In this blog (cross-posted from her blog The Culture Feed) Sarah Stierch discusses some of the OpenGLAM highlights in the recently published Creative Commons report ‘State of the Commons’, as well as some suggested future steps.
“Creative Commons’ goal has always been “realizing the full potential of the internet,” with greater access for everyone to culture, knowledge, information, and education.”
I was very happy to wake up this morning to discover that Creative Commons (CC) had published the State of the Commons report. While reading through the report and exploring the colorful infograph, I found myself getting very emotional about the shift in culture that has taken place since the inception of CC, and their open option to copyright, 12 years ago.
The past five years has seen an uptick of cultural heritage institutions opening up their digitized works, with the inception of the GLAM-Wiki movement and OpenGLAM initiative. Freemedia fighters from within institutions and from the outside have made it our mission to enable the public access and to artwork, objects, film and writing. A small crop of contemporary artists have begun to explore it as well (most recently, Danish artist Filip Vest and the Hack the Bells contest). I can’t even imagine copyrighting my own work anymore, as a writer, public speaker or as a photographer, and perhaps that is my ego believing freedom is a more satisfying legacy (versus restrictive ownership).
There are a few highlights that I think can be attributed to the work we are doing in the OpenGLAM community:
- In 2006, 50 million works were CC licensed/CC0. Today, over 882 million works are CC licensed/CC0. That number will continue to increase as we continue our efforts to open up more cultural heritage material and provide improved resources to the public about how the Commons works and why free licensing is so important.
- The trend is moving towards free culture licenses. About 56% of those works are free culture licenses, meaning it will end up on Wikimedia Commons to be used in Wikipedia articles and can be adapted and used for commercial use. More restrictive licenses (non-commercial, no-derivatives, etc.) fail the mission of open culture and, in my opinion, are the last vestiges of copyleft imperialism.
- The USA and Europe lead the way in open licensing, which is no surprise given that open licensing advocacy groups involved in OpenGLAM are primarily headquartered in both the USA and Europe (i.e. Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Open Knowledge Foundation, Europeana). We need to provide more multi-language resources and support to empower our brothers and sisters fighting restriction around the world.
What the future holds and needs
We have lofty dreams, or at least, I do. A dream where all public domain material that is locked up under image rights fees and faux-copyright claims are truly free; where all cultural institutions release their metadata CC0, and where artists are not scared of being starving artists or losing control of their creativity by releasing their works under free culture licensing. But enough about my dreams, here are a few ideas on where I think “we” need to move next:
- Multi-lingual outreach, without over stepping it: we don’t want to be seen as imperialists moving into a country to demand they give it all up to the Commons and we’ll show them how to do it because their people aren’t capable of doing it on their own (especially given the Anglocentric nature of where the most Commons impact has been made, thus far). We need to create more multi-lingual multi-cultural resources, tools, and events that empower people – workshops not just lectures – throughout the world.
- More FREE workshops and conference activities: these are key component to getting people engaged and empowered. The OpenGLAM US Workshop was a hit with participants, and led to further understanding and internal buy-in within many of the institutions represented. We need to keep these programs free, we need to keep them accessible, and at times, localized. We also need more booths/tables at conferences – lectures and panels are just the beginning. Keeping things free provides accessibility and doesn’t just empower the “GLAMs with lots of money”.
- We need more investment – financially from institutions and organizations. While the idea of volunteers being the people power behind openness is romantic, the movement won’t be able to survive. We need more financial investment (and in-kind) from foundations, organizations, and individuals. Money funds the hiring of people (I like that idea!) and paid internships, events, attendance scholarships, evaluation, technology, etc.
- More case studies: as the old proverb goes, “the proof is in the pudding“. Without more case studies, blogs and data about what has been released to the Commons we won’t be convincing more people to contribute. Here in the US, case studies are a critical component to getting institutional buy-in – from boards, curators, librarians, executive directors, etc. It’s lovely that your organization has openly licensed tons of pictures of paintings, but what impact has that made and what has been learned from it? Evaluation – with successes and failures – is an important tool to making more people jump into the Commons boat.
- here. It’s used to release media where the institutional holding it has done it’s fair share of research (or so they claim) to figure out the copyright status of the image and no one can figure it out, so it enters free licensing purgatory. I’d love to see more research around this – how to crowdsource licensing status and how this “license” fits into the State of the Commons. See where “no known copyright restriction” fits into this report. You can read more about this “faux license”
The State of the Commons will continue to improve and grow as more people are empowered, engaged and inspired. Let’s get to work.
What other successes, challenges and next steps do you foresee for the OpenGLAM Commons? Share your thoughts below.