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OpenGLAM Documentation updated

Lieke Ploeger - May 12, 2016 in Documentation, eSpace, Featured

Last summer Open Knowledge launched the Open Content Exchange Platform, a resource developed within the E-Space (Europeana Space) project that collects materials on the reuse of open cultural heritage content. It is incorporated in the E-Space Content Space, where you can find a variety of resources on licensing, IP and copyright. At the end of April 2016 we completed our work on the platform: the final version contains 120 resources and has now also been incorporated into the OpenGLAM Documentation page to provide a more user-friendly and updated overview.


In this summary document on the Open Content Exchange Platform you can read more about the contents and functionality of the platform. Through the search interface, you can easily filter on specific content, or on specific tags. It is also possible to browse through the content, or a specific type of resources. All resources of our OpenGLAM Documentation page have also been incorporated – if you know of any additional resources that need to be added, feel free to notify us by email.

We look forward to seeing the final outcomes of the E-Space project develop over the next months, as the winners of the hackathons in six thematic areas (TV, Photography, Dance, Games, Open and Hybrid Publishing and Museums) further develop and shape their innovative ways of reusing digital cultural heritage into sustainable business models.

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New Topic Report: Public Sector Information in Cultural Heritage Institutions

Joris Pekel - July 8, 2014 in Documentation, Featured, Front Page

This week a new Topic Report has been published on the ePSI Platform about public sector information in cultural heritage institutions. The report discusses the current state of the digital cultural heritage landscape in Europe and looks at what the recently accepted amendments to the PSI Directive mean for the sector.

###What is Public Sector Information?

Public Sector Information (PSI) is the single largest source of information in Europe. It is produced and collected by public bodies and includes legal data, economic/financial data, digital maps, geographic information, meteorological data, digitised books, statistics, and data from research projects.

Most of this Open Data can be re-used or integrated into new products and services that we use on a daily basis, such as car navigation systems, weather forecasts, and financial and insurance services.

###What does this mean for the cultural sector?

The original Directive dates from 2003 and it excluded the information that is produced by libraries, archives and museums. The amended Directive that was accepted one year ago changes this. These cultural heritage institutions will now also be asked to make their information available to the public. This includes both the metadata, the descriptive information, as well as the digitised content. The Directive does however allow institutions to make the data available under certain conditions such as charging marginal costs.

###Implementation of the Directive by the Member States

At the moment the new amended Directive is not fully in place yet. Member States have until July 2015 to implement the new Directive into their national law. How effective the new Directive will be is dependant on how the different Member States decide to implement the Directive. The report researches the current state of implementation of each Member State and the results can be found in this map.


It becomes quite clear that the implementation of the amended Directive is not on track at the moment. One year after the acceptance of the new text, only a few countries are currently working on implementing it. This is a concern especially when realising that some Member States took as long as 7 years to implement the Directive from 2003.

The full report also addresses other topics like maintaining a healthy Public Domain (also addressed next week during a workshop at the OKFestival), the potential of cultural heritage data for other sectors such as education and creative industries, and the more general issues memory institutions run into when digitising their collections. The full report can be found here.

Concerns and reasons not to open up GLAM data. Part 1 – Fear of Misuse

Joris Pekel - June 21, 2013 in Documentation, Featured

Over the last year, members of the OpenGLAM initiative have been talking with many representatives from cultural heritage institutions. We have had many interesting discussions about opening up collections and tried to overcome the many reasons and concerns institutions have not to open up their data and content. In this blogpost we will talk about these different reasons and try to give advice or solutions.

'Internetcrimineel' taken by Verbeeldingskr8. CC-BY-SA

‘Internetcrimineel’ taken by Verbeeldingskr8. CC-BY-SA

In most cases, we talked about the major legal and technical questions, which we have written extensively about on the OpenGLAM blog. But very often, also other concerns within the institution plays a role in not opening up the data. When we started writing these down, we quickly realised that this was too much for a single blogpost. We will therefore explore these concerns and their possible answers in series. We will start off with a couple of concerns which can be summarised as ‘the fear of misuse’ – intentional or unintentional. Many institutions fear that by opening up their data and making it freely available, they will lose track of what happens with their data, it will be used in the wrong context, by people with bad intentions, and the data will be ripped apart, losing all it’s value.

####People will misinterpret the data

By opening up the data you allow the user to access and re-use it without asking the institution first. It is hard for the institution to keep track of what happens with their data and how it is interpreted. While the curator has carefully selected and managed its collection, putting it freely online would allow the user to download it, and use and interpret it in ways that you would have never thought off.

The first step in overcoming this problem is documentation about how you think the data should be interpreted. As a curator you know most about how the collection is structured and why certain decisions were made, be prepared to help people answering their questions and correct people. At the same time, it is very likely that somebody out there knows more about your data than you do. By offering them a way to access your data and working with it, you allow them to spot errors or missing information, which they then can return to you. Several institutions have had great successes improving their collection and metadata by allowing the community to re-use it.

Finally, publishing it yourself might actually prevent wrong interpretations. When the data is online but not open, it can still be acquired via less legal means (scraping, or just right-click, save). By keeping the publishing and updating in your own hand, you can quickly point to the source data of your institution to refute the wrong interpretation.

####People with bad intentions will use my data in the wrong way

We see this concern mainly at institutions who have sensible material such as war museums. The fear is that people or groups with bad intentions will use their data in a harmful or wrong way. Very often, institutions add a sentence to their license to cover this, such as this example which says: ‘You may not use the photographs to mislead people. You may not use the photographs for unlawful or inappropriate purposes.’

This kind of restriction is very hard to interpret, after all, who decides that I am using this picture inappropriate? At the same time, the data can already be obtained by other slightly harder means as written above and it is incredibly hard for an institution to track this, let alone to get the user to take it down. By adding these restrictions, the average user who wants to research or use this data in a proper way is disadvantaged as it makes it not easier to understand the restrictions. At the same time, the license is not going to prevent people who want to do harm of doing it.

Also, when people decide to use your material in a really harmful way, there are other laws than copyright that can deal with this kind of misuse such as the several anti-racism and discrimination acts.

As a final remark we would like to highlight again the importance of well maintained metadata. Opening data is not about dumping it on the web and never look at it again. It is up to the institution to publish this with the relevant information. Tell the user what they can expect, what its flaws are, and who to contact when they have questions. Only this way both the users and the institutions can really benefit from an open culture ecosystem.

For more info about opening up your data the right way, see the OpenGLAM Principles. If you are an institution and have questions, feel free to get in touch directly. See also our documentation section.

School of Open launches with OpenGLAM course

Joris Pekel - March 12, 2013 in Documentation, Featured, News

This week is Open Education Week and to celebrate the first courses on the School of Open are launched. The School offers courses on the meaning, application, and impact of “openness” in the digital age and its benefit to creative endeavors, education, research, and beyond. It is coordinated by P2PU and Creative Commons. The School offers all kinds of courses related to openness. You can learn about creative commons licenses, open data in science, copyright for educators, and now also how to open your cultural institution’s data.

Open Up your Institution’s Data course on the School of Open

The ‘Open Data for GLAMs‘ course is an adaptation of the masterclasses that the Open Culture Data initiative gave to several institutions. By releasing their course material, every memory institutions can now start to open up their cultural data as open culture data. Together with several partners from the OpenGLAM network we edited the course and it is now ready for anybody who wants to open up. The course will guide you through the different steps towards open data and provide you with extensive background information on how to handle copyright and other possible issues.

School of Open is offering free online courses on what “open” means and how it can help you.

The different steps will force you to think about different aspects of your data that could lead to a more efficient data infrastructure and a coherent data policy with great internal benefits for your institution.

We are very curious about your experiences and happy to help if you have any questions. We also would really like to sit down with you (in person or virtual) and go through the course together . So if you are interested, get in touch!

Consequences, risks and side-effects of the license module “non-commercial use only”

Joris Pekel - January 8, 2013 in Documentation, Featured

In 2012, a group of German copyright experts released in collaboration with Wikimedia the German document “Folgen, Risiken und Nebenwirkungen der Bedingung Nicht-Kommerziell – NC” (Consequences, Risks, and side-effects of the license module Non-Commercial – NC). In this document, they explain all consequences of choosing a CC license variant restricted to non- commercial use only (NC) and make clear why its usage is often not necessary and even a bad idea for artists and institutions.

The public licenses developed by Creative Commons (CC) are tools to make creative works available for free use under certain conditions. As rights holders have different needs and motives, CC offers six different license variants. Some of the most popular license variants include the condition that the licensed works must not be used commercially. This has far-reaching and often unintended consequences for the dissemination of the respective works and sometimes even entirely thwarts what the licensor wants to achieve by choosing a CC license.
This brochure wants to offer information on consequences, risks and side-effects of the restrictive CC license variants that don‘t allow commercial use

As often discussed on the OKFN blog, the Creative Commons NC-license can not be considered a true open license as it is not mutually compatible with for example, material with a CC Attribution-Sharealike (BY-SA) license.

After reading this document which was published under a cc-by license we decided that it was worth it to create an English version as well. We put out a request to the German OKFN volunteers and got a couple of responses. Within a few days the complete document was translated. Then, the original authors were consulted and they agreed to proofread the document. This was also a great opportunity to implement some of the comments they received from the German Wikimedia community after publishing. With the help of Wikimedia Deutschland, we were able to fit the document in the same design as the original.

And now in early 2013, we are very happy to announce the final version of the document translated to English.

Download “Consequences, Risks, and side-effects of the license module Non-Commercial – NC” here.

Again we want to thank the OKFN community so much for achieving this great publication. Special thanks goes out to Thomas Hirsch who translated the majority of the document.

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