POSTS: Museums, Digital Preservation Policies, and Copyright

Two recent posts address two important issues in museums: digital preservation policies and copyright.

In a piece in The Signal, “Towards a Digital Preservation Policy For Museums,” Madeline Sheldon discusses her research into digital preservation policies, noting that, while libraries and archives tend to maintain published policies, she has only found one museum thus far that does so (the National Museum of Australia). While some arts organizations, such as Rhizome and the Guggenheim are active in the digital preservation of video, animation, and art, “it appears that museums are fully invested in the preservation of time-based media, but few have taken the next step towards compiling their experiences into a definite strategy or policy.”

Kevin Smith (Duke University) provides a useful primer on getting copyright permission from museums to use images of artworks in projects. Smith builds on the arguments presented in a recent article by Kenneth Crews that delves deeper into issue, “Museum Policies and Art Images: Conflicting Objectives and Copyright Overreaching,” to outline how DH projects and the public benefit when museums (as well as archives and libraries) create less restrictive rules for copyright and licensing of content. Put simply, Smith states,

For those beginning to explore the uncharted territory of the digital humanities, permission fees and reuse restrictions will probably continue to create nearly unnavigable thickets of complication…Libraries and the digital archives associated with them need to model the best practices that we can in hopes that the most absurd kinds of copyright overreaching will become less common and rational policies based on an accurate assertion.

In addition to creating clear rules for the use of images, LAM organizations can also contribute to DH projects by making their data publicly available and grant reuse rights. For example, last week the Penn Museum released metadata for 332,882 object records in CSV, XML and JSON format under a CC-BY licence.

This post was produced through a cooperation between Kristin Andrews and Helen Davies (Editors-at-Large for the week), Zach Coble (dh+lib review Editor for the week), and Caro Pinto and Roxanne Shirazi (dh+lib review Editors).