Open up the goldmine in the UK

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

“The cultural heritage community sits on a goldmine of images, texts, sounds, films, video, data and metadata of immense interest to wide variety of of specific sectors and the general public.” With that statement Jordan S. Hatcher and Eduserv open the Snapshot study on the use of open content licenses in the UK cultural heritage sector. 107 Cultural heritage organisations participated in the UK-wide survey. Some remarkable results include:

The vast majority of respondents are actively making content available online. Only four organisations do not make content available online.
Text and images are the most likely types of content to be made available online.
The decision to make content available online often seems to be made without any formal analysis of the impacts that may have.
Approximately ten percent of all respondents use Creative Commons or Creative Archive licences for (part of) their content. Another ten percent are thinking about using open content licenses in near future.
Fourty organisations that make available at least one type of content online have no copyright policy on their website.

The survey also shows that there is a potential for growth of the number of organisations that use open content licenses. Two findings in the UK survey that strike me as pressing issues for Images for the Future are the lack of analysis of the use and impact of online content, and the relatively large number of organisations that are almost completely ignorant of open content licensing. The latter issue is a matter of informing and teaching about copyright law. The former hints to the mind shift that cultural heritage organisations need. Most of them appear eager to advocate sharing (and re-use) of content. However, the question to what end content should be shared often remains unanswered.

The report is published under a Creative Commons-Attribution license and can be downloaded here.