Open Data and Cultural heritage workshop in Berlin


Last week on April 20th, the Open Knowledge Foundation hosted its first open GLAM workshop in Berlin. During this half-day event, the legal-issues faced by cultural heritage institutions who want to open up their collections were discussed. Representatives from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Institute for Museum Research, the Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, the Naturkundemuseum, the Max Planck institute for Wissenschaften and many others joined legal experts from Creative Commons, Wikimedia and iRights.

After a word of welcome by myself (OKFN) and Jutta Weber (Staatsbibliothek), Daniel Dietrich (OKFN) opened the workshop with a short overview of the current state of affairs in the field of digitising cultural heritage. He discussed the proposed amendment of the PSI-directive to include cultural heritage institutions to fall under the directive and the work the Open Knowledge Foundation does to unlock cultural heritage.

Jutta Weber, head of the Manuscripts department of the Staatsbibliothek and partner of the Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana project presented the work the Staatsbibliothek is doing to digitise their collection and what that means for the literary publishing cyclus now that the digital objects become available outside of the reading room. The fact that the works are digital brings new possibilites like the creation of digital derivative works and annotations. This also means new legal questions about who owns the copyright of the digitised object and also about private rights of authors and editors

Paul Klimpel lined out clearly the why the arguments against releasing metadata under an open license are not valid. More and more, GLAM institutions become publishers themselves, both by original research as well as by crowdsourcing new information about cultural objects. To allow these new possibilities of digitised cultural data of working with cultural data, institutions have to publish their data under an open license. The institution need to switch to a collaborative model and work and share with other institutions to remain visible and to add value to their collection.

John Weitzmann of Creative Commons discussed the different Creative Commons licenses and what they mean for cultural institutions. During the discussion the 4.0 version of the license was discussed and how it would benefit for example Wikimedia editors as well.

Mathias Schindler gave an overview of the different projects Wikimedia is running that are relevant for GLAM institutions such as the media repository Wikimedia Commons and the just started Wikidata project. He also explained why it is important that the images which are used on Wikipedia need to be openly licensed and permit commerical reuse if Wikimedia’s goal of creating a world where every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge is to be attained. He also gave some examples of how the institutions can benefit from having their content in Wikimedia Commons and why good meta-data is of such importance to be visible as a cultural institution.

Paul Keller (Knowledgeland, Europeana presented the Europeana Licensing Framework and their Data Exchange Agreement. From the first of July, all meta-data in Europeana will be licensed under a CC0 license which means that all their data can be freely used without any restrictions. He pointed out that Europeana favors a smaller database which is easy to use with a CC0 license in stead of a larger collection which is harder to use because the material is licensed only for non-commercial use.

After his presentation Paul Keller discussed with the participants the different concerns of opening up their meta-data and signing the agreement. He mentioned that the German institutions are in general the ones that have the most trouble with signing the Europeana Data Exchange agreement and asked the institutions why that is. One of the answers was that the distinction between meta-data and the actual content was not always clear for institutions which shows the importance of demystifying the topic.

The Open Knowledge Foundation will be hosting a follow up workshop in the new year, focusing on metadata standards and technologies in cultural heritage institutions. If you’re interested in keeping in touch, you can join the open-glam mailing list.

We thank the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin for kindly giving us a room to use for the workshop and Wikimedia and Creative Commons for their support with organising the workshop.