A few days ago, the European Commission (EC) released a recommendation for a common data space for cultural heritage, which aims to “accelerate the digitization of all cultural heritage monuments and sites, objects and artefacts for future generations, to protect and preserve those at risk, and boost their reuse in domains such as education, sustainable tourism and cultural creative sectors.” Europeana, the European digital cultural platform, will serve as the basis for building this common data space. It will allow museums, galleries, libraries, and archives across Europe to share and reuse the digitized cultural heritage images, such as 3D models of historical sites and high quality scans of paintings, on the Europeana platform.
The recommendation encourages Member States to digitize by 2030 all monuments and sites that are at risk of degradation, and half of those highly frequented by tourists. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “We owe the preservation of our European cultural heritage to future generations. This requires building and deploying our own technological capabilities, empowering people and businesses to enjoy and make the most of this heritage. We must take advantage of the opportunities brought by artificial intelligence, data, and extended reality.” This last point was reinforced by the EC on Twitter: “3D, artificial intelligence or virtual reality can accelerate the digital transformation of the cultural sector.”
Creative Commons (CC) is eager to explore the recommendation and its potential to catalyze “open GLAM,” the set of ideals, principles and values promoting preservation, open access, sharing and reuse of cultural heritage around the world, in line with our organization’s value of global inclusivity and commitment to better sharing. As part of our Open GLAM Program, we strive to help create a regulatory environment that supports creativity, collaboration, and the sharing of creative works and cultural heritage, upholds user rights and enables a rich, robust and thriving public domain. The recommendation appears to be a step in the right direction.
The recommendation succeeds the 2011 Recommendation on the digitization and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation, which underwent review last year. Creative Commons had submitted comments to the consultation on the opportunities offered by digital technologies to the cultural heritage sector. We are thrilled to see many of our comments have found an echo in the new recommendation. Here’s a summary of what we pushed for:
- Digitization is essential to ensure access, sharing, use and reuse of cultural heritage
- Digitization is a fundamental component of cultural heritage preservation
- Creative Commons licenses and tools are standard and easy ways to communicate with users, a cultural heritage’s copyright status and use permissions
- The copyright system, notably through exceptions and limitations, must enable cultural heritage institutions to fulfill their missions
- Access and use of cultural heritage is also governed by ethical considerations that must be taken into account
- The implementation of the CDSM Directive must support cultural institutions
- There is a crucial need for training and capacity building on copyright and licensing issues in the cultural heritage sector
- Artificial intelligence can potentially offer many benefits for the cultural heritage sector
Our Open GLAM Program comes within the scope of our strategy for 2021-2025, whose central theme is better sharing, i.e. sharing that is contextual, ethical, inclusive, sustainable, purposeful and prosocial. We look forward to following the development and implementation of the recommendation, and will endeavor to put our tools for accessing, using, and resharing cultural heritage in the hands of all to build a brighter future for everyone, everywhere.