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Essay for Sharing is Caring - Eva Van Passel

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This essay accompanies the slides for my talk at 'Sharing is Caring: Right to Remix' held in Copenhagen on 2 October 2015: http://www.slideshare.net/evpassel/sharing-is-caring-2015-eva-van-passel The talk has also been filmed, and is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHjJPcGi0mw . http://sharecare.nu/category/sic-2015/

Essay for Sharing is Caring - Eva Van Passel

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  1	
  
How	
  open	
  is	
  open	
  enough?	
  	
  
A	
  philosophy	
  of	
  cultural	
  commons	
  for	
  the	
  cultural	
  heritage	
  sector.	
  
	
  
Eva	
  Van	
  Passel	
  
(Researcher	
  at	
  iMinds-­‐SMIT,	
  Vrije	
  Universiteit	
  Brussel)	
  
	
  
This	
  essay	
  is	
  based	
  on	
  my	
  keynote	
  talk	
  at	
  the	
  seminar	
  “Sharing	
  is	
  Caring:	
  Right	
  to	
  Remix?”,	
  
which	
  was	
  held	
  in	
  Copenhagen	
  on	
  2	
  October	
  2015.	
  The	
  essay	
  has	
  been	
  adapted	
  somewhat,	
  
mainly	
  to	
  enable	
  it	
  to	
  be	
  read	
  outside	
  of	
  the	
  direct	
  context	
  of	
  the	
  seminar.	
  The	
  reader	
  is	
  
advised	
  to	
  keep	
  in	
  mind	
  that	
  the	
  talk	
  this	
  essay	
  is	
  based	
  on	
  addressed	
  the	
  cultural	
  sector	
  as	
  
its	
  main	
  audience.	
  As	
  such,	
  the	
  essay	
  is	
  not	
  intended	
  to	
  be	
  an	
  academic	
  research	
  article.	
  
However,	
  references	
  to	
  more	
  detailed	
  academic	
  accounts	
  of	
  some	
  of	
  the	
  issues	
  discussed	
  
have	
  been	
  included,	
  and	
  the	
  author	
  can	
  be	
  contacted	
  at	
  eva.van.passel@vub.ac.be	
  or	
  at	
  
https://www.linkedin.com/in/evavanpassel.	
  
	
  	
  
	
  
Introduction	
  
	
  
Cultural	
  heritage	
  institutions	
  are	
  redefining	
  their	
  roles	
  in	
  a	
  context	
  of	
  digital	
  
access	
  to	
  culture.	
  They	
  are	
  finding	
  themselves	
  in	
  a	
  world	
  where	
  they	
  don’t	
  just	
  
have	
  visitors;	
  they	
  have	
  users,	
  learners,	
  makers,	
  and	
  online	
  experience	
  seekers.	
  
Digital	
  engagement	
  is	
  such	
  an	
  important	
  part	
  of	
  many	
  of	
  these	
  users’	
  lives.	
  A	
  key	
  
question	
  many	
  institutions	
  in	
  the	
  GLAM	
  sector	
  are	
  dealing	
  with	
  is:	
  how	
  can	
  we,	
  as	
  
a	
  cultural	
  sector,	
  get	
  involved	
  in	
  this	
  all,	
  and	
  do	
  this	
  in	
  a	
  meaningful	
  manner?	
  The	
  
challenge	
  will	
  be	
  to	
  ensure	
  that	
  the	
  mission	
  of	
  the	
  cultural	
  sector	
  as	
  a	
  whole	
  
includes	
  room	
  for	
  engagement,	
  interaction	
  and	
  co-­‐creation.	
  In	
  this	
  essay,	
  I	
  do	
  not	
  
wish	
  to	
  expand	
  on	
  this	
  context	
  further,	
  though	
  I	
  have	
  done	
  so	
  in	
  previous	
  
articles.1	
  Instead,	
  I	
  would	
  mainly	
  wish	
  to	
  focus	
  on	
  some	
  insights	
  and	
  thoughts	
  on	
  
strategies	
  cultural	
  institutions	
  might	
  like	
  to	
  consider	
  within	
  this	
  context,	
  based	
  
on	
  my	
  experiences	
  as	
  a	
  researcher,	
  and	
  my	
  collaborations	
  with	
  practitioners	
  and	
  
policy	
  makers	
  from	
  the	
  sectors	
  of	
  cultural	
  heritage	
  and	
  the	
  arts.	
  	
  
	
  
I	
  started	
  as	
  a	
  researcher	
  at	
  iMinds-­‐SMIT	
  at	
  the	
  Vrije	
  Universiteit	
  Brussel	
  in	
  2007,	
  
and	
  I	
  have	
  worked	
  with	
  the	
  cultural	
  sector	
  for	
  many	
  years	
  now.	
  My	
  first	
  
encounters	
  with	
  arts	
  and	
  heritage	
  institutions	
  were	
  all	
  within	
  Flanders	
  
(Belgium).	
  I	
  have	
  been	
  involved	
  in	
  a	
  few	
  consecutive	
  research	
  projects	
  on	
  the	
  
topic	
  of	
  joint	
  digitisation	
  of	
  collections	
  of	
  a	
  variety	
  of	
  institutions,	
  including	
  a	
  
focus	
  on	
  financing	
  models,	
  the	
  issue	
  of	
  long-­‐term	
  preservation,	
  and	
  crucially	
  the	
  
challenges	
  related	
  to	
  making	
  those	
  digitised	
  collections	
  available	
  to	
  a	
  variety	
  of	
  
audiences.	
  My	
  focus	
  was	
  never	
  on	
  the	
  technical	
  or	
  the	
  legal	
  (copyright)	
  aspects,	
  
but	
  on	
  the	
  strategic	
  and	
  policy	
  challenges	
  that	
  these	
  evolutions	
  create	
  for	
  
institutions	
  and	
  the	
  people	
  working	
  within	
  them.	
  From	
  that	
  Flemish	
  context,	
  I	
  
then	
  moved	
  on	
  to	
  a	
  wider	
  European	
  context.	
  iMinds-­‐SMIT	
  was	
  involved	
  in	
  one	
  of	
  
the	
  projects	
  aggregating	
  content	
  for	
  Europeana,	
  of	
  which	
  there	
  have	
  been	
  many	
  
over	
  the	
  years.	
  Again,	
  I	
  focused	
  on	
  ‘the	
  strategic	
  stuff’	
  within	
  this	
  project,	
  and	
  the	
  
requirements	
  of	
  institutions.	
  In	
  parallel	
  with	
  this,	
  I	
  also	
  worked	
  on	
  a	
  small-­‐scale	
  
research	
  project	
  with	
  a	
  contemporary	
  artist.	
  This	
  paragraph	
  is	
  not	
  merely	
  
intended	
  as	
  a	
  biographical	
  note,	
  but	
  as	
  a	
  sketch	
  of	
  the	
  context	
  in	
  which	
  my	
  views	
  
on	
  the	
  challenges	
  facing	
  the	
  sector	
  have	
  taken	
  shape.	
  The	
  first	
  section	
  of	
  this	
  
essay	
  will	
  elaborate	
  further	
  on	
  these	
  research	
  experiences.	
  
  2	
  
	
  
Fictional	
  institutions	
  and	
  institutional	
  frictions	
  
	
  
The	
  project	
  Europeana	
  Inside	
  was	
  a	
  Best	
  Practice	
  Network	
  committed	
  to	
  
reducing	
  and	
  removing	
  barriers	
  to	
  participation	
  in	
  Europeana	
  at	
  several	
  levels,	
  
organisational,	
  legal,	
  technical	
  and	
  financial.2	
  However,	
  the	
  open	
  licensing	
  of	
  
metadata	
  was	
  not	
  really	
  seen	
  as	
  a	
  barrier	
  in	
  the	
  early	
  stages	
  of	
  the	
  project.	
  
During	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  early	
  meetings,	
  the	
  project	
  manager	
  in	
  fact	
  pointed	
  out	
  that	
  all	
  
the	
  institutions	
  that	
  had	
  joined	
  the	
  project	
  had	
  fully	
  committed	
  to	
  open	
  data.	
  
This	
  was	
  presumed	
  to	
  be	
  the	
  case,	
  as	
  Europeana’s	
  Data	
  Exchange	
  Agreement	
  
(DEA)	
  implied	
  that	
  providers	
  have	
  to	
  authorise	
  the	
  publication	
  of	
  all	
  metadata	
  
under	
  the	
  Creative	
  Commons	
  Universal	
  Public	
  Domain	
  Dedication	
  (CC0).	
  All	
  
institutions	
  present	
  at	
  the	
  meeting	
  had	
  indeed	
  signed	
  up	
  to	
  the	
  project	
  and	
  as	
  
such	
  to	
  the	
  principle	
  of	
  making	
  content	
  and	
  metadata	
  available	
  through	
  
Europeana.	
  However,	
  when	
  they	
  were	
  being	
  confronted	
  with	
  the	
  implications	
  in	
  
practice,	
  it	
  turned	
  out	
  some	
  of	
  them	
  were	
  suddenly	
  starting	
  to	
  reconsider	
  this	
  
commitment	
  to	
  open	
  data,	
  and	
  to	
  think	
  carefully	
  about	
  what	
  they	
  wanted	
  to	
  
share.	
  For	
  example,	
  many	
  museums	
  didn’t	
  want	
  to	
  share	
  the	
  full	
  scientific	
  
descriptions	
  their	
  curators	
  wrote	
  about	
  certain	
  works	
  under	
  the	
  specific	
  CC0	
  
conditions	
  of	
  the	
  DEA.3	
  
	
  
So	
  while	
  from	
  Europeana’s	
  point	
  of	
  view,	
  it	
  made	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  sense	
  to	
  try	
  and	
  
streamline	
  the	
  metadata	
  they	
  aggregate	
  as	
  much	
  as	
  possible,	
  the	
  project	
  
illustrated	
  that	
  a	
  one	
  size	
  fits	
  all	
  approach	
  can	
  be	
  scary	
  for	
  many,	
  and	
  that	
  needs	
  
of	
  diverse	
  institutions	
  can	
  differ	
  widely.	
  I	
  am	
  glad	
  to	
  say	
  that	
  Europeana	
  was	
  
always	
  available	
  to	
  listen	
  to	
  our	
  concerns,	
  and	
  by	
  means	
  of	
  their	
  recent	
  
publishing	
  framework,	
  they	
  are	
  offering	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  flexibility	
  and	
  guidance	
  when	
  it	
  
comes	
  to	
  different	
  licensing	
  options	
  to	
  share	
  collection	
  items.4	
  The	
  reluctance	
  
noted	
  in	
  Europeana	
  Inside	
  did	
  not	
  necessarily	
  mean	
  that	
  the	
  participating	
  
institutions	
  were	
  not	
  willing	
  to	
  share	
  and	
  open	
  up.	
  In	
  many	
  cases,	
  they	
  were	
  very	
  
positive	
  towards	
  the	
  idea,	
  but	
  they	
  were	
  simply	
  not	
  ready	
  to	
  do	
  so	
  to	
  the	
  extent	
  
that	
  the	
  license	
  required.	
  	
  
	
  
In	
  parallel	
  to	
  Europeana	
  Inside,	
  I	
  also	
  started	
  working	
  with	
  the	
  filmmaker	
  and	
  
contemporary	
  artist	
  called	
  Jasper	
  Rigole	
  on	
  a	
  small	
  research	
  project,	
  within	
  the	
  
context	
  of	
  the	
  Art&D	
  programme	
  of	
  iMinds.5	
  Jasper	
  collects	
  8mm	
  films	
  that	
  he	
  
finds	
  at	
  flea	
  markets,	
  so	
  mostly	
  home	
  movies,	
  and	
  remixes	
  and	
  reimagines	
  them	
  
to	
  his	
  own	
  beautiful	
  and	
  often	
  nostalgic	
  works	
  of	
  art.	
  	
  He	
  has	
  been	
  collecting	
  
these	
  found	
  reels	
  of	
  tape	
  for	
  many	
  years,	
  and	
  based	
  on	
  this	
  collection,	
  he	
  has	
  
founded	
  his	
  own	
  fictional	
  cultural	
  institute,	
  the	
  International	
  Institute	
  for	
  the	
  
Conservation,	
  Archiving	
  and	
  Distribution	
  of	
  other	
  People’s	
  Memories	
  (IICADOM).	
  
As	
  you	
  can	
  perhaps	
  tell	
  by	
  the	
  name,	
  it	
  was	
  started	
  somewhat	
  ironically,	
  and	
  it	
  
involved	
  criticism	
  on	
  some	
  memory	
  institutions’	
  more	
  archaic	
  and	
  bureaucratic	
  
tendencies.	
  However,	
  over	
  the	
  years	
  it	
  has	
  grown	
  to	
  the	
  extent	
  that	
  it	
  has	
  
surpassed	
  fiction	
  and	
  has	
  become	
  a	
  veritable	
  archive.	
  Together	
  with	
  Jasper,	
  I	
  
wrote	
  an	
  article	
  about	
  the	
  lessons	
  real	
  institutions	
  can	
  learn	
  from	
  this	
  example	
  
from	
  fiction	
  –	
  the	
  title	
  of	
  this	
  section	
  of	
  the	
  essay,	
  ‘fictional	
  institutions	
  and	
  
institutional	
  frictions’,	
  was	
  also	
  part	
  of	
  this	
  article’s	
  title.	
  6	
  
	
  
  3	
  
A	
  big	
  distinctive	
  factor	
  of	
  IICADOM	
  is	
  of	
  course	
  that	
  as	
  a	
  ‘fake’	
  or	
  ‘fictional’	
  
institution,	
  it	
  is	
  not	
  accountable	
  to	
  the	
  government,	
  to	
  its	
  users	
  or	
  to	
  an	
  authentic	
  
preservation	
  of	
  the	
  past.	
  This	
  offers	
  some	
  opportunities,	
  but	
  it	
  also	
  means	
  
Jasper’s	
  work	
  doesn’t	
  fall	
  under	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  the	
  exceptions	
  to	
  copyright	
  that	
  cultural	
  
institutions	
  can	
  benefit	
  from.	
  In	
  a	
  sense,	
  he	
  is	
  therefore	
  confronted	
  with	
  less	
  risk	
  
–	
  due	
  to	
  the	
  lack	
  of	
  accountability	
  –	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  more	
  risk	
  –	
  due	
  to	
  the	
  lack	
  of	
  
protective	
  exceptions.	
  His	
  collection	
  is	
  by	
  default	
  all	
  found	
  footage,	
  so	
  it’s	
  a	
  
collection	
  of	
  only	
  orphaned	
  works.	
  There	
  is	
  no	
  easy	
  way	
  to	
  even	
  start	
  doing	
  a	
  
diligent	
  search	
  for	
  rights	
  holders	
  of	
  reels	
  of	
  films	
  you	
  find	
  at	
  flea	
  markets,	
  so	
  
there	
  is	
  still	
  some	
  risk	
  attached	
  to	
  using	
  the	
  footage.	
  Jasper	
  made	
  a	
  large	
  
selection	
  of	
  footage	
  available	
  to	
  download	
  through	
  the	
  platform	
  
https://archive.org/	
  under	
  a	
  Creative	
  Commons	
  license.	
  As	
  these	
  are	
  orphan	
  
works	
  and	
  he	
  is	
  not	
  actually	
  the	
  rightsholder,	
  this	
  entails	
  a	
  certain	
  level	
  of	
  risk.	
  
For	
  cultural	
  institutions,	
  lessons	
  can	
  perhaps	
  be	
  learned	
  on	
  attitudes	
  to	
  risk.	
  It	
  is	
  
not	
  a	
  risk	
  free	
  approach,	
  but	
  I	
  believe	
  it	
  to	
  be	
  a	
  low	
  risk	
  strategy.	
  It	
  might	
  be	
  an	
  
interesting	
  thought	
  exercise	
  to	
  just	
  consider	
  what	
  is	
  possible	
  at	
  a	
  low	
  risk	
  level.	
  	
  
	
  
Another	
  lesson	
  to	
  be	
  learned	
  is	
  that,	
  as	
  can	
  be	
  noted	
  from	
  the	
  example	
  of	
  
archive.org,	
  IICADOM	
  interacts	
  with	
  existing	
  external	
  platforms.	
  This	
  remains	
  a	
  
solid	
  recommendation	
  as	
  a	
  way	
  forward	
  to	
  memory	
  institutions	
  as	
  well:	
  find	
  the	
  
users	
  where	
  they	
  are,	
  don’t	
  just	
  expect	
  them	
  to	
  come	
  and	
  find	
  you.	
  This	
  is	
  
definitely	
  something	
  that	
  even	
  a	
  portal	
  the	
  size	
  of	
  Europeana	
  has	
  started	
  to	
  focus	
  
on	
  more	
  and	
  more	
  over	
  the	
  years,	
  and	
  it	
  is	
  worth	
  repeating.	
  Finally,	
  on	
  his	
  own	
  
website,	
  Jasper	
  also	
  wanted	
  to	
  create	
  mechanisms	
  for	
  creative	
  reuse	
  of	
  the	
  
footage.	
  His	
  idea	
  was	
  to	
  set	
  up	
  a	
  section	
  on	
  the	
  website	
  where	
  users	
  could	
  adopt	
  
memories,	
  interact	
  with	
  them,	
  base	
  new	
  works	
  on	
  them,	
  and	
  truly	
  make	
  them	
  
their	
  own.	
  So	
  IICADOM	
  is	
  not	
  only	
  about	
  allowing	
  creative	
  reuse,	
  via	
  downloads	
  
on	
  archive.org,	
  but	
  also	
  about	
  fostering	
  and	
  encouraging	
  it.	
  In	
  the	
  paper	
  we	
  
wrote,	
  all	
  of	
  these	
  lessons	
  were	
  then	
  contrasted	
  with	
  some	
  of	
  the	
  more	
  reluctant	
  
and	
  risk-­‐averse	
  attitudes	
  to	
  openness	
  that	
  I	
  have	
  encountered	
  at	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  cultural	
  
institutions	
  during	
  my	
  research,	
  certainly	
  not	
  only	
  within	
  Europeana	
  Inside,	
  but	
  
also	
  notably	
  in	
  the	
  local	
  context	
  of	
  Flanders,	
  Belgium.	
  
	
  
Towards	
  a	
  philosophy	
  of	
  cultural	
  commons	
  
	
  
In	
  the	
  previous	
  section	
  of	
  this	
  essay,	
  I	
  explained	
  some	
  of	
  my	
  research	
  findings	
  
from	
  the	
  last	
  few	
  years,	
  and	
  the	
  perspectives	
  I	
  gained	
  on	
  what	
  is	
  going	
  on	
  in	
  the	
  
sector.	
  This	
  is	
  not	
  just	
  for	
  the	
  sake	
  of	
  talking	
  about	
  the	
  research,	
  but	
  it	
  illustrates,	
  
in	
  my	
  view,	
  why	
  we	
  might	
  need	
  more	
  of	
  a	
  framework	
  to	
  deal	
  with	
  all	
  of	
  these	
  
challenges,	
  this	
  philosophy	
  of	
  cultural	
  commons.	
  My	
  main	
  feeling	
  is	
  that	
  there	
  
are	
  so	
  many	
  ad	
  hoc	
  challenges	
  crossing	
  the	
  path	
  of	
  cultural	
  institutions.	
  They	
  all	
  
have	
  to	
  focus	
  on	
  the	
  latest	
  thing	
  or	
  the	
  newest	
  trend	
  –	
  sometimes	
  it’s	
  open	
  
metadata,	
  openly	
  licensed	
  content,	
  APIs,	
  or	
  it	
  might	
  be	
  ideas	
  such	
  as	
  ‘we	
  must	
  be	
  
on	
  Pinterest’,	
  ‘we	
  need	
  to	
  be	
  on	
  Instagram’,	
  ‘Tumblr	
  is	
  where	
  it’s	
  at	
  right	
  now’.	
  
With	
  all	
  of	
  these	
  trends	
  that	
  institutions	
  are	
  faced	
  with,	
  for	
  which	
  they	
  have	
  to	
  
come	
  up	
  with	
  an	
  approach	
  on	
  the	
  spot,	
  it’s	
  hard	
  to	
  know	
  where	
  to	
  start.	
  There	
  
has	
  to	
  be	
  a	
  better	
  way.	
  	
  
	
  
  4	
  
This	
  is	
  why	
  we	
  considered	
  it	
  would	
  be	
  useful	
  to	
  move	
  towards	
  a	
  framework,	
  a	
  
philosophy	
  that	
  takes	
  more	
  of	
  an	
  overarching	
  view,	
  and	
  as	
  such	
  can	
  be	
  much	
  
more	
  about	
  the	
  missions	
  of	
  institutions	
  than	
  about	
  just	
  dealing	
  with	
  the	
  latest	
  
trend.	
  To	
  stress	
  this	
  point	
  even	
  further,	
  I	
  would	
  like	
  to	
  show	
  this	
  wonderful	
  chart	
  
made	
  by	
  Andrea	
  Wallace,	
  who	
  works	
  at	
  CREATe	
  Research	
  Centre	
  in	
  the	
  UK.	
  It	
  
shows	
  a	
  number	
  of	
  institutions	
  in	
  the	
  UK	
  (each	
  row	
  is	
  one	
  institution),	
  and	
  what	
  
they	
  allow,	
  or	
  do	
  not	
  allow,	
  their	
  visitors	
  or	
  users	
  to	
  do,	
  both	
  during	
  a	
  visit	
  or	
  
with	
  content	
  they	
  might	
  find	
  on	
  the	
  website	
  (each	
  column	
  is	
  something	
  which	
  
users	
  might	
  like	
  to	
  do).	
  It	
  immediately	
  and	
  very	
  visually	
  shows	
  that	
  institutions	
  
often	
  take	
  different	
  approaches	
  to	
  opening	
  up.	
  She	
  used	
  this	
  chart	
  in	
  a	
  recent	
  
presentation	
  on	
  surrogate	
  rights	
  many	
  institutions	
  create	
  for	
  themselves,	
  when	
  
they	
  decide	
  to	
  make	
  available	
  works	
  that	
  are	
  in	
  the	
  public	
  domain.	
  In	
  my	
  view,	
  
this	
  idea	
  of	
  surrogate	
  rights	
  illustrates	
  very	
  well	
  why	
  we	
  might	
  want	
  to	
  consider	
  
a	
  wider	
  framework	
  for	
  sharing	
  and	
  opening	
  up,	
  and	
  why	
  cultural	
  commons	
  may	
  
be	
  such	
  a	
  useful	
  approach.	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
I’ve	
  been	
  working	
  on	
  this	
  idea	
  together	
  with	
  two	
  colleagues	
  from	
  the	
  field	
  of	
  
cultural	
  policy	
  in	
  Flanders,	
  not	
  within	
  a	
  research	
  project,	
  but	
  for	
  the	
  purposes	
  of	
  
a	
  paper	
  we	
  wrote	
  together	
  for	
  a	
  conference.	
  This	
  paper	
  was	
  mostly	
  based	
  on	
  all	
  
of	
  our	
  experiences	
  with	
  the	
  sector,	
  and	
  on	
  a	
  thought	
  exercise	
  to	
  try	
  and	
  make	
  
sense	
  of	
  it	
  all	
  (van	
  der	
  Linden,	
  Van	
  Passel	
  &	
  Driesen,	
  2014).7	
  We	
  hope	
  to	
  be	
  able	
  
to	
  build	
  on	
  this	
  further	
  in	
  research,	
  policy	
  and	
  practice	
  in	
  the	
  future.	
  We	
  are	
  by	
  
no	
  means	
  the	
  first	
  to	
  consider	
  cultural	
  commons	
  as	
  an	
  option	
  for	
  the	
  cultural	
  
heritage	
  sector.	
  We	
  wanted	
  to	
  further	
  our	
  thoughts	
  on	
  the	
  approach,	
  with	
  the	
  
  5	
  
aim	
  of	
  coming	
  up	
  with	
  something	
  that	
  might	
  be	
  useful	
  for	
  policy	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  
practice.	
  For	
  this,	
  and	
  in	
  the	
  paper	
  we	
  wrote,	
  we	
  looked	
  at	
  the	
  model	
  of	
  
constructed	
  cultural	
  commons,	
  as	
  it	
  was	
  developed	
  by	
  Michael	
  Madison,	
  Brett	
  
Frischmann	
  &	
  Katherine	
  Strandburg	
  (2010).	
  First,	
  it’s	
  worth	
  pointing	
  out	
  some	
  
of	
  the	
  guiding	
  principles	
  behind	
  our	
  thoughts,	
  which	
  are	
  cultural	
  principles	
  at	
  
heart	
  –	
  principles	
  I	
  believe	
  the	
  cultural	
  sector	
  can	
  get	
  behind,	
  and	
  which	
  should	
  
underpin	
  a	
  cultural	
  commons	
  approach.8	
  Culture,	
  also	
  in	
  digital	
  form,	
  has	
  
intrinsic	
  value.	
  Users	
  should	
  therefore	
  have	
  the	
  right	
  to	
  sustainable	
  access	
  to	
  
these	
  valuable	
  assets	
  –	
  now	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  in	
  the	
  future	
  –	
  and	
  the	
  offer	
  needs	
  to	
  be	
  
varied	
  and	
  inclusive.	
  The	
  latter,	
  inclusiveness,	
  in	
  the	
  context	
  of	
  this	
  essay	
  
certainly	
  implies	
  that	
  focusing	
  only	
  on	
  public	
  domain	
  content	
  is	
  not	
  enough.	
  
Openness	
  and	
  opening	
  up	
  is	
  really	
  not	
  only	
  a	
  principle	
  in	
  itself,	
  but	
  also	
  a	
  way	
  to	
  
make	
  sure	
  the	
  other	
  guiding	
  principles	
  are	
  supported.	
  
	
  
Madison	
  and	
  his	
  colleagues	
  break	
  the	
  approach	
  of	
  constructed	
  cultural	
  commons	
  
down	
  into	
  some	
  key	
  factors.	
  In	
  my	
  talk	
  at	
  Sharing	
  is	
  Caring,	
  and	
  also	
  in	
  this	
  essay,	
  
I	
  tried	
  to	
  steer	
  away	
  form	
  a	
  heavily	
  theoretical	
  approach.	
  A	
  crucial	
  thing	
  to	
  point	
  
out	
  is	
  that	
  the	
  model	
  was	
  built	
  as	
  a	
  framework	
  to	
  analyse	
  cultural	
  commons,	
  but	
  
that	
  we	
  tried	
  to	
  look	
  at	
  the	
  cultural	
  commons	
  framework	
  not	
  only	
  as	
  a	
  tool	
  for	
  
research,	
  but	
  also	
  as	
  an	
  underlying	
  philosophy	
  for	
  cultural	
  policy	
  and	
  
governance.	
  In	
  looking	
  at	
  cultural	
  commons,	
  Madison	
  et	
  al.	
  (2010,	
  pp.	
  688-­‐704)	
  
propose	
  to	
  analyse	
  4	
  main	
  factors:	
  resources	
  and	
  community;	
  goals	
  and	
  
objectives;	
  degrees	
  of	
  openness;	
  and	
  governance.	
  What	
  we	
  tried	
  to	
  do	
  is	
  look	
  at	
  
these	
  factors	
  as	
  key	
  points	
  that	
  the	
  cultural	
  sector,	
  even	
  on	
  an	
  institutional	
  level,	
  
can	
  think	
  about	
  to	
  build	
  a	
  cultural	
  commons.	
  Again,	
  the	
  paper	
  we	
  wrote	
  does	
  this	
  
in	
  a	
  lot	
  more	
  detail	
  and	
  with	
  a	
  lot	
  more	
  references	
  than	
  I	
  want	
  to	
  burden	
  you	
  
with	
  in	
  this	
  essay.	
  	
  
	
  
First,	
  it	
  might	
  be	
  fruitful	
  to	
  simply	
  take	
  a	
  moment	
  to	
  consider	
  what	
  our	
  resources	
  
are,	
  and	
  who	
  our	
  community	
  is.	
  Of	
  course,	
  if	
  we	
  look	
  at	
  the	
  sector	
  as	
  a	
  whole,	
  this	
  
is	
  almost	
  endless,	
  but	
  you	
  can	
  also	
  look	
  at	
  this	
  from	
  your	
  own	
  institution’s	
  point	
  
of	
  view	
  as	
  well.	
  Who	
  are	
  your	
  users,	
  what	
  are	
  their	
  expectations,	
  and	
  what	
  can	
  
you	
  offer	
  them	
  in	
  terms	
  of	
  cultural	
  resources?	
  The	
  goals	
  and	
  objectives	
  then,	
  in	
  a	
  
simplified	
  and	
  general	
  manner,	
  might	
  simply	
  be	
  to	
  give	
  access	
  to	
  culture	
  to	
  as	
  
many	
  people	
  as	
  possible.	
  In	
  an	
  age	
  of	
  (re)users	
  and	
  makers,	
  this	
  should	
  include	
  
to	
  be	
  as	
  open	
  as	
  possible,	
  including	
  towards	
  reuse	
  and	
  remix	
  practices.	
  How	
  
open	
  this	
  is,	
  however,	
  might	
  change	
  depending	
  on	
  specific	
  user	
  communities,	
  
and	
  it	
  can	
  also	
  be	
  different	
  depending	
  on	
  the	
  content	
  being	
  shared.	
  This	
  is	
  where	
  
the	
  model	
  really	
  shines:	
  it	
  allows	
  and	
  expects	
  different	
  degrees	
  of	
  openness.	
  An	
  
approach	
  like	
  this	
  is	
  very	
  much	
  present	
  in	
  a	
  tool	
  such	
  as	
  the	
  Creative	
  Commons	
  
licenses,	
  which	
  you	
  can	
  really	
  pick	
  and	
  choose	
  from	
  with	
  the	
  goal	
  of	
  being	
  more	
  
or	
  less	
  open.	
  These	
  degrees	
  of	
  openness	
  are	
  part	
  of	
  the	
  reason	
  why	
  cultural	
  
commons	
  need	
  governance.	
  This	
  is	
  not	
  only	
  to	
  be	
  understood	
  in	
  a	
  restrictive	
  
way,	
  as	
  in	
  rules	
  that	
  tell	
  us	
  who	
  can	
  do	
  what,	
  but	
  especially	
  also	
  in	
  terms	
  of	
  
guidance,	
  in	
  terms	
  of	
  making	
  sure	
  the	
  community	
  understands	
  what	
  they	
  can	
  do	
  
with	
  the	
  resources	
  made	
  available	
  to	
  them.	
  	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
  6	
  
And	
  in	
  practice?	
  Concluding	
  remarks	
  on	
  opening	
  up	
  
	
  
I’d	
  like	
  to	
  end	
  with	
  what	
  this	
  can	
  mean	
  in	
  practice,	
  though	
  I	
  should	
  repeat	
  that	
  
these	
  ideas	
  should	
  ideally	
  be	
  further	
  developed	
  in	
  research,	
  policy	
  and	
  practice.	
  
This	
  is	
  nothing	
  earth-­‐shattering,	
  nothing	
  too	
  complicated,	
  nothing	
  perhaps	
  
altogether	
  new,	
  but	
  these	
  are	
  things	
  that	
  merit	
  repeating.	
  
	
  
The	
  first	
  point	
  is,	
  please	
  beware	
  of	
  the	
  black	
  hole	
  of	
  the	
  20th	
  century.	
  Public	
  
domain	
  stuff	
  is	
  the	
  easiest	
  stuff,	
  at	
  least	
  from	
  a	
  licensing	
  point	
  of	
  view.	
  Newly	
  
created	
  stuff	
  can	
  sometimes	
  be	
  given	
  more	
  internet-­‐appropriate	
  licensing,	
  for	
  
example	
  through	
  Creative	
  Commons,	
  or	
  at	
  least	
  the	
  contracts	
  institutions	
  sign	
  
now	
  with	
  rights	
  holders	
  can	
  take	
  the	
  digital	
  realm	
  into	
  account.	
  But	
  all	
  the	
  stuff	
  
in-­‐between	
  is	
  hard	
  work.	
  However,	
  that	
  really	
  shouldn’t	
  mean	
  it	
  should	
  just	
  be	
  
ignored.	
  Orphan	
  works	
  legislation	
  might	
  make	
  some	
  of	
  it	
  easier,	
  and	
  there	
  I’d	
  
like	
  to	
  recall	
  the	
  idea	
  of	
  attitudes	
  to	
  risk.	
  But	
  it	
  can	
  also	
  be	
  possible	
  to	
  clear	
  
rights,	
  and	
  clear	
  them	
  for	
  reuse	
  –	
  even	
  if	
  it	
  is	
  for	
  example	
  only	
  educational,	
  it’s	
  a	
  
start.	
  If	
  you	
  know	
  of	
  a	
  20th	
  century	
  artist	
  with	
  a	
  very	
  approachable	
  estate,	
  I	
  
would	
  encourage	
  you	
  to	
  approach	
  them.	
  In	
  order	
  to	
  continue	
  to	
  be	
  relevant	
  in	
  
the	
  digital	
  age,	
  it’s	
  important	
  to	
  start	
  filling	
  at	
  least	
  some	
  of	
  this	
  black	
  hole.	
  
	
  
I’d	
  like	
  to	
  remind	
  you	
  of	
  Michael	
  Peter	
  Edson’s	
  wonderful	
  tagline	
  ‘Think	
  big,	
  start	
  
small,	
  move	
  fast’.9	
  Even	
  if	
  you	
  can	
  only	
  make	
  a	
  small	
  showcase	
  selection	
  of	
  works	
  
available	
  right	
  now,	
  it	
  really	
  can	
  be	
  a	
  great	
  place	
  to	
  start.	
  So,	
  simply	
  put,	
  open	
  up	
  
what	
  you	
  can,	
  as	
  soon	
  as	
  you	
  can,	
  to	
  the	
  audiences	
  you	
  can	
  open	
  it	
  up	
  to,	
  as	
  
openly	
  as	
  you	
  can.	
  Just	
  like	
  Michael,	
  I	
  would	
  encourage	
  institutions	
  not	
  to	
  be	
  too	
  
daunted	
  or	
  put	
  off	
  by	
  the	
  fact	
  that	
  they	
  cannot	
  fully	
  dedicate	
  everything	
  to	
  the	
  
public	
  domain.	
  Look	
  at	
  what	
  is	
  possible,	
  and	
  open	
  up	
  in	
  a	
  layered	
  manner,	
  bit	
  by	
  
bit.	
  It	
  is	
  far	
  better	
  than	
  simply	
  doing	
  nothing.	
  
	
  
In	
  the	
  anthology	
  that	
  was	
  published	
  after	
  previous	
  Sharing	
  is	
  Caring	
  seminars,	
  
Jill	
  Cousins	
  wrote	
  about	
  building	
  a	
  commons	
  for	
  digital	
  cultural	
  heritage.10	
  As	
  
director	
  of	
  Europeana,	
  she	
  made	
  the	
  scope	
  of	
  her	
  essay	
  mostly	
  about	
  the	
  role	
  of	
  
Europeana	
  within	
  a	
  cultural	
  commons,	
  but	
  she	
  also	
  stresses	
  the	
  responsibility	
  of	
  
all	
  of	
  us.	
  I	
  would	
  like	
  to	
  believe	
  that	
  it	
  is	
  possible	
  to	
  move	
  towards	
  such	
  a	
  model,	
  
and	
  I	
  hope	
  this	
  essay	
  has	
  encouraged	
  the	
  reader	
  to	
  think	
  about	
  what	
  this	
  may	
  
mean.	
  Initiatives	
  such	
  as	
  Europeana	
  can	
  play	
  a	
  crucial	
  role,	
  but	
  aside	
  from	
  that,	
  
every	
  small-­‐scale	
  initiative	
  –	
  every	
  single	
  time	
  something	
  is	
  made	
  available	
  for	
  
reuse	
  to	
  someone	
  –	
  can	
  help	
  to	
  build	
  and	
  maintain	
  these	
  wonderful	
  resources	
  we	
  
all	
  benefit	
  from.	
  Everything	
  that	
  is	
  made	
  and	
  created	
  from	
  our	
  commons	
  can	
  
become	
  part	
  of	
  the	
  commons	
  as	
  well.	
  	
  
	
  
I	
  ended	
  my	
  talk	
  with	
  showing	
  a	
  photograph	
  I	
  took	
  on	
  holiday,	
  of	
  a	
  beautiful	
  
wooden	
  walkway	
  through	
  the	
  dunes	
  towards	
  a	
  beach.	
  I	
  believe	
  there	
  are	
  no	
  
monsters	
  at	
  the	
  end	
  of	
  the	
  tempting	
  path	
  that	
  lies	
  ahead	
  of	
  cultural	
  institutions,	
  
and	
  I	
  would	
  encourage	
  you	
  all	
  to	
  consider	
  taking	
  it.	
  
	
  
	
   	
  

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Essay for Sharing is Caring - Eva Van Passel

  • 1.   1   How  open  is  open  enough?     A  philosophy  of  cultural  commons  for  the  cultural  heritage  sector.     Eva  Van  Passel   (Researcher  at  iMinds-­‐SMIT,  Vrije  Universiteit  Brussel)     This  essay  is  based  on  my  keynote  talk  at  the  seminar  “Sharing  is  Caring:  Right  to  Remix?”,   which  was  held  in  Copenhagen  on  2  October  2015.  The  essay  has  been  adapted  somewhat,   mainly  to  enable  it  to  be  read  outside  of  the  direct  context  of  the  seminar.  The  reader  is   advised  to  keep  in  mind  that  the  talk  this  essay  is  based  on  addressed  the  cultural  sector  as   its  main  audience.  As  such,  the  essay  is  not  intended  to  be  an  academic  research  article.   However,  references  to  more  detailed  academic  accounts  of  some  of  the  issues  discussed   have  been  included,  and  the  author  can  be  contacted  at  eva.van.passel@vub.ac.be  or  at   https://www.linkedin.com/in/evavanpassel.         Introduction     Cultural  heritage  institutions  are  redefining  their  roles  in  a  context  of  digital   access  to  culture.  They  are  finding  themselves  in  a  world  where  they  don’t  just   have  visitors;  they  have  users,  learners,  makers,  and  online  experience  seekers.   Digital  engagement  is  such  an  important  part  of  many  of  these  users’  lives.  A  key   question  many  institutions  in  the  GLAM  sector  are  dealing  with  is:  how  can  we,  as   a  cultural  sector,  get  involved  in  this  all,  and  do  this  in  a  meaningful  manner?  The   challenge  will  be  to  ensure  that  the  mission  of  the  cultural  sector  as  a  whole   includes  room  for  engagement,  interaction  and  co-­‐creation.  In  this  essay,  I  do  not   wish  to  expand  on  this  context  further,  though  I  have  done  so  in  previous   articles.1  Instead,  I  would  mainly  wish  to  focus  on  some  insights  and  thoughts  on   strategies  cultural  institutions  might  like  to  consider  within  this  context,  based   on  my  experiences  as  a  researcher,  and  my  collaborations  with  practitioners  and   policy  makers  from  the  sectors  of  cultural  heritage  and  the  arts.       I  started  as  a  researcher  at  iMinds-­‐SMIT  at  the  Vrije  Universiteit  Brussel  in  2007,   and  I  have  worked  with  the  cultural  sector  for  many  years  now.  My  first   encounters  with  arts  and  heritage  institutions  were  all  within  Flanders   (Belgium).  I  have  been  involved  in  a  few  consecutive  research  projects  on  the   topic  of  joint  digitisation  of  collections  of  a  variety  of  institutions,  including  a   focus  on  financing  models,  the  issue  of  long-­‐term  preservation,  and  crucially  the   challenges  related  to  making  those  digitised  collections  available  to  a  variety  of   audiences.  My  focus  was  never  on  the  technical  or  the  legal  (copyright)  aspects,   but  on  the  strategic  and  policy  challenges  that  these  evolutions  create  for   institutions  and  the  people  working  within  them.  From  that  Flemish  context,  I   then  moved  on  to  a  wider  European  context.  iMinds-­‐SMIT  was  involved  in  one  of   the  projects  aggregating  content  for  Europeana,  of  which  there  have  been  many   over  the  years.  Again,  I  focused  on  ‘the  strategic  stuff’  within  this  project,  and  the   requirements  of  institutions.  In  parallel  with  this,  I  also  worked  on  a  small-­‐scale   research  project  with  a  contemporary  artist.  This  paragraph  is  not  merely   intended  as  a  biographical  note,  but  as  a  sketch  of  the  context  in  which  my  views   on  the  challenges  facing  the  sector  have  taken  shape.  The  first  section  of  this   essay  will  elaborate  further  on  these  research  experiences.  
  • 2.   2     Fictional  institutions  and  institutional  frictions     The  project  Europeana  Inside  was  a  Best  Practice  Network  committed  to   reducing  and  removing  barriers  to  participation  in  Europeana  at  several  levels,   organisational,  legal,  technical  and  financial.2  However,  the  open  licensing  of   metadata  was  not  really  seen  as  a  barrier  in  the  early  stages  of  the  project.   During  one  of  the  early  meetings,  the  project  manager  in  fact  pointed  out  that  all   the  institutions  that  had  joined  the  project  had  fully  committed  to  open  data.   This  was  presumed  to  be  the  case,  as  Europeana’s  Data  Exchange  Agreement   (DEA)  implied  that  providers  have  to  authorise  the  publication  of  all  metadata   under  the  Creative  Commons  Universal  Public  Domain  Dedication  (CC0).  All   institutions  present  at  the  meeting  had  indeed  signed  up  to  the  project  and  as   such  to  the  principle  of  making  content  and  metadata  available  through   Europeana.  However,  when  they  were  being  confronted  with  the  implications  in   practice,  it  turned  out  some  of  them  were  suddenly  starting  to  reconsider  this   commitment  to  open  data,  and  to  think  carefully  about  what  they  wanted  to   share.  For  example,  many  museums  didn’t  want  to  share  the  full  scientific   descriptions  their  curators  wrote  about  certain  works  under  the  specific  CC0   conditions  of  the  DEA.3     So  while  from  Europeana’s  point  of  view,  it  made  a  lot  of  sense  to  try  and   streamline  the  metadata  they  aggregate  as  much  as  possible,  the  project   illustrated  that  a  one  size  fits  all  approach  can  be  scary  for  many,  and  that  needs   of  diverse  institutions  can  differ  widely.  I  am  glad  to  say  that  Europeana  was   always  available  to  listen  to  our  concerns,  and  by  means  of  their  recent   publishing  framework,  they  are  offering  a  lot  of  flexibility  and  guidance  when  it   comes  to  different  licensing  options  to  share  collection  items.4  The  reluctance   noted  in  Europeana  Inside  did  not  necessarily  mean  that  the  participating   institutions  were  not  willing  to  share  and  open  up.  In  many  cases,  they  were  very   positive  towards  the  idea,  but  they  were  simply  not  ready  to  do  so  to  the  extent   that  the  license  required.       In  parallel  to  Europeana  Inside,  I  also  started  working  with  the  filmmaker  and   contemporary  artist  called  Jasper  Rigole  on  a  small  research  project,  within  the   context  of  the  Art&D  programme  of  iMinds.5  Jasper  collects  8mm  films  that  he   finds  at  flea  markets,  so  mostly  home  movies,  and  remixes  and  reimagines  them   to  his  own  beautiful  and  often  nostalgic  works  of  art.    He  has  been  collecting   these  found  reels  of  tape  for  many  years,  and  based  on  this  collection,  he  has   founded  his  own  fictional  cultural  institute,  the  International  Institute  for  the   Conservation,  Archiving  and  Distribution  of  other  People’s  Memories  (IICADOM).   As  you  can  perhaps  tell  by  the  name,  it  was  started  somewhat  ironically,  and  it   involved  criticism  on  some  memory  institutions’  more  archaic  and  bureaucratic   tendencies.  However,  over  the  years  it  has  grown  to  the  extent  that  it  has   surpassed  fiction  and  has  become  a  veritable  archive.  Together  with  Jasper,  I   wrote  an  article  about  the  lessons  real  institutions  can  learn  from  this  example   from  fiction  –  the  title  of  this  section  of  the  essay,  ‘fictional  institutions  and   institutional  frictions’,  was  also  part  of  this  article’s  title.  6    
  • 3.   3   A  big  distinctive  factor  of  IICADOM  is  of  course  that  as  a  ‘fake’  or  ‘fictional’   institution,  it  is  not  accountable  to  the  government,  to  its  users  or  to  an  authentic   preservation  of  the  past.  This  offers  some  opportunities,  but  it  also  means   Jasper’s  work  doesn’t  fall  under  a  lot  of  the  exceptions  to  copyright  that  cultural   institutions  can  benefit  from.  In  a  sense,  he  is  therefore  confronted  with  less  risk   –  due  to  the  lack  of  accountability  –  as  well  as  more  risk  –  due  to  the  lack  of   protective  exceptions.  His  collection  is  by  default  all  found  footage,  so  it’s  a   collection  of  only  orphaned  works.  There  is  no  easy  way  to  even  start  doing  a   diligent  search  for  rights  holders  of  reels  of  films  you  find  at  flea  markets,  so   there  is  still  some  risk  attached  to  using  the  footage.  Jasper  made  a  large   selection  of  footage  available  to  download  through  the  platform   https://archive.org/  under  a  Creative  Commons  license.  As  these  are  orphan   works  and  he  is  not  actually  the  rightsholder,  this  entails  a  certain  level  of  risk.   For  cultural  institutions,  lessons  can  perhaps  be  learned  on  attitudes  to  risk.  It  is   not  a  risk  free  approach,  but  I  believe  it  to  be  a  low  risk  strategy.  It  might  be  an   interesting  thought  exercise  to  just  consider  what  is  possible  at  a  low  risk  level.       Another  lesson  to  be  learned  is  that,  as  can  be  noted  from  the  example  of   archive.org,  IICADOM  interacts  with  existing  external  platforms.  This  remains  a   solid  recommendation  as  a  way  forward  to  memory  institutions  as  well:  find  the   users  where  they  are,  don’t  just  expect  them  to  come  and  find  you.  This  is   definitely  something  that  even  a  portal  the  size  of  Europeana  has  started  to  focus   on  more  and  more  over  the  years,  and  it  is  worth  repeating.  Finally,  on  his  own   website,  Jasper  also  wanted  to  create  mechanisms  for  creative  reuse  of  the   footage.  His  idea  was  to  set  up  a  section  on  the  website  where  users  could  adopt   memories,  interact  with  them,  base  new  works  on  them,  and  truly  make  them   their  own.  So  IICADOM  is  not  only  about  allowing  creative  reuse,  via  downloads   on  archive.org,  but  also  about  fostering  and  encouraging  it.  In  the  paper  we   wrote,  all  of  these  lessons  were  then  contrasted  with  some  of  the  more  reluctant   and  risk-­‐averse  attitudes  to  openness  that  I  have  encountered  at  a  lot  of  cultural   institutions  during  my  research,  certainly  not  only  within  Europeana  Inside,  but   also  notably  in  the  local  context  of  Flanders,  Belgium.     Towards  a  philosophy  of  cultural  commons     In  the  previous  section  of  this  essay,  I  explained  some  of  my  research  findings   from  the  last  few  years,  and  the  perspectives  I  gained  on  what  is  going  on  in  the   sector.  This  is  not  just  for  the  sake  of  talking  about  the  research,  but  it  illustrates,   in  my  view,  why  we  might  need  more  of  a  framework  to  deal  with  all  of  these   challenges,  this  philosophy  of  cultural  commons.  My  main  feeling  is  that  there   are  so  many  ad  hoc  challenges  crossing  the  path  of  cultural  institutions.  They  all   have  to  focus  on  the  latest  thing  or  the  newest  trend  –  sometimes  it’s  open   metadata,  openly  licensed  content,  APIs,  or  it  might  be  ideas  such  as  ‘we  must  be   on  Pinterest’,  ‘we  need  to  be  on  Instagram’,  ‘Tumblr  is  where  it’s  at  right  now’.   With  all  of  these  trends  that  institutions  are  faced  with,  for  which  they  have  to   come  up  with  an  approach  on  the  spot,  it’s  hard  to  know  where  to  start.  There   has  to  be  a  better  way.      
  • 4.   4   This  is  why  we  considered  it  would  be  useful  to  move  towards  a  framework,  a   philosophy  that  takes  more  of  an  overarching  view,  and  as  such  can  be  much   more  about  the  missions  of  institutions  than  about  just  dealing  with  the  latest   trend.  To  stress  this  point  even  further,  I  would  like  to  show  this  wonderful  chart   made  by  Andrea  Wallace,  who  works  at  CREATe  Research  Centre  in  the  UK.  It   shows  a  number  of  institutions  in  the  UK  (each  row  is  one  institution),  and  what   they  allow,  or  do  not  allow,  their  visitors  or  users  to  do,  both  during  a  visit  or   with  content  they  might  find  on  the  website  (each  column  is  something  which   users  might  like  to  do).  It  immediately  and  very  visually  shows  that  institutions   often  take  different  approaches  to  opening  up.  She  used  this  chart  in  a  recent   presentation  on  surrogate  rights  many  institutions  create  for  themselves,  when   they  decide  to  make  available  works  that  are  in  the  public  domain.  In  my  view,   this  idea  of  surrogate  rights  illustrates  very  well  why  we  might  want  to  consider   a  wider  framework  for  sharing  and  opening  up,  and  why  cultural  commons  may   be  such  a  useful  approach.         I’ve  been  working  on  this  idea  together  with  two  colleagues  from  the  field  of   cultural  policy  in  Flanders,  not  within  a  research  project,  but  for  the  purposes  of   a  paper  we  wrote  together  for  a  conference.  This  paper  was  mostly  based  on  all   of  our  experiences  with  the  sector,  and  on  a  thought  exercise  to  try  and  make   sense  of  it  all  (van  der  Linden,  Van  Passel  &  Driesen,  2014).7  We  hope  to  be  able   to  build  on  this  further  in  research,  policy  and  practice  in  the  future.  We  are  by   no  means  the  first  to  consider  cultural  commons  as  an  option  for  the  cultural   heritage  sector.  We  wanted  to  further  our  thoughts  on  the  approach,  with  the  
  • 5.   5   aim  of  coming  up  with  something  that  might  be  useful  for  policy  as  well  as   practice.  For  this,  and  in  the  paper  we  wrote,  we  looked  at  the  model  of   constructed  cultural  commons,  as  it  was  developed  by  Michael  Madison,  Brett   Frischmann  &  Katherine  Strandburg  (2010).  First,  it’s  worth  pointing  out  some   of  the  guiding  principles  behind  our  thoughts,  which  are  cultural  principles  at   heart  –  principles  I  believe  the  cultural  sector  can  get  behind,  and  which  should   underpin  a  cultural  commons  approach.8  Culture,  also  in  digital  form,  has   intrinsic  value.  Users  should  therefore  have  the  right  to  sustainable  access  to   these  valuable  assets  –  now  as  well  as  in  the  future  –  and  the  offer  needs  to  be   varied  and  inclusive.  The  latter,  inclusiveness,  in  the  context  of  this  essay   certainly  implies  that  focusing  only  on  public  domain  content  is  not  enough.   Openness  and  opening  up  is  really  not  only  a  principle  in  itself,  but  also  a  way  to   make  sure  the  other  guiding  principles  are  supported.     Madison  and  his  colleagues  break  the  approach  of  constructed  cultural  commons   down  into  some  key  factors.  In  my  talk  at  Sharing  is  Caring,  and  also  in  this  essay,   I  tried  to  steer  away  form  a  heavily  theoretical  approach.  A  crucial  thing  to  point   out  is  that  the  model  was  built  as  a  framework  to  analyse  cultural  commons,  but   that  we  tried  to  look  at  the  cultural  commons  framework  not  only  as  a  tool  for   research,  but  also  as  an  underlying  philosophy  for  cultural  policy  and   governance.  In  looking  at  cultural  commons,  Madison  et  al.  (2010,  pp.  688-­‐704)   propose  to  analyse  4  main  factors:  resources  and  community;  goals  and   objectives;  degrees  of  openness;  and  governance.  What  we  tried  to  do  is  look  at   these  factors  as  key  points  that  the  cultural  sector,  even  on  an  institutional  level,   can  think  about  to  build  a  cultural  commons.  Again,  the  paper  we  wrote  does  this   in  a  lot  more  detail  and  with  a  lot  more  references  than  I  want  to  burden  you   with  in  this  essay.       First,  it  might  be  fruitful  to  simply  take  a  moment  to  consider  what  our  resources   are,  and  who  our  community  is.  Of  course,  if  we  look  at  the  sector  as  a  whole,  this   is  almost  endless,  but  you  can  also  look  at  this  from  your  own  institution’s  point   of  view  as  well.  Who  are  your  users,  what  are  their  expectations,  and  what  can   you  offer  them  in  terms  of  cultural  resources?  The  goals  and  objectives  then,  in  a   simplified  and  general  manner,  might  simply  be  to  give  access  to  culture  to  as   many  people  as  possible.  In  an  age  of  (re)users  and  makers,  this  should  include   to  be  as  open  as  possible,  including  towards  reuse  and  remix  practices.  How   open  this  is,  however,  might  change  depending  on  specific  user  communities,   and  it  can  also  be  different  depending  on  the  content  being  shared.  This  is  where   the  model  really  shines:  it  allows  and  expects  different  degrees  of  openness.  An   approach  like  this  is  very  much  present  in  a  tool  such  as  the  Creative  Commons   licenses,  which  you  can  really  pick  and  choose  from  with  the  goal  of  being  more   or  less  open.  These  degrees  of  openness  are  part  of  the  reason  why  cultural   commons  need  governance.  This  is  not  only  to  be  understood  in  a  restrictive   way,  as  in  rules  that  tell  us  who  can  do  what,  but  especially  also  in  terms  of   guidance,  in  terms  of  making  sure  the  community  understands  what  they  can  do   with  the  resources  made  available  to  them.          
  • 6.   6   And  in  practice?  Concluding  remarks  on  opening  up     I’d  like  to  end  with  what  this  can  mean  in  practice,  though  I  should  repeat  that   these  ideas  should  ideally  be  further  developed  in  research,  policy  and  practice.   This  is  nothing  earth-­‐shattering,  nothing  too  complicated,  nothing  perhaps   altogether  new,  but  these  are  things  that  merit  repeating.     The  first  point  is,  please  beware  of  the  black  hole  of  the  20th  century.  Public   domain  stuff  is  the  easiest  stuff,  at  least  from  a  licensing  point  of  view.  Newly   created  stuff  can  sometimes  be  given  more  internet-­‐appropriate  licensing,  for   example  through  Creative  Commons,  or  at  least  the  contracts  institutions  sign   now  with  rights  holders  can  take  the  digital  realm  into  account.  But  all  the  stuff   in-­‐between  is  hard  work.  However,  that  really  shouldn’t  mean  it  should  just  be   ignored.  Orphan  works  legislation  might  make  some  of  it  easier,  and  there  I’d   like  to  recall  the  idea  of  attitudes  to  risk.  But  it  can  also  be  possible  to  clear   rights,  and  clear  them  for  reuse  –  even  if  it  is  for  example  only  educational,  it’s  a   start.  If  you  know  of  a  20th  century  artist  with  a  very  approachable  estate,  I   would  encourage  you  to  approach  them.  In  order  to  continue  to  be  relevant  in   the  digital  age,  it’s  important  to  start  filling  at  least  some  of  this  black  hole.     I’d  like  to  remind  you  of  Michael  Peter  Edson’s  wonderful  tagline  ‘Think  big,  start   small,  move  fast’.9  Even  if  you  can  only  make  a  small  showcase  selection  of  works   available  right  now,  it  really  can  be  a  great  place  to  start.  So,  simply  put,  open  up   what  you  can,  as  soon  as  you  can,  to  the  audiences  you  can  open  it  up  to,  as   openly  as  you  can.  Just  like  Michael,  I  would  encourage  institutions  not  to  be  too   daunted  or  put  off  by  the  fact  that  they  cannot  fully  dedicate  everything  to  the   public  domain.  Look  at  what  is  possible,  and  open  up  in  a  layered  manner,  bit  by   bit.  It  is  far  better  than  simply  doing  nothing.     In  the  anthology  that  was  published  after  previous  Sharing  is  Caring  seminars,   Jill  Cousins  wrote  about  building  a  commons  for  digital  cultural  heritage.10  As   director  of  Europeana,  she  made  the  scope  of  her  essay  mostly  about  the  role  of   Europeana  within  a  cultural  commons,  but  she  also  stresses  the  responsibility  of   all  of  us.  I  would  like  to  believe  that  it  is  possible  to  move  towards  such  a  model,   and  I  hope  this  essay  has  encouraged  the  reader  to  think  about  what  this  may   mean.  Initiatives  such  as  Europeana  can  play  a  crucial  role,  but  aside  from  that,   every  small-­‐scale  initiative  –  every  single  time  something  is  made  available  for   reuse  to  someone  –  can  help  to  build  and  maintain  these  wonderful  resources  we   all  benefit  from.  Everything  that  is  made  and  created  from  our  commons  can   become  part  of  the  commons  as  well.       I  ended  my  talk  with  showing  a  photograph  I  took  on  holiday,  of  a  beautiful   wooden  walkway  through  the  dunes  towards  a  beach.  I  believe  there  are  no   monsters  at  the  end  of  the  tempting  path  that  lies  ahead  of  cultural  institutions,   and  I  would  encourage  you  all  to  consider  taking  it.        
  • 7.   7   Notes     1. For  example,  in  Van  Passel  &  Rigole  (2014),  we  included  a  brief  section  on  the  participation   paradigm  and  the  movement  towards  open  GLAMs  as  a  recent  incarnation  of  the  changing   institutional  paradigm.   2. The  project  ran  from  April  2012  to  September  2014.  The  project’s  website  is  still  available  at   http://www.europeana-­‐inside.eu/home/index.html.   Europeana  Inside  was  coordinated  by  Collections  Trust  and  co-­‐funded  by  the  European   Union  under  the  ICT  Policy  Support  Programme  part  of  the  Competitiveness  and  Innovation   Framework  Programme  [grant  number  297292].     3. Europeana  Inside  is  not  the  first  project  in  which  this  reluctance  was  noted.  In  the  projects   Athena  and  Linked  Heritage,  for  example,  the  DEA  introduction  already  had  a  large  impact,   as  many  museums  did  not  agree  with  being  required  to  allow  commercial  reuse  through  this   CC0  license  (Vassallo  and  Piccininno  2012).     4. Harry  Verwayen,  deputy  director  of  Europeana  and  moderator  at  Sharing  is  Caring,  showed  a   video  that  clearly  illustrates  the  licensing  choices  and  their  implications:   https://vimeo.com/138177046.   5. The  interdisciplinary  artistic  research  project,  Addenda,  took  place  within  the  Art&D   framework,  co-­‐funded  by  iMinds,  a  research  institute  founded  by  the  Flemish  Government.   Its  project  partners  were  the  artist  Jasper  Rigole,  iMinds  (iLab.o  and  iMinds-­‐SMIT,  Vrije   Universiteit  Brussel),  and  Rekall  Design.     6. For  a  full  and  detailed  account  of  these  lessons  learned,  I’d  like  to  refer  you  to  the  paper  itself   (Van  Passel  &  Rigole,  2014).     7. This  paper  (van  der  Linden,  Van  Passel  &  Driesen,  2014)  forms  the  basis  of  a  big  part  of  this   essay,  but  is  much  more  theoretical  in  scope.  It  can  be  found  at   http://iasckc.nyuengelberg.org/s/Hans-­‐van-­‐der-­‐Linden-­‐Eva-­‐Van-­‐Passel-­‐Leen-­‐Driesen.pdf     8. With  regards  to  these  principles,  we  addressed  the  fact  that a  lot  of  initiatives  encouraging   institutions  to  open  up  emerge  more  from  a  context  of  EU  innovation  policy,  with  economic   and  competitive  connotations,  and  have  perhaps  for  this  reason  engendered  certain   controversies  in  the  cultural  sector.  This  essay  does  not  dwell  on  that  distinction,  but  in  this   endnote,  I’d  like  to  paraphrase  some  of  the  discussion  as  we  described  in  in  our  paper  (van   der  Linden,  Van  Passel  &  Driesen,  2014).  The  ‘economic  innovation  flavour’  is  applicable  to   some  extent  to  the  DEA,  which  takes  a  creative  industries  approach  towards  creative   industries,  but  it  is  certainly  seen  to  be  the  case  with  regards  to  the  implementation  of  the   new  version  of  the  Public  Sector  Information  Directive  (Directive  2013/37/EU).  Bottom-­‐up   OpenGLAM  tendencies  may  be  similar  in  approach,  but  they  may  very  well  be  based  on  very   different  motivations  and  principles.  Choosing  which  angle  to  take  in  the  long-­‐  standing   debate  on  the  balance  between  cultural  principles  and  economic  principles,  on  public  and   cultural  value  as  opposed  to  mere  economic  value  (see  e.g.  Holden,  2004;  Throsby,  2011)   may  well  impact  institutional  willingness  to  open  up.  The  principles  behind  a  cultural   commons  approach  are  only  very  briefly  discussed  in  this  essay,  but  in  the  paper  I  refer  to,   we  explored  to  which  extent  more  ‘intrinsically  cultural’  basis  could  be  used  to  motivate  the   commons.  We  looked  for  example  at  the  Framework  Convention  on  the  Value  of  Cultural   Heritage  for  Society  (the  FARO-­‐Convention;  Council  of  Europe,  2005),  UNESCO’s  Vancouver   Declaration  (2012)  and  the  UNESCO  Convention  on  the  Protection  and  Promotion  of  the   Diversity  of  Cultural  Expressions  (2005).   9. A  great  summary  of  what  this  means  can  be  found  here:   http://dysartjones.com/2012/03/think-­‐big-­‐start-­‐small-­‐move-­‐fast/  Michael  Peter  Edson  has   also  contributed  an  energising  essay  –  simply  entitled  ‘Boom’  –  to  the  Sharing  is  Caring   anthology  (Edson,  2014).   10. The  principles  outlined  in  this  essay  for  a  cultural  commons  are  slightly  different  than  the   ones  we’ve  put  forward  in  our  own  paper  (Cousins,  2014).            
  • 8.   8   References     Council  of  Europe  (2005).  Framework  Convention  on  the  Value  of  Cultural  Heritage  for  Society.   Faro,  27.X.2005       Cousins,  J.  (2014).  Building  a  commons  for  digital  cultural  heritage.  In  M.  Sanderhoff  (Ed.),   Sharing  is  Caring,  Openness  and  sharing  in  the  cultural  heritage  sector  (pp.  132-­‐140).  Copenhagen:   Statens  Museum  for  Kunst.       Edson,  M.  P.  (2014).  Boom.  In  M.  Sanderhoff  (Ed.),  Sharing  is  Caring,  Openness  and  sharing  in  the   cultural  heritage  sector  (pp.  12-­‐19).  Copenhagen:  Statens  Museum  for  Kunst.       Holden,  J.  (2004).  Capturing  Cultural  Value.  London:  Demos.       Madison,  M.  J.,  Frischmann,  B.  M.,  Strandburg,  K.  J.  (2010).  Constructing  Commons  in  the  Cultural   Environment.  Cornell  Law  Review,  95  (4),  657-­‐709.       Throsby,  D.  (2001).  Economics  and  Culture.  Cambridge:  Cambridge  University  Press.       UNESCO  (2005).  Convention  on  the  Protection  and  Promotion  of  the  Diversity  of  Cultural   Expressions.  20  October  2005.  Paris:  UNESCO.       UNESCO  (2012).  Vancouver  declaration.  The  Memory  of  the  World  in  the  Digital  Age:  Digitization   and  Preservation.  26  to  28  December  2012.  Vancouver:  UNESCO.       van  der  Linden,  H.,  Van  Passel,  E.,  &  Driesen,  L.  (2014).  Towards  a  Cultural  Commons  Approach   as  a  Framework  for  Cultural  Policy  and  Practice  in  a  Network  Society.  Paper  presented  at  the  2nd   Thematic  Conference  on  Knowledge  Commons,  5-­‐6  September  2014,  New  York,  USA.       Van  Passel,  E.,  &  Rigole,  J.  (2014).  Fictional  Institutions  and  Institutional  Frictions:  Creative   Approaches  to  Open  GLAMs.  Digital  Creativity,  25  (3),  203-­‐211.  DOI:   10.1080/14626268.2014.904363       Vassallo,  V.,    &  Piccininno,  M.  2012.  “Aggregating  Content  for  Europeana:  A  Workflow  to  Support   Content  Providers.”  In  TPDL  2012.  LNCS,  vol.  7489,  edited  by  P.  Zaphiris,  G.  Buchanan,  E.   Rasmussen,  and  F.  Loizides,  445–454.  Heidelberg:  Springer.         Biography     Eva  Van  Passel  has  been  a  researcher  at  iMinds-­‐  SMIT,  Vrije  Universiteit  Brussel,  since  2007.   Broadly  speaking,  Eva’s  research  interests  include  the  many  challenges  and  opportunities  for  arts   and  heritage  in  a  networked  society,  but  her  research  mainly  focuses  on  the  changing  roles  of   cultural  (heritage)  institutions  in  the  context  of  digitisation,  digital  preservation,  and  distribution   and  sustainable  digital  access.  Topics  under  scrutiny  over  the  years  have  included  strategic   challenges  for  cultural  institutions,  digital  cultural  policy,  audience  strategies,  business  models,  the   European  digital  library  Europeana,  open  cultural  data  and  open  GLAM  initiatives,  and  financing   models  for  digital  cultural  heritage.  Eva  holds  Masters  degrees  in  Communication  and  Media   Studies  and  in  Film  Studies  and  Visual  Culture.         Suggested  reference     Van  Passel,  E.  (2015).  ‘How  open  is  open  enough?  A  philosophy  of  cultural  commons  for  the   cultural  heritage  sector.’  Essay  written  for  “Sharing  is  Caring:  Right  to  Remix?”,  Copenhagen,  2   October  2015.