The National Archive and Spaarnestad Photo release new photos on The Commons on Flickr.

It has been a busy week here at the National Archive. On the 18th of December the National Archive and Spaarnestad Photo launched new photographs on The Commons on Flickr. This time the photographs related to various subjects. Firstly,  as part of the National Archive’s Afscheid van Indië project (www.afscheidvanIndië.nl), The National Archive published some photographs of the Dutch East Indies on Flickr. Secondly, the National Archive also published a number of photographs by the famous Dutch photographer Willem van de Poll, which can also be viewed on The Commons. Then, getting in to the Christmas spirit, our partner, Spaarnestad Photo published some photos with a Christmas theme.

The National Archive has now been on-line for almost two months and so far it has generated about 650 000 views, about 1400 tags and 250 comments.

The initiative has caused quite some commotion in both the Dutch and international archival community. Last week I gave a talk in front of a critical audience of Photo journalists at a conference of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). The title of the conference was: “Photo Journalists: an endangered species in Europe? Development of an European sustainable quality agenda for photo journalism.” Photo journalists from all over Europe gathered to discuss their profession, and what they see as its possible decline.

Although they were a critical audience, it was still very interesting to hear the photographer’s point of view on initiatives like The Commons on Flickr and big digitalization projects like “Images for the Future”. Although, there was a general agreement about the fact that digitalization should be done to preserve historical photo collections. There was much less agreement about how to handle the copyright issues. It is clear that  solutions in the course of general licensing need to be found.

What was striking to me, was that photographers and copyright holders, who were present, were not up-to-date with the general licensing methods and Open Content initiatives like Creative Commons. The big learning for me was that it is good to bear in mind that archives and heritage institutions can benefit from maintaining a regular dialogue with photographers and copyright holders. This dialogue will allow both parties to inform each other about these sorts of initiatives and enable them to work together in finding solutions for the copyright issues, encountered by big digitalization projects.

If you would like to find out more about my talk you can find my presentation at SlideShare:

In the meantime you can still see all our photographs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationaalarchief/.

Maaike Toonen

Copyright specialist, National Archive “Beelden voor de Toekomst”

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