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Harvard Library lifts copyright restrictions on public domain works

Lieke Ploeger - October 23, 2014 in Featured, News

oaweek2014-600x60As part of the international Open Access Week (20-26 October), Harvard Library shared great news on their new policy on the use of digital reproductions of public domain works. From now on, the library will make such reproductions openly available online and treat them as objects in the public domain. This means that users will be able to reuse this content in any way they want, without any restrictions: Harvard Library does not charge for permission to use those reproductions, and it does not grant or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute such images.

Harvard Library expects that this new policy will stimulate the use and reuse of digitized content for research, teaching, learning, and creative activities, which supports their mission of advancing scholarship and teaching by committing to the creation, application, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge. Sarah E. Thomas, Vice President for the Harvard Library and the Roy E. Larsen Librarian of Harvard College, states:

“We have already been using the digitization of Harvard’s collections as a means of enhancing access for Harvard’s students and faculty. Now we are seeking to share Harvard’s unparalleled collections with the rest of the world in ways that will foster new creativity.”

This is great news for OpenGLAM and we hope this can be an inspiring example for other institutions. The full policy can be read here: Harvard Library will announce other news related through Open Access Week on this page.

Open Knowledge Foundation joins Europeana Space

Marieke Guy - October 14, 2014 in Featured, News, Projects

This blog (cross-posted from the eSpace blog) introduces the work that Open Knowledge will perform within the Europeana Space project. Open Knowledge will be cooperating on WP3 – The Content Space and provide support and tools about the possibility of re-use of public domain and open content.


The aim of the Europeana Space project is to create new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources. It will provide an open environment for the development of applications and services based on digital cultural content. The use of this environment will be fostered by a vigorous, wide-ranging and sustainable programme of promotion, dissemination and replication of the Best Practices developed within the project.

Open Knowledge will be providing a ‘Knowledge Base’ on ‘Open Content Exchange’ known as the ‘OpenContent Exchange Platform’ for the Content Space. This platform will comprise of collated public domain and open content materials related to the value of digital public domain and best practices around open licensing. One particular area of focus will be the monetising of Europeana open content by creative industries and the challenges this poses related to IPR.

The OpenContent Exchange Platform will help answer, in an accessible, user-friendly way, the question “What would those working in creative industries want to know or to happen to enable them to reuse Europeana content?”. Questions from those working in creative industries may include:

  • What is the license of the content? What does the license mean? What can I do with the content? Can I make money from this content?
  • Do licence rules for what I can do differ by country? Do licence rules vary for the type of content I want to use? Are there differences between the licence for physical work or a digital work?
  • How do label my own content correctly? What is rights labelling?
  • Is IPR content embedded within content? What technical standards are there around embedding IPR content?
  • How can I get legal advice on IPR issues? How can I get content cleared to reuse?

It is anticipated that results from the platform will inform further research and policy making in the cultural heritage sphere, specifically around business models for open cultural content. Any poorly covered areas in the currently available materials will be identified with the intention of ‘filling in the gaps’.

Handing over a book from the Institut für Realienkunde. This image is Public Domain marked and available on Europeana portal.

Handing over a book from the Institut für Realienkunde. This image is Public Domain marked and available through the Europeana portal.

The OpenContent Exchange Platform will be an online, publicly accessible platform consisting of:

  • Links to open content to be made available through the exchange platform both from     partners of the Europeana Space project and from the wider cultural heritage community;
  • Blog posts and articles on open content being provided by Europeana Space partners     and the wider cultural heritage sphere presenting this material thematically and in a highly curated way to maximise interest in it;
  • Documentation on open licensing for both suppliers and users of open content so that     both parties fully understand the technical and legal implications of their work and make best use of its open character;
  • Materials on the re-use of openly licensed materials targeted at the creative industry, including manuals on how to source public domain works from other repositories

A first version of the OpenContent Exchange Platform will be ready in early 2015: the full version is planned for February 2016.

The Open Knowledge team that will work on the eSpace project includes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALieke Ploeger, community manager of the OpenGLAM initiative and project co-ordinator of the DM2E project at Open Knowledge. OpenGLAM is focused on promoting free and open access to digital cultural heritage held by Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums, while DM2E is building the tools and communities to enable humanities researchers to work with manuscripts in the Linked Open Web. Before joining Open Knowledge, she worked at the National Library of the Netherlands, where she was involved in several large-scale European research projects, such as IMPACT in the area of digitisation and SCAPE in the field of digital preservation.


marieke-guy-roundedMarieke Guy, project co-ordinator at Open Knowledge. She is just completing work on the LinkedUp Project through which she supported a series of competitions aiming to get people to reuse open and linked data relevant to education. Many of the LinkedUp Catalogue datasets have come from the GLAM community and many of the tools developed have been museum related. Prior to working for Open Knowledge she spent 13 years at the University of Bath based at UKOLN, where she worked on a variety of Cultural Heritage projects including Cultivate, Exploit and IMPACT – a mass digitisation project which aimed to improve access to historical text. Marieke is co-ordinator of the Open Education Working Group and writes a blog about Remote Working.

EC reports on digitisation in Europe

Lieke Ploeger - October 14, 2014 in Featured, News

In early October the European Commission published two reports on the current state of digitisation of cultural heritage material in Europe: one report addresses progress in the area of digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation, while the other looks more specifically at the situation around European film heritage in the digital era. Both reports conclude that although more cultural content has been made available online in recent years, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The Report on Digitisation, Online Accessibility and Digital Preservation of Cultural Material reviews and assesses the overall progress Volta_della_stanza_della_segnatura_02,_filosofiaachieved in implementing the EC Recommendation of 27 October 2011 (2011/711/EU), which asked EU Member States to step up their digitisation efforts and increase online accessibility of European cultural heritage. The digitised material should be made more widely available through Europeana, Europe’s digital library, archive and museum.

Most noteworthy for OpenGLAM is the EC stating in the executive summary that for the promotion of new ways of expanding access to and re-use of cultural heritage through the use of digital platforms, it is essential to ensure wide availability of the digitised materials in open platforms, with appropriate quality, resolution and interoperability features.

Although web visibility of cultural content has increased through reduction of watermarking or visual protection measures and wider use of open formats or social media, digitisation still remains a challenge, with only a fraction of Europe’s collections digitised so far (around 12% on average for libraries and less than 3% for films).

An important area of concern is digitised public domain material: often access to this material is obstructed by intrusive watermarking, low resolution or visual protection measures, and its re-use limited by the prohibition of reproduction or use of such materials for other than non-commercial purposes. The Rijksmuseum is highlighted as one of the institutions showing the way forward, by having widely opened up their digitised public domain material in high resolution format for free reuse. Other examples mentioned are:

Europeana managed to reach its overall collection target of 30 million objects set out in the Recommendation ahead of the 2015 deadline, with a current total of over 33 million. However, still underrepresented are copyrighted material and audiovisual material. This is partly because of the complexity and costs involved in clearing rights for the digitisation and partly because of the lacking online accessibility of those materials. Also premium content from mainstream cultural institutions (including masterpieces of leading European museums) is not always present.

The second report, Film Heritage in the EU also mentions the high cost and complexity of copyright clearance as one of the main barriers to film digitisation and online access, together with lack of funding. Although online access to film heritage collections for non-commercial purposes has increased in the last years, it is still very small.

There is some work to be done in the next few years to improve the situation: the OpenGLAM network aims to contribute to a wider adoption of open licensing policies by cultural institutions in the future by showcasing the value of institutions opening up their collections and helping those interested in opening up their material through workshops, documentation and guidance on open cultural data.

More information

The full press release of the European Commission is available here. The publication of both reports coincided with the Athena Plus conference on the reuse of digital cultural content in education, tourism and leisure: more information on this event is available from this webpage.

Getty announces partnership with DPLA

Lieke Ploeger - September 19, 2014 in Featured, News

This week, the Getty Research Institute announced a new partnership with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), the database that provides access to digitized cultural heritage materials from American libraries, archives, and museums and makes these available as freely and openly as possible.

As a start of the collaboration, the Getty has added the metadata records (licensed as CC0) for nearly 100,000 art history materials (digital images, documentary photograph collections, archives, and books) dating from the 1400s to today, including some of their most popular items. Making this information available through the DPLA interface will both improve search and retrieval of material and open up more possibilities for reuse of this content. It for example ensures that the data is interoperable with datasets from other initiatives, so that websites like are able to create an interface through which you can search DPLA and Europeana simultaneously.

All Getty records are available through this DPLA page: more metadata will be uploaded in the future as more of the Getty’s collections are digitized.


Frontispiece in The mysteryes of nature and art: conteined in foure severall tretises… by John Bate. London, 1634. The Getty Research Institute, 2822-075

The Internet Archive joins Flickr Commons

Lieke Ploeger - August 30, 2014 in Featured, News, Public Domain

This week, the Internet Archive announced that they have joined Flickr Commons and will be uploading over 14 million copyright-free images over the next months. These images have been extracted from the Internet Archive’s collection of public domain eBooks (spanning a time period between 1500 – 1922) by research fellow Kalev Leetaru. At the moment, over 2.5 million images are already available. What makes this resource specifically valuable is that for each image a detailed description, the subject tags of the originating book and 500 words of surrounding text have been added – which makes it possible to search through them based on topics and keywords.


The image collection can be found and used through this Flickr page: more background information on the release is also available from the Flickr announcement, as well as from this background article by the BBC.

Atlas of Mutual Heritage on Wikimedia Commons

Lieke Ploeger - June 20, 2014 in Featured, News

This week a large set of images from the Dutch Atlas of Mutual Heritage project have been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, making them openly available to the wider public. The Atlas of Mutual Heritage is a database containing old maps, prints, illustrations and data from the 17th and 18th century about settlements of the Dutch East & West Indian Company (VOC and WIC). It was created in cooperation with the Dutch Rijksmuseum, Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed, the National Library and the National Archives of the Netherlands and is continuously expanding.

The current release to Wikimedia Commons consists of over 2500 images with metadata from the collections of the National Library and the National Archives of the Netherlands. The images are all geolocated and contain extensive descriptions in English and Dutch, making it into a valuable resource for research into the colonial past of the Netherlands. They have been released under a CC0 license, as part of the open data policy that both institutes are increasingly aiming for. This set of images has been chosen as one of the first open data releases on Wikimedia Commons because of its value for areas such as socio-cultural history, history of architecture, restoration of overseas monuments, colonial history and art history.


Map of Batavia and environs, Atlas van der Hagen, volume 4. 1682. Collection National Library of the Netherlands

More information on the release is available from the Dutch press release and from the Wikimedia Commons website: the images can be accessed here. The set has also been added to the OpenGLAM overview of Open Collections


Second Europeana Creative challenge

Lieke Ploeger - June 13, 2014 in Featured, News


Europeana Creative is dedicated to stimulating re-use of cultural heritage resources by Europe’s creative industries. The project is developing five pilot applications, focused on natural history education, history education, tourism, social networks and design, with an open innovation challenge around each of the topics.

The second round of the challenge is now open: all creative developers, designers, start-ups and other entrepreneurs are invited to create innovative applications that reuse Europeana content in the themes of Tourism or Social Networks. The challenge winners will will receive a tailor-made Incubation Support Package, consisting of business mentoring, technical support, assistance with identifying and accessing finance, facilitation of business partnerships, access to specialised testing environments, marketing and promotion support.

For inspiration, Europeana Creative has developed some innovative Pilot Applications to demonstrate the things you can do with Europeana content and a bit of imagination. If you need some guidance on what Europeana content you could use and how to access it, check out the Europeana Labs platform and this blog post on how to get started.

The deadline for applications is 28 August: more information on the challenge and how to apply is available here.


Open Humanities Awards: deadline extended to 6 June!

Lieke Ploeger - May 30, 2014 in Featured, Linked Open Data, News


Are you planning a project that uses open content, open data or open source tools to further humanities teaching and research? Are you interested in linked open data, and would you like to build upon the research, tools and data of the DM2E project? This is your chance!

Submit your project to the second round of the Open Humanities Awards for a chance to win €20,000 worth of prize money in one of two dedicated tracks: an Open track and a DM2E track. We have just extended the deadline until Friday 6 June 2014: more information is available from this blog or on

National Library of New Zealand’s Use and Reuse Policy

Thomasin Sleigh - May 22, 2014 in Featured, News

Sketch map of the geology of New Zealand by Dr. Hector, 1869, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 2600. No known copyright.

Sketch map of the geology of New Zealand by Dr. Hector, 1869, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 2600. No known copyright.

The National Library of New Zealand has just released its new ‘Policy for Use and Reuse of Collection Items’. The policy is a timely move towards openness and clarity on rights statements for the National Library’s collections, and is underpinned by the New Zealand Government’s Open Access and Licensing framework for government agencies.

The policy reflects the Library’s legislated responsibilities to its diverse stakeholders, including Māori, and upholds the Library’s kaitiakitanga responsibilities, which can be translated as ‘guardianship’. As the blog about the policy states:

Kaitiakitanga sits alongside western concepts of intellectual property and acknowledges that tāonga [treasures] have a mauri, or life-force, by way of the people that were involved in their creation.

Key points from the policy include:

  • Principle 4: Negotiations with rights owners and donors will promote and be informed by the Creative Commons licensing framework as a mechanism to facilitate use and reuse of in-copyright works.
  • Principle 5: Where no copyright restriction applies, NLNZ will seek to provide the items for use and reuse with a statement of ‘no known copyright restrictions’, after careful consideration of cultural and ethical issues relating to the items.
  • Principle 6: Where there are works where copyright is likely to apply, but the rights owner is unable to be identified or traced after a reasonable search, NLNZ will seek to provide a statement of ‘copyright undetermined – untraced rights owner’, after careful consideration of cultural and ethical issues relating to the items.
  • Principle 7: Collection items with ‘No known copyright restriction’ statements should be available for use and reuse at an appropriate quality resolution.

The policy also outlines the Library’s intention to make its public metadata available under a CC-BY 3.0 license. This will include the National Library’s catalogue for published material, the TAPUHI descriptive system for unpublished records, and metadata about NLNZ’s collections available on third party platforms. Some of the Library’s metadata is already available for reuse.

You can read the policy in detail hereThere’s also a blog post which unpacks some of the behind the scenes processes and considerations.

VanGoYourself: recreate classic paintings

Lieke Ploeger - May 16, 2014 in Featured, News

This week the Europeana Creative project (focused on promoting the re-use of cultural heritage resources by creative industries) launched the website VanGoYourself. This new site allows you to recreate classic scenes from some of the world’s most famous painting in a contemporary setting with your friends (like Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper). When you upload your new version through VanGoYourself, it is paired with the original and ready to be shared, offering a playful way of interacting with cultural heritage. You can choose the level of difficulty (from “easy” to “challenging”), the type of painting (such as one with “selfie” potential or one “for lovers”) and link your results to a variety of widely used social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

Screenshot of the VanGoYourself website, with the current VanGo'd images

Screenshot of the VanGoYourself website, with the current VanGo’d images

VanGoYourself contains over fifty paintings from the collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen, the Herbert Gallery in Conventry, the Royal Pavilion and Museum in Brighton, the Compton Verney Museum (UK), the Villa Vauban in Luxembourg, the Saarlandmuseum in Saarbrücken and the Stadtmuseum Simeonstift in Trier, Germany, including of course works of masters like Van Gogh and Rembrandt.

The BBC made a nice introductory video on VanGoYourself: you can also read more on the Europeana Creative blog or follow them on Twitter through @VanGoYourself.