums to be clear about what rights they have and donʼt have and how images of their works can and cannot be used. Largely because of the Web, thereʼs been a big shift from a concern about those few images from the collection photographed for catalogs or art books towards getting the entire collection photographed, cataloged, and on the website for the world to see. [2] 2. Definitions Unfortunately the acronym ʻDRMʼ has been co-opted by industry to imply only asset protection, or rights enforcement through Technological Protection Measures (TPM). This however is a small part of what should be understood as digital rights management: essentially the management of intellectual property rights, by digital means, across the entire IP workflow - and it’s that workflow that structures this Guide. For IP workflow Iʼm using the classic “Rights In - Rights Out” scenario run traditionally by the Registrar and the Rights & Reproductions Office in a museum. First, Rights-In is about Object Rights: connecting the accession number of an object with its rights status and recording it in the Collection Management System (CMS). 1
  2. 2. Next comes object digitization and the attaching, linking or embedding of image rights metadata, along with other image metadata, to the image– increasingly this is in the realm of the Digital Asset management System (DAMS). Rights-Out then matches incoming image requests with available images, considers appropriate uses, determines fees, creates contracts, bills, fulfills - and sometimes tracks & documents image use, maybe invoking Asset Protection. Ideally a Rights Management System documents and controls this, but generally itʼs documented in a mish-mash of different systems: the CMS, the DAMS, an Excel spreadsheet, an Access database, or all of the above. 3. History & Technology Next, a few words about history. Computerization in the 70s, (accelerated by the arrival of the PC in the 80s), promised efficient access to more standardized and integrated documentation of museum processes. However, promising professionalism, databases also brought a new form of information chaos. Looking back in 1991,Robert Baron wrote: “The collections database maintained by the registrar will undoubtedly hold some or part of the information on donors that is also recorded in one form or another by the development officer. The registrar may even keep duplicate information on the same object, as may be discovered by inspecting the loans file, the exhibits file, the acquisitions file, the inventory file, and the artists file. The curator may be keeping his own notes on objects that are described in lesser detail in the registrar's inventory file.” Part of the answer here was the CMS. Developed in the 1980s, these systems were modular and had the ability to present data in different formats for different uses, promising a higher degree of integration across the museum. Here you see the example of the 10 integrated modules of one of the most popular systems, TMS. Somehow rights never got their own module, however. Simple object rights data is typically kept in the Objects + Constituents modules of TMS, while image requests, and licensing information is recorded in (hopefully linked) databases (like Filemaker or Access) or in another CMS module that has been hijacked for the purpose. Rapid digital developments in the early-90s, including the appearance of the Web, the ability to digitize & share images online, and the new expectation of universal image access, had an immense impact on museum documentation. But then, while the ability to store thousands of images on hard-drives & CDs, instead of in file cabinets, made life easier, the resulting proliferation of images yielded a new chaos. To this there were three responses: 2
  3. 3. 1. Digital Asset Management Systems that focus on streamlining all processes and data related to digital assets (which for museums are still mostly images, but which increasingly comprise other files such as audio and text files). The data in DAMS will include information about the relationships among all the images derived from a common object, as well as, most importantly for us, what object and image rights say about how an image can be used by the museum and others, and, perhaps, reports on how, when & where the image has been used. Here are the introduction dates of some of the key DAMS - mostly in the mid- to late 1990s. 2. Asset Protection/Rights Enforcement systems. The second response to image proliferation online, was to try to protect online images from perceived misuse. Of the two methods used, watermarking and encryption, encryption (the coding and de- coding of digital media so it can only be seen by authorized machines or individuals) has had a checkered career with commercial digital audio & video (and now ebooks). It, thankfully, has generally not been taken up by the cultural heritage community. The preferred route has been Watermarking, mostly consisting of embedding bits of data in random sections of a digital image that invisibly identifies it & its rightsholder when read with appropriate software. Digimarc is the leading provider of watermarking. Founded in 1995, it created a plug-in for Adobeʼs PhotoShop in 1996, & today offers plug-ins for a number of DAMS, enabling watermarking to be part of the asset management process. The Digimarc process includes an online tracker, that crawls the Web, reporting back where your images are appearing. 3. Rights Management Systems were a third response to digital proliferation, explicity adding an element of automation to the picture. Three rights management systems I note in the report are: RightsLine, developed in 1999 to provide rights-managed licensing for the movie industry, RightsLine is modular and goes from managing rights to automating licensing and royalty reporting (but no enforcement). Rightslink, which automates just the licensing part of the process, was launched by the Copyright Clearance Center in 2000. Clients register titles, licensing rates, different access levels and pricing structures (e.g., “view for free, but charge for printing”) and add it to their own site (as with The New York Times here). LicenseStream was founded as ImageSpanʼs LicenseStream in 2003 to focus on image and video licensing. LicenseStream automates the licensing process, from generating licenses to managing royalty payments, and adds tracking with the aid of Digimarcʼs tracking technologies. 3
  4. 4. Of these three, ImageSpan is actively seeking museum clients and the Missouri History Museum is one example of an enthusiastic recent adopter. 4. FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS In highlighting some of the key findings and recommendations of the report, please note that Iʼll follow the four stages of IP workflow, as reviewed earlier: first commenting on survey results and then on comments and themes arising from those surveys and the interviews. 1. First the IP Audit. This is in many ways a reality check on what a museum knows about the rights it has and doesnʼt have. It comprises two parts: discovering what you know and donʼt know and then repairing the gaps. Some of the highlights in our survey results on the IP Audit were a little bleak, but will probably not be a surprise: 1. Just a quarter said they had consistent IP records on 75% or more of their collection 2. 70% had not conducted IP Audit Several qualified this last statement by saying they had partial audits. Often a grant will allow the audit of a particular collection. Or a new website or museum celebration of some kind may lead to funds to do a better accounting of the rights of the objects involved. One of my favorite examples of a partial audit was provided by the Art Gallery of Ontario, which in 2002 had funds for interns to review & verify the IP status on 1,200 artworks that had rights assigned to the museum. They transferred contact information from index cards to an Excel spreadsheet, and rights status and licensing contract information from paper forms to an Access-based CMS. Both of these streams, youʼll be pleased to hear, were then joined together in the Galleryʼs implementation of TMS in 2010. This proved a signal moment for AGO in going electronic with its rights & in increasing its confidence about using reproductions of works in its collections in its store. Later, Deborah Wythe will discuss the Brooklyn Museumʼs “Copyright Initiative,” which is really an immense IP Audit, stretching over several years, and fast-tracking the comprehensive rights discovery & documentation of its collection. 2. Documenting and Managing IP Rights The documentation of an auditʼs results leads naturally into the next part of IP rights management workflow: how rights are recorded and can be called into action. To save time here, let me just say that 14 of the 17 surveyed Canadian museums had a CMS or DAMS which they used for IP Rights Management. Asked if they held consistent records for the seven categories displayed [slide 23], we see that a large 4
  5. 5. majority had good documentation of rightsholder contact information & correspondence, of permissions granted them and license agreements with 3rd parties, less than 3/4 had consistent records of whether material was in or out of copyright, and less than half had good records on how and where licensed works appeared, and for documenting the entire IP workflow. While everyone used multiple media to record this information, paper was still the default medium. This chart [slide 24] shows the use of a CMS to document these categories against paper. Note how more frequently a CMS is used in the early stages of the R&R workflow than later. Comments: 1. Integration is still a big challenge: getting good object IP documentation centralized & accessible and then having it link it to image rights metadata and licensing records. As this respondent put it [slide 25]. 2. Many Customize. Most understand that in general CMSs do not have capacious space for IP information. While some manage to use their CMS successfully “as is”, others customize (as here, slide 26, with Harvard Art Museums using tabs within the TMS Bibliography Module for recording permissions granted). 3. Analysis. Perhaps the reportʼs strongest recommendation is to conduct a rights workflow analysis - one that steps back to review where image creation & production fits into the grand scheme of the museumʼs mission & values. (To take extreme cases, is your museum more focused on protecting and conserving objects, or in sharing and aggressively educating the public about them?). The best articulation of this process that Iʼve found is the 2006 Chun/Jenkins article on the long, iterative process of review at the Met that led upto the implemention of the MediaBin DAMS (Susan Chun & Michael Jenkins, "Why Digital Asset Management? A Case Study." RLG DigiNews, 10 (6), December 15, 2006). 4. DAMS: Finally, the advantages of an asset management system include its focus on image-rights and other image metadata, and the dramatic improvement in the speed of image discovery & delivery, and control over image management in general. While some DAMS are expensive, some like Portfolio, can be installed in incremental stages (building from simple image management to Enterprise DAM). Later weʼll hear from Alan Newman about a fine-tuned system heʼs orchestrating at the National gallery of Art, where Portfolio (managing images), plays together with a new TMS implementation, new rights management software and a new licensing software, NGA Images. 5
  6. 6. 3. Licensing While we found that 80% of Canadian survey respondents licensed digital images for commercial re-use, this wasnʼt a major operation for any, with the exception of the National Gallery of Canada (NGC). Ten of the 14 did have a core set of images that were most frequently requested: and the NGC had a “Top 10” they advertised on their website. Comments: So, if youʼre interested in licensing, then: you need inventory; outsourcing helps; and thereʼs a definite move toward Automation. 1. INVENTORY: Effective licensing demands a well-cataloged, high-quality inventory, as here at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), you can search 346,000 works, and license 160,000. Such a licensing-ready inventory obviously needs clear rights-and- permissions information, a database that can match clientsʼ requirements with the most appropriate image, and a licensing system that can invoice, fulfill and track the image. 2. OUTSOURCING: All the US institutions interviewed had licensing operations, which most outsourced. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) both fully outsource a core set of around 7,000 images to Art Resource. (While MoMA still has to give final clearance before licensing can go ahead, the Met has pre-cleared its 7,000 for a core set of uses. However, all the problematic licensing requests go back to the Met for hands-on attention, which is detailed in the report). The MFA outsources to 5 companies for international distribution (slide 33). The single greatest outsourcing advantage is in being able to reach more non-arts markets by using a wider range of keywords and browsing categories than a museum is likely to use (or think of). Some of this range can be seen in this search page from the Bridgeman site (slide 34). 3. AUTOMATION: Licensing is one area ripe for automation: many large institutions are pricing and pre-clearing a core set of images, for a basic range of uses, that can be ordered through a shopping cart system on their website. Several British institutions have set up their own strongly-branded for-profit agencies, including V&A Images (500,000), Tate Images and British Museum Images (BMI). See the £146 fee charged for a ¼-page feature in a book using the Hokusai, “Under the Wave” from BMI, and the £55 fee for a William Blake online for a month (slide 35). In the U.S., the Missouri History Museum for one, similarly allows you to build your own license and pay online using LicenseStream. 4. PLUS. While some systems are embedding some fairly generic rights metadata into file headers: “This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. It may be protected by international copyright laws,” PLUS is promoting a universal flexible set of metadata standards for embedding full licensing details into the images. But itʼs not just for licensing - the system can be used, say, by a rightsholder to announce that 6
  7. 7. viewers can freely distribute an image. Our speaker Alan Newman sits on the board of directors of PLUS, representing the museum community, and he will be telling us a little more about PLUS in a moment. 4. Risk Management & Rights Protection There will always be the risk when using copyrighted work that a rightsholder will sue a museum for rights infringement. The level of risk is reduced by research into a workʼs rights story, but it will always increase when a museum canʼt identify or get a response from a rightsholder and uses a work without permission. In our survey, just half of respondents felt “somewhat” reluctant to display work for which rights were not clear. However, putting this in perspective, while 3/4 reported obstacles with digital projects, only four had projects stalled because of risk issues. Much more of a concern, seen in this sample of comments (slide 40), were the lack of financial and policy backing to build necesary digital infrastructure. Harvardʼs David Sturtevant remarked that in the past the Harvard Art Museums wouldnʼt allow any image to be shown with undetermined rights. Today, heʼs able to use principles of risk analysis to judge the wisdom of displaying them - weighing the value of an image that is missing rightsholder permission against possible outcomes (as Lesley Ellen Harris describes in her article on “Developing a Risk Management Plan” (slide 42). So, for David, if itʼs essential to an exhibit, or thereʼs no time to clear rights, but the use is “benign from a Fair Use standpoint,” then the image will be used. In the end, as we see here in a quote from the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), much will depend on the culture of the institution and the policies that govern its approach to its collection and its public. As fas as Rights Protection goes, in the survey, six of the 17 Canadian museums reported watermarking images. All were “somewhat satisfied” with the assurance it gave, but none sounded convinced or very excited by the advantages it conferred. Several like the CCA had once used watermarking but they donʼt do it today, although CCA does try to disable the downloading of high-res study images from its site. The Nova Scotia Museum noted it had placed visible identifying watermarks on its library of low-resolution “Images Nova Scotia” in 2002, but isnʼt at all happy about it. Generally there was interest, but not much discussion or knowledge about what was available (slide 44). While many museums have stopped using watermarking, others have taken it up. Shortly weʼll hear from Darci Vanderfhoff about the experience of the Phillips Collection. 7
  8. 8. Conclusion In conclusion, the Guide advocates for an understanding of DRM as an inclusive, systems-wide process: not simply about hard-case rights protection but more about the process of discovery, evaluation, documentation, and monetization of image rights & using those rights in the further development and sharing of our global cultural heritage. It finally comes down, I warrant, to replacing those “ALL RIGHTS RESERVED” notices we see on websites, with specific and clear indications of what is copyrighted (the object and/or the image), perhaps with encouragement, where appropriate, to go forth and actively re-use the materials of our common cultural heritage. 45.In the words of Josh Greenberg (recently of the New York Public Library), “Showing something on a screen is a start, but it is not the end of what we aspire to, the people we serve want to be able to do [things] with the material we are putting out.” Making it clear what people can do with these images is partly the job of DRM. 8