Europeana

Rijksmuseum case study: Sharing free, high quality images without restrictions makes good things happen

Timothy Vollmer, July 30th, 2014

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Girl in white kimono, George Hendrik Breitner, 1894; CC0

Yesterday Europeana published a great case study documenting the experiences of the Dutch Rijksmuseum in opening up access to their collection of digital public domain images. The case study was written by Joris Pekel, community coordinator for cultural heritage at the Europeana Foundation. Over the last few years, Europeana has worked with the Rijksmuseum in order to make available at the highest quality possible images of public domain artworks held by the museum.

The report discusses the Rijksmuseum’s initial apprehension to sharing these high quality images of public domain works. The museum originally planned to share the digital reproductions of public domain works under an open license, such as the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). But after some convincing by organizations that advocate for unrestricted access to the public domain, the Rijksmuseum began to open its collections more by choosing to use the CC0 Public Domain Dedication for the digital reproductions.

The Rijksmuseum began to experiment with how it would offer high quality reproductions of the public domain artworks. The museum adopted a mission-driven approach, and staff understood the opportunity to showcase the best of the museum’s collection as a promotional tool. The marketing department argued that “…The core goal of the museum is to get the collection out and known to the public as much as possible…[and] the digital reproduction of an item would pique public interest in it, leading them to buy tickets to the museum to see the real deal.” The Rijksmuseum also realized that by releasing high quality digital reproductions of works out of copyright, it could help educate the public by providing true-color images and accurate metadata about the works.

Instead of worrying that making available high quality digital reproductions of public domain artwork for free would destroy a piece of the museum’s revenue stream, the Rijksmuseum initially adopted a hybrid approach. They made images available in two sizes: .jpg images at approximately 4500×4500 pixels were free, while the huge 200MB master .tiff files were made available for €40. The museum saw a steady increase in revenue from image sales, but eventually decided to discontinue the tiered offerings. Since October 2013 the Rijksmuseum has been releasing their highest quality images for free.

The Rijksmuseum has found a way to support broad access to its rich collection of cultural heritage resources. And it’s done so in such as way that promotes interest by new audiences, recuperates costs, and upholds the principles of supporting unrestricted access to the digital public domain.

Take a look at the full case study.

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#cc10 Featured Platform: Europeana

Elliot Harmon, December 10th, 2012

Throughout the #cc10 celebrations, we’re highlighting different CC-enabled media platforms, to show the breadth and diversity of the CC world. Today, as we’re talking about governmental and institutional adoption of CC tools, it seemed appropriate to discuss Europeana, the massive digital library of European history and culture.

For people who get excited about open cultural data, one of the most exciting moments of 2012 came in September, when Europeana announced that it was releasing its metadata to the public domain under the CC0 waiver. This release of 20 million records represents one of the largest one-time dedications of cultural data to the public domain.

While the data was previously available through the Europeana website, dedicating it to the public domain multiplies its usability. From the press release:

This release, which is by far the largest one-time dedication of cultural data to the public domain using CC0 offers a new boost to the digital economy, providing electronic entrepreneurs with opportunities to create innovative apps and games for tablets and smartphones and to create new web services and portals.

Europeana’s move to CC0 is a step change in open data access. Releasing data from across the memory organisations of every EU country sets an important new international precedent, a decisive move away from the world of closed and controlled data.

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Europeana releases 20 million records into the public domain using CC0

Timothy Vollmer, September 12th, 2012

This week marks a momentous occasion, as Europeana — Europe’s digital library — has released 20 million records into the public domain using the CC0 Public Domain Dedication. This release is the largest one-time dedication of cultural data to the public domain using CC0. The Europeana dataset consists of descriptive information from a huge trove of digitized cultural and artistic works. Now, per the Europeana Terms of Use, “all metadata (textual information on digitised cultural heritage) on the site are published without any restrictions on re-use.” The public domain data can be useful for cultural institutions, researchers, and application developers. By removing all copyright restrictions from the data, Europeana helps to promote innovation and economic activity. From the press release:

Importantly, the change represents a valuable contribution to the European Commission’s agenda to drive growth through digital innovation. Online open data is a core resource which can fuel enterprise and create opportunities for millions of Europeans working in Europe’s cultural and creative industries. The sector represents 3.3% of EU GDP and is worth over €150 billion in exports.

Europeana’s announcement was praised by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, who said:

Open data is such a powerful idea, and Europeana is such a cultural asset, that only good things can result from the marriage of the two. People often speak about closing the digital divide and opening up culture to new audiences but very few can claim such a big contribution to those efforts as Europeana’s shift to creative commons.

The Creative Commons Affiliate teams in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, through partner organizations Institute for Information Law (IViR), Kennisland, and the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg provided expert support to Europeana during this process. Europeana has been at the forefront of exploring ways to share the European cultural record. They are one of the first adopters of CC’s Public Domain Mark and continue to support a vibrant, healthy public domain.

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Europeana Licensing Framework published

Jane Park, December 2nd, 2011

Yesterday, Europeana — Europe’s digital library, museum and archive, and the first major adopter of the Public Domain Mark for works in the worldwide public domain — published and made available The Europeana Licensing Framework using the CC0 public domain dedication. The licensing framework encompasses and is a follow-on to the recent Data Exchange Agreement that Europeana adopted in September, and which Europe’s national librarians publicly supported weeks later.

In Europeana’s own words, the licensing framework “underpins Europeana’s Strategic Plan” for 2011-2015:

“The goal of the Europeana Licensing Framework is to standardize and harmonize rights-related information and practices. Its intention is to bring clarity to a complex area, and make transparent the relationship between the end-users and the institutions that provide data.”

“Users need good and reliable information about what they may do with [content]. Whether they can freely re-use it for their educational, creative or even commercial projects or not. The Europeana Licensing Framework therefore asks data providers to provide structured rights information in the metadata they provide about the content that is accessible through Europeana. Doing so makes it easier for users to filter content by the different re-use options they have – by ‘public domain’, for example and hence easier for users to comply with licensing terms.”

The framework supports re-use of data and content through CC legal tools (CC0 public domain dedication, the Public Domain Mark, and CC BY-SA), providing guidelines for their appropriate applications. Download the European Licensing Framework (pdf) or peruse the full set of resources at Europeana Connect.

Update

Relatedly, see Europeana’s white paper no. 2 published last month, The Problem of the Yellow Milkmaid: A Business Model Perspective on Open Metadata (pdf). The white paper “explore[s] in detail the risks and rewards of open data from different perspectives” after “extensive consultation with the heritage sector, including dozens of workshops.” It opens:

“‘The Milkmaid’, one of Johannes Vermeer’s most famous pieces, depicts a scene of a woman quietly pouring milk into a bowl. During a survey the Rijksmuseum discovered that there were over 10,000 copies of the image on the internet—mostly poor, yellowish reproductions1. As a result of all of these low-quality copies on the web, according to the Rijksmuseum, “people simply didn’t believe the postcards in our museum shop were showing the original painting. This was the trigger for us to put high-resolution images of the original work with open metadata on the web ourselves. Opening up our data is our best defence against the ‘yellow Milkmaid’.”

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Europe’s national librarians support opening up their data via CC0

Jane Park, October 4th, 2011

Following the exciting news of Europeana’s new data exchange agreement, which authorizes Europeana to release the metadata for millions of cultural works into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication, the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) voted to support the agreement in a meeting last week at the Royal Library of Denmark. CENL represents Europe’s national libraries and “is responsible for the massive collection of publications that represent the accumulated knowledge of Europe.” From the press release,

“It means that the datasets describing all the millions of books and texts ever published in Europe – the title, author, date, imprint, place of publication and so on, which exists in the vast library catalogues of Europe – will become increasingly accessible for anybody to re-use for whatever purpose they want.

Bruno Racine, new Chair of CENL and President of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and Dr. Elisabeth Niggemann, former Chair of CENL and Director of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, welcomed the leadership shown by CENL. Dr Niggemann said…‘Only in that way can society derive full social and economic benefit from the data that we’ve created to record Europe’s published output over the past 500 years. The best analogy is between bottled water and a water main. Rather than bottling it and branding it, we’re putting data on tap, so that everyone has free and open access, and can use it for whatever purpose they need.’”

Read more about Europeana’s Data Exchange Agreement.

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Europeana adopts new data exchange agreement, all metadata to be published under CC0

Diane Peters, September 22nd, 2011

Europeana — Europe’s digital library, museum and archive, and the first major adopter of the Public Domain Mark for works in the worldwide public domain — has adopted a new Data Exchange Agreement. The agreement, which data providers and aggregators will transition to by the end of 2011, authorizes Europeana to release the metadata for millions of cultural works into the public domain using the CC0 public domain dedication. All metadata for cultural works accessible via the Europeana portal, including previously-delivered metadata, will then be available for free and open re-use.

Additionally, the new agreement requires data providers to make best efforts to correctly identify content that is public domain as being public domain. Last October, Europeana announced plans to use the PDM as the standard mark for works free of known copyright that are shared via the Europeana portal, playing an important infrastructural role in the EU’s efforts to ensure that all works shared online are marked with rights information.

Europeana has also published non-binding Usage Guidelines that users of the metadata are asked to follow, including a specific request that users “actively acknowledge and give attribution to all the sources” of the metadata.

This is hugely exciting news for CC and open culture! Read more about the Data Exchange Agreement. Congratulations Europeana on your leadership!

Update: Europe’s national librarians support opening up their data via CC0

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Improving Access to the Public Domain: the Public Domain Mark

Diane Peters, October 11th, 2010

Today, Creative Commons announces the release of its Public Domain Mark, a tool that enables works free of known copyright restrictions to be labeled in a way that allows them to be easily discovered over the Internet. The Public Domain Mark, to be used for marking works already free of copyright, complements Creative Commons’ CC0 public domain dedication, which enables authors to relinquish their rights prior to the expiration of copyright.

“The Public Domain Mark is a further step on the path towards making the promise of a digital public domain a reality,” said Michael Carroll, a founding board member of Creative Commons and a law professor at American University.

Europeana—Europe’s digital library, museum and archive—is the first major adopter of the Public Domain Mark. Europeana estimates that by mid-2011, the Public Domain Mark will be used in connection with millions of out-of-copyright works made available through its portal.

“An important part of our mandate is to ensure that digitized works made available through Europeana are properly labeled with rights information, including when a work is free of known copyright restrictions so that teachers, students and others can freely use it in their work, changing it and remixing it as they wish,” noted Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana.

The Public Domain Mark in its current form is intended for use with works that are free of known copyright around the world, primarily old works that are beyond the reach of copyright in all jurisdictions. We have already started mapping the next phases of our public domain work, which will look at ways to identify and mark works that are in the public domain in a limited number of countries.

A final note about design. We took this opportunity to revise the CC0 deed, to align it more closely with the Public Domain Mark deed. We think the design changes will help everyone recognize the difference between our licenses, which apply to works restricted by copyright, and our public domain tools.

For more information, read the full press release.

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