The Museums and the Web conference is a major annual event that focusses on current developments in the domain of culture, science and heritage on-line.
Images for the Future has been invited to organise a mini workshop as part of the 2009 edition, taking place in Indianapolis, USA from April 15-18. The mini-workshop will demonstrate the social and also economic benefit of digitisation, through highlighting results of a selected number of services that Images for the Future has launched until now.
The workshop presenters have written the article Images for the Future: Unlocking Value of audiovisual heritage that links the notion of service development by cultural heritage institutions to value creation by users. It combines the “business model canvas”, a model developed by Alex Osterwalder and the â€œAccumulation, Archiving and Constructionâ€ model by Mirko Tobias Schaefer.
From the introduction: “Digitization is a driver to establish new services. Distribution over networks, interoperability with other collections and flexible integration in other environments are just a few of many properties in this new era of enormous potential for audiovisual archives. Therefore, large-scale digitization efforts do not only ensure long-term access, but also have the potential to reveal the social and economic value of the collections. This paper will focus on the latter: the types of services that can be created as a result of large-scale digitization efforts and the social and economical benefits they bring. Value creation is a key notion, as it determines the factors that legitimize (and determine the level of) investments by the government and funding programs. The case of Images for the Future is exemplary: cultural heritage organizations around the globe are currently reinventing their business propositions.â€œ
You can download the article Images for the Future: Unlocking Value of audiovisual heritage and we look forward to hear your comments.
By this point in the conference, the afternoon of the third day, the challenges of the commons had been fairly well explored: Current copyright law thwarts free access and reusability; archives arenâ€™t sure where to position themselves in the continuum between protecting their assets and promoting their collections; digital information can be copied and distributed so perfectly and cheaply that the value of the information is approaching zero… information wants to be free.
Which raises the question- if information is free, how do the people who manage and create information survive? Are we devaluing their efforts as well? Musicians seem to be navigating this tricky situation by using their digitally distributed music to promote their â€œin the fleshâ€ touring schedule; visual artists can hope that people will come to see their work in person even if their images are splashed and appropriated all over the internet; educators and lecturers can perhaps be subsidized by universities, or can get more speaking gigs in order to make money. But what are filmmakers doing? What about authors? How does this potentially new audience of freeloaders help the creative person?
The timing of this segment on Professional Cultural Producers was very well planned, as it seemed necessary to hear from them about their abilities to navigate this tricky market. First to take the stage was Florian Schneider, a videomaker, essayist and cultural organizer, who overlaid his own theoretical talk of imaginary property with a video of a piece of physical artwork being carefully transported to a museum by a registrar. His talk focused on these issues of imaginary property, information flows, fears of representation and mis-representation, the fear of the illegitimate copy. In this discussion, he represented the theoretical side a practical issue, but I was looking for some practical case studies.
The next speaker was Bauke Freiberg, from FabChannel/Culture Player, who spoke about their product, which acts as a platform for concert videos from Paradiso and Melkweg, popular clubs in Amsterdam. Just as a museum might record registrations of its art shows, Paradiso started recording its concerts, and over time this grew into a sophisticated 6 camera system, which now records and streams concerts, with ads and corporate sponsoring. In this regard, they are tied into the traditional marketing model of wrapping content in sponsorship. They hold traditional contracts with the artists on their site, and everything seems to follow the normal copyright model. So, it is a concrete example, and a good-functioning one, of a sort of â€œcorporateâ€ solution, in terms of distribution or control of images.
So, from a very theoretical and open-source argument from Florian to a clean, corporate solution from Bauke, we arrived at the final speaker of the day: Kenneth Goldsmith, from Ubuweb in New York. He reinvigorated the audience by injecting humor and irreverence by declaring that he was not interested in creating community or having user feedback, that his site was not democratic, and was run only by a field of expert volunteers. Ubuweb never clears copyright on anything â€“ his panel of volunteers mine and re-post artist text and video from a variety of sources, including members-only sources like karagarga. They have no ads and make no direct revenue from the site, and have a page http://www.ubu.com/resources/shame.html for people and organizations which have asked to be taken off the site.
Afterwards in the Q&A, with Rick Prelinger joining the stage, and moderated by Eric Kluitenberg, and audience member asked a simple yet difficult question â€“ what can one tell an archive who wants to get started, who wants to enter this digital environment? The answers ranged from â€œJust get started.â€ to â€œ I really donâ€™t have any advice for you.â€ It may not have been the brightest note for the ending of the conference, but certainly reflects the dilemmas and confusion facing archives and creators as we come up against the new economy of the commons.
Panel 4 takes the discussion from yesterday a step further. Harry Verwayen (Kennisland) recaps yesterday’s discussion. We have learned from yesterday about the commons, the social contract that we have. A place where archival materials should be available and where the market has to join in. It is an investment worthwile like INA did in France and Images for the Future in the Netherlands. But, there is a cost aspect. So there should be a sustainable business model. How are we going to do that?
We have to keep two aspects in mind. Verwayen points out that there is a paradigm shift going on inside the archives themselves. These organisations have to transform completely. Also, it is neccessary to look outside of the archives. We have to listen to what is going on with piracy and p2p networks as Jamie King was talking about yesterday. So, the aim of this session is to come up with models that could be usable and reflect on the ‘uncommon’ side of it. Verwayen encourages us to try to get beyond the restrictions that are constraining in this session.
There is always a cost and revenue aspect. Verwayen talks about 7 possible open business models.
- subscrtiption model
- pay per view/ download (ODE)
- free + added quality (Prelinger Archives)
- freemium (+ service) (Flickr, Linkedin)
- advertisement (NY Times)
- sponsorships (Memory of the Netherlands, Google Books)
- community engagement (Tribler)
Most of the money was traditionally earned in a closed environment. Now, how can we do that in an open model?
Open business models in scientific publishing
Jan Velterop, CEO of Knewco (www.knewco.com) is one of the leading experts on Open Access and open business models in scientific publishing. He states that he doesn’t believe in open business models, but he does believe in ‘opening up’ business models. Information is ‘funny stuff’ in this respect that unlike food, after you consumed it, it is not neccesarily gone, he explains. The problem with information is its ‘natural state’. It is open. It goes where it goes. So how do we make money with information or at least make good the costs?
According to Velterop there are 3 potential sources of funding. The reader. Here copy right is the construct of making money. But, subscriptions come with restriction and this is something that is not alway desirable. Second, the author, the provider of information. Actually this is more common than people think according to Velterop. A classic example is advertising. Third, 3rd parties.
The key is the one who has the biggest interest, is the one who pays. You see that most business models, for example in the newspaper industry, move to the author or the sponsor who pays instead of the reader. Open access in research publishing works, because in research publishing there is a big interest form the author. Closing deals as a publisher with the authors is a way to give open access to information at least for scientific publisher Springer.
Last FM: an open model on music
Jonas Woost, Head of Music at the pioneering music company Lastfm (www.last.fm/dashboard), talks about their open business model successfully used in an industry that has shown to be particularly vulnerable in the open environment of the internet, the music industry.
The ’scrobbling business’ is the core thing of Last FM, he explains. You come to Last FM and run some software. The software – ‘a kind of spyware’ – is listening to what you are listening. On the basis of what you listen, you can socially interact. Recommandation of music is based on “collaborative filtering”. Further on, artistpages are created automatically on LastFM. Like wikipedia users can add information to their profiles. Than you got two services. A streaming radio like service in which the key is ‘discovery’. There is not much interaction, but users can dicover new artists and new music. Second, you have free on demand streaming. You can search, find and listen music on demand.
Woost talks about their relationships with rights owners. Artists and labels get paid every time someone listens to a song. Also, an artist without a record label can sign up and profit. The more you listen, the more you get paid. The traditional situation was that you got paid per CD so somehow this system is more fair.
LastFM makes money in 3 ways. Ofcourse, there is ‘visual advertising’. Banner advertising. Second ‘affiliate links’. You will find links of all music displayed on LastFM going to 3rd party retailers. This is a “win win win situation”. The music fan is happy to find new music. Label can sell their CD, and for every successful transaction LastFM receives a commission. Third, a subscrition offering. The current subscription service gives you certain extras on the website if you want. According to Woost they will soon launch a new model which includes an unlimited anount of streaming on LastFM.
Jon Phillips (Creative Commons) asks if LastFM is just another face of relocking music. After all it is recently bought up by CBS. Woost denies. According to him there wille be no locking. It makes sense to make it free for the user. We make it available as free as we can, Woost argues. Anyone who wants to build a player, can. You don’t have to use LastFM to play the music. The only restriction is that we can pay the right owners.
Together with pannelists Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television), Roei Amit (INA), Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Archives) and Eerde Hovinga (NIBG-tbc) Verwayen, Woost and Velterop reflect on the impacts of these models on audiovisual archives.
Can you build something like LastFM for audiovisual archives? Woost thinks you can. But, there is a big diffenrence in listening music and watching video. You can listen to music all day doing other things, with video not. Either way, recommandations are key in both and that will be a huge challenge for the video industry. The panel argues that video can also function as background on your TV, this might be a profitable kind of use of archival video too.
So, what if Google comes along and offers your archive to pay for the digitization. The only restriction is to make it available on Google. Hovinga states that in he wouldn’t sell his archive out for Google just like that, but will take those offers as a serious possibility. According to Prelinger this is the most impertinent question to ask for in audiovisual archives.
Amit argues that archives will not going to have a sufficiant income from the B2C side like LastFM. In about 20 years the value of the audiovisual archives will be less than now, as every day there will be more content available. The value of the audiovisual archives will be further pushed away into the Long Tail where it is hard to make a lot of money. According to Amit this is the reason why there has to be public money in if you want to give the commons access to it.
And so it almost begins .. we await three intensive days in which we will discuss the future of archives, legal issues concerning orphan works and so much more. Thanks to The Balie the main conference can be followed real-time at The Balie live stream. Our bloggers will cover the conference almost in realtime on this blog. What can we expect from the conference?
Thursday April 10 – Legal Seminar â€“ Sound and Vision – Hilversum
A day dedicated to legal issues concerning digital heritage. Images for the Future will host the afternoon program of the Economies of the Commons Legal Seminar for legal experts, scholars and law students. Regarding the Images for the Future project the participants will work on the issue of orphan works and rights clearing. Venue for the seminar is the Sound and Vision building in Hilversum.
Friday April 11 – Economies of the Commons
The conference starts with a keynote of Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television) followed by a panel about the changing role of National Archives. What are the challenges large-scale digitization and online services have to offer? With Pelle Snickars (SLBA), Richard Paterson (British Film Institute), Tobias Golodnoff (Dansk Culturarv), and Roei Amit (INA).
After the lunch we continue with the second session about Commons-based Peer Production. How do new developments of creative reuse hold out against market-based production? With Felix Stalder (Open Flows), Jamie King (Steal This Film), Jon Phillips (Creative Commons) en Sebastian LÃ¼tgert (oil21.org).
The afternoon ends with a session about the European Digital Library. With Paul Doorenbosch (KB – National Library of The Netherlands), Jill Cousins (Director European Digital Library), Sonja de Leeuw (Utrecht University/ case: Video Active), Georg Eckes (Deutsches Filminstitut / case: European Film Gateway).
Friday evening: Sustainable Images for the Future / 20.30h
The Friday night is dedicated to Images for the Future and the Commons. Edwin van Huis (Director General of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) will provide the introduction about the largest digitization project in the Netherlands, Images for the Future. Rick Prelinger will continue to focus on the future of archives demonstrated by the case of the Prelinger Archives, a collection of 48.000 films of which a central selection has been added to the Library of Congress. David Bolier (www.onthecommons.org) speaks on the subject of value creation in open networks and how to link the Commons with government and industry. We end the session with a panel discussion with the speakers and Emjay Rechsteiner of the Dutch Filmmuseum about the Commons and Dutch audiovisual archives.
Saturday April 12 / 11.00 – 18.00h
Uncommon Business Models â€“ 11.00h
In this session we will take on the subject of open business models. Two experts from related media industries that are arguably ahead of the curve will kick off the workshop. Jan Velterop, CEO of Knewco and one of the leading experts on Open Access, will give us an insight in the deployment of open business models in scientific publishing. Over the past couple of years Open Access has been able to provide a valid and sustainable alternative in this 7 billion dollar industry. Jonas Woods, Head of Music at the pioneering music company Last.fm, will pick up from there. In his presentation he will highlight how his company has successfully generated income streams in an industry that has shown to be particularly vulnerable in the open environment of the Internet. These examples will pave the way for an interesting discussion with panelists Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television), Roei Amit (INA), Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Archives) and Eerde Hovinga (NIBG-tbc).
In the afternoon we focus on Intangible Heritage Resources in the (Non-) Western World. With Joost Smiers (Prof. em. Political Science of the Arts), Shubha Chaudhuri (ARCE), Anthony McCann (University of Ulster) Wim van Zanten (ICTM).
The last panel consists of Professional Cultural Producers. With Florian Schneider (Kein.tv), Kenneth Goldsmith (Ubuweb), Bauke Freiburg (Fabchannel / Culture Player), Chai Locher (NFTVM – tbc), Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Archives).
Enough said .. come back soon for notes, video’s, discussion and much more! Don’t forget to bookmark the site www.ecommons.eu for more detailed background, articles and related projects and documents.
Geert Wissink & Johan Oomen
With the introduction of internet the traditional business model for spreading information has been challenged. Whereas before the largest part of the efforts and the investments where spent on the distribution side (printing, storing, selling and fulfillment) the internet (aka The Large Copying Machine) has facilitated easy and cheap distribution. Scientific publishers, who traditionally operated in a closed environment where they sold packages of journals and books through an annual license to libraries, are now (often forced by the community) turning their business model upside down. In this model authors are paying for the publication service in exchange for posting in so-called ‘open access‘ journals, where access is free at the point of use (also read Jan Velterop’s blog The Parachute). In this particular case it looks like a suitable business model has been found, as this model takes advantage of the power of the internet and leads to a greater return on investment for authors (visibility) while securing revenues for the service providers (publishers).
The music and film industry are facing similar issues but have yet to find a grip on the situation; the content is more often than not available for free through peer to peer networks therefore a large part of the incentive to go to a shop and buy a cd or film has vanished. As we are digitizing vast amounts of audio-visual cultural heritage we are facing the same questions: what models can be developed that fulfill the need for broad accessibility for the public while securing a solid return on investment for owners of the material (authors, producers, directors, etc).
Some, like Chris Anderson in his soon to be released new bookâ€™ Freeâ€™ build an entire economic theory based on the notion that freeâ€™ will be the leading model for media due to the vanishing marginal costs of distribution via the internet. The new model that rises from the ashes will be a model where the content or service is free, at least for the user. Google of course is a great example of a company that has turned â€˜freeâ€™ to itâ€™s advantage; the service is free to users while advertisers are the paying customers. At the core a beautiful system as the more you use the service the more revenue it generates for the service provider. Keeping the attention of the viewer is key in the â€˜economy of abundanceâ€™, so you better make sure the service you develop is so appealing that users get hooked on it. In fact, if this becomes the case, there may be an opportunity to upsell them from freeloaders to paying customers by adding a an additional layer of services or privileges. This freemium model (term coined by venture capitalist Fred Wilson) has quickly become the leading model for web 2.0 companies like Flicrk and Linkedin. Interesting fact is that the rule of thumb is that the 1% of paying users supports the rest.
The crux of developing business models in this economy of abundance, where content is free, seems to be to tap into values that people are willing to pay for. And those values may not be the same as in the old days where content was king. Kevin Kelly calls them â€˜generativesâ€™:
â€˜â€™A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold.” Think â€˜trustâ€™ or â€˜personalisationâ€™. In his blog â€˜Better than freeâ€™ Kevin distiguishes eight of them.
So how does this translate to our audiovisual digitization adventure? Will the specific characteristics of cultural heritage lend itself to open content models like advertisements (google just released a beta service of video advertisements: Adsense for Video ), Freemium services or even community supported businessmodels?
We are hosting a workshop on this topic during the Economies of the Commons conference on saturday April 12 2008 in Amsterdam to investigate the options.