I am delighted to announce that Wikimedia's collaborative strategy
development project, which was first discussed here on this list a few
months ago, will be led by Eugene Eric Kim.
Eugene is principal and co-founder of Blue Oxen Associates
<http://blueoxen.com/>, a San Francisco-based socially-conscious
consulting firm that focuses on understanding and improving how people
collaborate. He's worked at all levels of the collaborative process,
from strategy development to facilitation. His past clients have
included People for the American Way, NASA, the Institute for
International Education, Socialtext, and the Sierra Club.
Eugene is also a long-time member of the Wiki community. He is the
co-author of PurpleWiki, he spoke at the first Wikimania in Frankfurt,
he was a keynote speaker at WikiSym 2006, and he was one of the
instigators of the first RecentChangesCamp.
Eugene will start today, July 13. He'll work in our San Francisco
office. He will report to me, and the project's Facilitator and
Research Analyst will report to him.
I expect he'll take the first few weeks to catch up on the thinking
that's been done so far, and you'll start hearing from him soon. We
expect planning to take a few months, and the project itself will
likely formally kick off shortly after Wikimania.
I am thrilled to have Eugene join us for the strategy project, the
Wikimedia Foundation's top priority in 2009-10. His wealth of
experience and his deep understanding of our world make him a perfect
partner to lead this project on our behalf. Please join me in
congratulating and welcoming him. Also, my thanks to Erik Moeller and
Jennifer Riggs for sitting on the hiring committee.
415 839 6885 office
Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in
the sum of all knowledge. Help us make it a reality!
Every day millions of people access health information online. We have
recently seen some new hard evidence of Wikipedia's growing prominence
as a health information resource. The rapid development and traffic on
the English Wikipedia of an article on Influenza related articles
demonstrates this trend:
Today, I'm very happy to announce that the first Wikipedia Academy
event in the United States will take place this Thursday, July 16th at
the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) headquarters in Bethesda,
The NIH includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary
federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and
translational medical research, and it investigates the causes,
treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases.
On Thursday, a team of experienced volunteer Wikipedia editors will
talk about Wikimedia's mission and orient the audience to Wikipedia's
structures and community policies. Medical researchers and other staff
members of the NIH will learn how to contribute to Wikipedia's content
and engage with other Wikipedians to further increase Wikipedia's
quality and credibility.
We're incredibly excited about this opportunity for increasing the
quality of health-related information on Wikipedia. I believe this
partnership has a huge potential and we all are very excited about the
See also our press release:
I got an email from National Library in Norway and it has some
interesting points. My comments are after the bulleted points. The
bulleted points are my writeup from their comments, the original email
was in Norwegian. Hopefully it is understandable.. :D
* Backlinks to the museums themselves is important, especially so the
museums can serve high resolution images or alternate images.
Note that in this context there could be images with extremely high
resolution, or processed images that could be part of some continued
work. Imagine a 2D image of a viking helmet that really are a 3D scan,
the 2D visualization is really a simplification and the 3D scan can be
refined with new processing. The viking helmet is an example and is
located at Kulturhistorisk museum. Medium resolution images are by
one source described as images in the range 800-1000px across longest
axis. High resolution images could be 25Mpx and higher, one source was
talking about 150Mpx. A 3D building scan combined with photographic
textures could be very much more than this.
This is also important for us, how can we tell our users that the
museums can provide additional services? To post a template isn't very
dynamic, yet it somehow solves the problem. What would be very
interesting is to make some kind of API that makes it possible to get
additional information directly from external sites. Probably something
like this should go through a white list of some kind or be sufficiently
laundered to make it safe in our environment.
* Send a message to a contact if a specific image is used on Wikipedia,
probably also containing metadata.
This kind of service probably should be some kind of RSS feed with an
additional option of en email notice. Probably it should be possible to
follow a RSS feed for a whole category, like "Images from National
Library of Norway" or "Photos by Axel Lindahl". Such a RSS feed
should probably be available in a daily or weekly digest mode. But what
if there is some sub category, what should then be sent as a message -
"This category and 1, 2, 3 levels below?"
* Geotag from Wikipedia should be available through Commons, and
additional tools for adding geotags are important.
Probably geotags from Wikipedia should be available through some kind of
API for Commons, but this should not be confused with geotags added to
the actual image itself. Changes to the Geotags should be available
through some kind of RSS feed too. It seems like tools to geotag an
image through features in the image is important, but I don't know if it
is feasible to do that today. I know about a few algorithms that can do
this, at least if they have some clue about where the photo comes from.
A wild guess "Norway" will most likely fail, but it isn't unlikely that
a general area of a municipality and a few additional features like the
location of a church and a couple of hilltops is sufficient. I know
Riksantikvarsembetet in Sweden and ABM-utvikling in Norway have talked
about this, so some interest definitely exist outside our community.
* Users should be able to give comments about an image or tag it, and
this should be reported back to the owner. This should be independent of
the use of the image at Wikipedia.
This I guess is two different thing. One thing is use of the image in
mashups, use in blogs, etc. For now you has to transfer the image to be
able to tag it on a blog, but what they say its interesting to get the
actual tagging on Commons and then the image should be mashable. The
other thing they talk about are comments on the image itself, which I
guess is simply an RSS feed from the talk page. They make an example
about Flckr.com, but I guess Expono.com is a better example. They said
that the total information from a wiki are probably more interesting for
them than Flickr.
Automatic tagging due to reuse is very interesting. How can we do this?
It works like trackback in blogs, but would probably mean that we allow
reuse of images through mashups. Imagine buttons like "post this on
flckr" and similar sites, and make the information about where the image
is reused available.
* They wonder how and if uncategorized images could be utilized somehow.
They make an example of several thousand photos taken by a German
soldier during WW2 in Norway, and this is about the only thing they know
about the images.
Perhaps we need some statistics on usage of the uploaded archives from
the German museums? Some of the images did not have sufficient
information for localizing them, yet they were later located. One
example is a photo from Mehavn.  I've been wondering if a service
like Expono is better suited and that we can transfer images when there
are something about them that makes them interesting for us. As long as
we have no information it is difficult for us to utilize the image, but
when we do utilize them we need to add a lot of information and that
isn't easy to do in an external interface.
As a side note, what if we make a dirt simple interface for adding
locations to images and then let the collaborative effort filter whats
usable information? Its something like "add the name of the place" and
only after more than one user adds the same name it shows up in a list
of possible places, perhaps overruled by a list of known locations. Note
that this should be done such that it doesn't create additional workload
for administrators, and that more evolved comments could be placed on
the discussion page.
* They wonder if an involved user would be interested in looking through
I believe it is better to make the images available to the community
because someone has the knowledge about the images. It is more likely
that the user with knowledge about the images will find them, than for
us to find the user with the knowledge. But if someone find a single
photo of interest, how can we use that information to find other images
of interest? I think it could be interesting to upload a bunch of images
where we have very little prior knowledge and then do some research on
how the images are utilized. Right now we have very little knowledge
about how such images are used. A project that uploads images without
any information and then let the community tag and use them will
probably take several years before any usefull information is gained, -
but even if the process is slow it will persist and there will be
available information over time.
John Erling Blad /jeblad
Sure. Actually the New York chapter probably sends some press releases to US media too; I'm not sure.
From: Thomas Dalton
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Sent: Jul 11, 2009 10:41 AM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] About that "sue and be damned" to the NationalPortrait Gallery ...
2009/7/11 Sue Gardner <susanpgardner(a)gmail.com>:
> Point of clarification -- the Wikimedia Foundation sends out press releases to international media, not just US media. We have no plans to send out a press release on this issue.
Of course, what I meant was that only the WMF sends press releases to
US media, not that the WMF only sends press releases to US media.
Dear friends, this is an official statement fo the local team about
the influenza A pandemic and the organization of Wikimania 2009.
== English ==
Given the influenza A(H1N1) pandemic declared by WHO, Wikimania
2009's Organizing Committee wishes to provide information to the
conference attendees regarding the spread of the virus in Argentina
and the measures that resulted. In first place, we confirm that
Wikimania 2009's development is not at risk, nor is considered the
possibility of suspending or postponing the event.
So far, as by WHO update 58 (07/06/2009), a total of 2485
lab-confirmed positives  and 60 deaths have been reported for
influenza A(H1N1) in Argentina. In this situation, the federal and
provincial governments have taken a series of preventive measures,
including suspension of some public events and having brought forward
the holiday period.
The measures in place are not expected to continue after July, as
the maximum spread of influenza A(H1N1) does coincide in the Southern
Hemisphere with seasonal factors. In fact, the Buenos Aires City
Government has informed on July 8 that the number of consultations and
detected cases of influenza A(H1N1) had decreased sensibly .
All the recommendations coming from health authorities during the
date of the conference will be taken into consideration. Argentina
benefits from a wide public health network and the state guarantees
free treatment for those with influenza A(H1N1) symptoms.
WHO specifically states that "it is safe to travel", as it is
scientifically proven that the effect that the travel ban could cause
on the virus' propagation is negligible .
Please, read carefully the recommendations of WHO before
travelling and follow this very simple guidelines. 
We will inform any future development. ¡Viva Wikimanía! We are
looking forward to see you all in Buenos Aires!
 In Argentina, not every suspected case is confirmed by laboratory
analysis, but only in presence of additional risk factors.
== Español ==
Ante la pandemia de gripe A(H1N1) declarada por la OMS, el Comité
Organizador de Wikimanía 2009 desea brindar información a los
asistentes a la conferencia sobre la propagación del virus en la
Argentina y las medidas que esto ocasionó. En primer término,
aclaramos que no está en riesgo la realización de Wikimanía 2009, ni
se contempla la posibilidad de su suspensión o posposición.
Hasta el momento, según la actualización 58 de la OMS
(06/07/2009), se han reportado en la Argentina un total de 2485 casos
positivos confirmados por laboratorio de gripe A(H1N1) y 60
muertos. Ante esta situación, los gobiernos nacional y provinciales
han tomado una serie de medidas de prevención, como la suspensión de
algunos espectáculos públicos y el adelantamiento del período
En ningún caso las medidas prevén mantenerse más allá del mes de
julio, puesto que el pico de la incidencia de la gripe A(H1N1)
coincide en el caso del Hemisferio Sur con el factor estacional. De
hecho, el Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires informó el 8 de julio
que había disminuido notoriamente la cantidad de consultas y de casos
detectados de gripe A(H1N1) .
Se tomarán en cuenta todas las recomendaciones que emanen de las
autoridades sanitarias durante la fecha de realización del evento. La
Argentina dispone de una amplia red de salud pública, y el Estado
asegura el tratamiento gratuito para aquellos con síntomas de gripe
La OMS afirma taxativamente que "es seguro viajar", en tanto está
científicamente comprobado que es desdeñable el efecto que pudiera
ocasionar la prohibición de viajes en la propagación del virus .
Por favor, lee con atención las recomendaciones de la OMS antes de
viajar y sigue estas sencillas instrucciones. 
Informaremos cualquier desarrollo sucesivo. ¡Viva Wikimanía! ¡Los
esperamos en Buenos Aires!
 En Argentina, no todos los casos sospechosos son confirmados por
análisis de laboratorio, sino sólo aquellos en los que el paciente
tenga factores de riesgo adicionales.
Mensajería Instantánea: patricio_lorente(a)jabber.org
Is it possible to find some common grounds on why and how a
GLAM-organization should use Wikimedia Commons? Forget about troublesome
disputes with specific organizations. Why should they use us and is it
possible for us to tell them how to better utilize our services? What
are our services? Perhaps we need a sales department... ;)
I was going to call NPG this morning first thing (as a volunteer, to
see what could be reasonably done to avert a public battle - our own
museum/gallery liaison volunteers can really, really do without a
public battle fouling up their ongoing efforts) but was awake all
night with a sick child and so I just got up ... has anyone here
called yet, as a volunteer? I know Physchim62, who did a lot to get
the American Chemical Society working with us, was going to call. Has
(I don't hold out much hope for this - the NPG's position has been
completely consistent and completely uncooperative for many years..
But it's always worth asking.)
It's reasonably important to avoid discussing the possible legal case,
for Dcoetzee's sake, *but* the NPG's lawyers have effectively written a
press release read by ten thousand Wikimedians and a million Slashdot
readers, that clearly does directly and personally affect a lot of
them. I bet it's been more widely read than any intentional press
release of theirs has been.
Ideal outcome: PD everything, they welcome a team of our photographers in.
Plausible good outcome: We put up the hi-res images with notes that
they are PD in the US but the NPG claims copyright in Europe and
releases them under CC-by-sa, and full credit is requested in either
case. (Copyleft is not as ideal as PD, but it's plenty good enough for
us.) We issue press releases lauding the NPG to the skies and say nice
things about them forever.
Another plausible good outcome: They welcome a team of our
photographers in. Careful supervision, etc. Then we can do stuff like
infrared shots as well (which can show interesting things about a
painting's restoration history).
Awful outcome: great big legal battle.
Bad outcome: mainstream press about this at all, really. The NPG
probably doesn't see it that way.
Any other possible outcomes to list?
Additional data point: the NPG has removed the hi-res versions. Thus,
the Wikimedia copies are the *only* copies currently available.
This makes it actually culturally important for us to keep them up!
The Executive Director for Digital Policy of the J. Paul Getty Trust
has written an article on digitally-reproducible works of public
domain art, and museums' mission, arguing why and how museums should
properly make these works as unrestrictedly available as possible --
thought people here would find it a worthwhile read:
The piece is CC-BY-SA-2.5, so I am including full text here:
Public Domain Art in an Age of Easier Mechanical Reproducibility
Exec. Dir. for Digital Policy, J. Paul Getty Trust
(This Opinion piece presents the opinions of the author. It does
not necessarily reflect the views of D-Lib Magazine, its publisher,
the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, or its sponsor.)
In principle a work of art has always been reproducible .
In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer
be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain
unaffected by our modern knowledge and power .
Walter Benjamin opened his 1936 essay, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter
seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit, with the first observation
quoted above. He then extended the notion of reproducibility to
suggest how it might mutate in a world that has changed since the
world in which historical works had been created. Benjamin turned to
Paul Valéry with the second quotation above, which continues a bit
Just as water, gas, and electricity are brought into our houses
from far off to satisfy our needs in response to a minimal effort, so
we shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear
and disappear at a simple movement of the hand, hardly more than a
Neither Benjamin nor Valéry could imagine the uses to which a
copyright act might be put .
Nearly every art museum today asserts intellectual property rights in
reproduction images of public domain works in its collection. It is
argued here that placing these visual reproductions in the public
domain and clearly removing all questions about their availability for
use and reuse would likely cause no harm to the finances or reputation
of any collecting institution, and would demonstrably contribute to
the public good. As those images have become increasingly regarded as
assets and as the preferred delivery venue for images has become
increasingly an electronic network, the question of whether to allow
free access and reproduction has become vitally important and complex.
The paradigm for sharing in this context is fundamentally different
from anything we have known before. The manner in which these rights
might be granted, that is, the associated language and processes, may
require consultation with legal counsel. Doing it, however, is not
complicated by legal constraints. The choice to do so is a business
decision that can be evaluated by nonprofits by measuring success
against their mission.
The music industry's struggle to come to terms with the Internet has
over the last years dominated much of our thinking about copyright and
about a communications medium that has fundamentally changed notions
of distribution and use. At the heart of this industry's problems seem
to have been out-of-date business models, wildly divergent values with
a wish that new technology would not be used, and rebellious consumers
and artists. Those same problems are already vexing non-profits with
visual assets. Over time every business – including museums and
libraries – will have to manage for these kinds of changes. And here
the recording industry's turmoil may provide some helpful guidance.
Among other things, it should instruct the non-profit world to keep in
focus its business, described by a mission-based bottom line. We might
well ask ourselves, what is our business/mission that is to be
extended into an online environment: Is it publishing? Research?
Education? Access? Commercial licensing of images?
Art museums and many other collecting institutions in this country
hold a trove of public-domain works of art. These are works whose age
precludes continued protection under copyright law. The works are the
result of and evidence for human creativity over thousands of years,
an activity museums celebrate by their very existence. For reasons
that seem too frequently unexamined, many museums erect barriers that
contribute to keeping quality images of public domain works out of the
hands of the general public, of educators, and of the general milieu
of creativity. In restricting access, art museums effectively take a
stand against the creativity they otherwise celebrate. This conflict
arises as a result of the widely accepted practice of asserting rights
in the images that the museums make of the public domain works of art
in their collections.
Indeed, it is not at all clear that the institutional claims of
copyright to such works would survive a legal challenge. The judgment
in a 1999 case, BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY, LTD. v. COREL CORP., brought in
a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, held that
the marketing of photographic copies of two-dimensional public domain
master artworks, without adding anything original, cannot constitute
copyright infringement when the underlying work is in the public
domain. By and large, museums have been holding their noses and hoping
this ruling will neither be broadly noticed nor challenged . The
fact that the ruling applies only to two-dimensional works of art
likely provides little relief to those museums with a traditional but
persistent pecking order that goes something like: paintings,
drawings, everything else.
When the distribution of reproductions of art works was accomplished
with film-based slides, transparencies, and printed images, the harm
caused by assertion of rights in images of public domain works to the
mission of these publicly supported and tax-benefited institutions was
less restrictive. Obtaining an image generally required moving a
physical object, a film or a paper-based image from one place to
another. Although images, once acquired, could be duplicated, to some
extent the quality of the reproductions was always less than the
quality of the originals. The restriction imposed by the assertion of
rights in images was less visible and less burdensome to the extent
that physical access was an a priori constraint accepted by all
parties. Similarly, violations of use were difficult to find when that
use involved a physical copy. The re-use of images and copies in
university slide libraries, for example, was more likely to be
overlooked by museums. Today, digital images can be copied from a web
site, reproduced, and widely distributed quickly, with ease and little
expense. While examples of museums chasing down digital image
miscreants are rare to non-existent, the expectation that museums
might do so has had a stultifying effect on the development of digital
image libraries for teaching and research.
In the online world, the assertion of rights either prevents the
provision of images entirely or results in providing images that are
marked in some way or are of low quality. Low resolution makes them
useless for most uses. Because the Internet allows and encourages flow
of information unlimited by a gatekeeper, museums choose to restrict
access, not wishing to undermine their financial potential for
This resistance to free and unfettered access may well result from a
seemingly well-grounded concern: many museums assume that an important
part of their core business is the acquisition and management of
rights in art works to maximum return on investment. That might be
true in the case of the recording industry, but it should not be true
for nonprofit institutions holding public domain art works; it is not
even their secondary business. Indeed, restricting access seems all
the more inappropriate when measured against a museum's mission – a
responsibility to provide public access. Their charitable, financial,
and tax-exempt status demands such. The assertion of rights in public
domain works of art – images that at their best closely replicate the
values of the original work – differs in almost every way from the
rights managed by the recording industry. Because museums and other
similar collecting institutions are part of the private nonprofit
sector, the obligation to treat assets as held in public trust should
replace the for-profit goal . To do otherwise, undermines the very
nature of what such institutions were created to do.
Some art museums may generate a significant portion of revenues
through commercial licensing of images of works in their collections,
and that revenue may be vital for their continued operations. However,
we have little to no data on the extent to which such revenues really
currently support museum operations. There are no publicly available
figures derived from any survey of net revenue generated by individual
museums as a percentage of operating costs . Neither is there good
information on what percentage of revenues is based on public domain
works or what percentage comes from works still under copyright
constraints. We know even less about the costs associated with the
generation of such revenue, monitoring infringement, and enforcing
grievances – something traditionally ignored in the income analysis of
nonprofits . Answering these questions would provide insight as to
whether there is enough revenue to be worried about.
If the hope for significant commercial licensing revenue diminishes
easy access to quality images for education and research, we might be
tempted to ask, how much income justifies the diminution of the
institution's mission driven goals? As seductive as the finance
question is, the answer lies first in a policy choice for each museum.
Nonetheless, it may also lie in a public policy choice with respect to
the definition of the private nonprofit sector.
Are there other revenue possibilities that have been overlooked
because of the focus on commercial licensing? For example, it is clear
that the public visibility of and familiarity with works of art
generates interest in those works. That interest contributes to the
revenues realized from entrance fees as well as bookstore and
cafeteria sales. This generation of revenue is visible in the
persistent use of images of well-known works in many venues as
advertisements to drive traffic to the museum's front door. Why else
would the paraphernalia that travels under the banner of King Tut
return – yet again? The widespread distribution of images ultimately
increases attendance at the museum.
While the reasons for prohibiting the distribution of quality images
online are frequently founded in an intention, however unrealistic, to
benefit from their potential commercial exploitation, there exists as
well the notion of controlling the proper educational and proper
creative use of those images. This notion derives from something of a
paternalistic stance by museums that has existed for more than a
century, that they alone can properly interpret the works in their
collections. By attempting to hold works of art within an
institutional voice, the single interpretation has often effectively
isolated those works from a more engaged public experience. This topic
is much discussed today in many museums (also now with respect to
audio tours), and while there has been a broad attempt to come to
terms with the notion of single institutional voice, most museums
continue to control all voices but their own by their restriction in
the use of images of their works.
What else motivates the notion of a proper use of images of works of
art? Museums argue that the value of the original work diminishes in
some way with familiarity – the kind of familiarity that might be
brought on by the lack of appropriate explanation and context setting,
by subsequent creative use, and by any creative use that may not be
considered flattering to the collecting institution. But the net
effect of experience with commercial and creative reuses of an image
can best be demonstrated by looking to the Mona Lisa. When viewing the
Mona Lisa at the Louvre, do we laugh at Leonardo da Vinci's famous
painting because others have made a long career of spinning off wall
paper, cookie jars, cigar bands, and so on, that use the reproduced
image of the Mona Lisa? Do we fail to react to the mysterious Mona
Lisa smile in the painting because we've seen her smile so often and
so ubiquitously in other contexts? Museums' collections of public
domain art, along with images of public domain works in libraries and
archives, represent a public trust, a public commons of cultural
heritage. While we currently do not find it odd to be asked to pay for
access to an online library of digital images of public domain works
of art, we would find it untenable to have to pay for such access upon
entering a library to consult public domain materials. And while each
museum must establish its own values, most such institutions would
readily agree that their values fundamentally include concern for the
past and future of ideas and creativity as they relate to the objects
they shepherd. An institutional analysis of income might suggest,
museum by museum, that the take at the front gate far outweighs or
could far outweigh all net licensing revenues.
Would it not, then, be reasonable to put high quality images of public
domain art back into the public domain, unfettered and unrestricted
for all? Would it not be in everyone's better interest to make it easy
to share these resources, such as using the Internet to provide access
to them for public education and benefit? While looked at through the
lens of potential commercial licensing income, this may seem too
trivial an issue to consume leadership time, but looked at through the
lens of a healthy public commons for creativity, there may be no
easier or better service for museum leaders to provide.
This article has argued that making visual reproductions of public
domain art works available for use and reuse without charge would
likely benefit the collecting institutions and would contribute to the
public good. Nevertheless, there are several possible secondary
consequences of acting on this proposal. To a large extent, those
consequences are unpredictable even though they may be anticipated.
Any individual museum that unilaterally withdraws its assertions of
intellectual property rights in images of public domain works, which
seems the most likely starting point for any change in policy, may
earn a reputation of having effectively undermined the assumed future
potential for all fine arts image providers. To most users of images,
one Monet is pretty much like another for a DVD cover that is to be
mainly blue and green. One Boucher may be much like the next for a
Mother's Day greeting card. For these purposes, an unencumbered image
is much more likely to be used – by almost everyone – than one
available for use under license and with restrictions. A large
institution may be accused of using its size and power to undercut
others with some variation of "they could do this because they have
revenues from tickets or their bookstore or endowment." While that
argument would not be a particularly meaningful response to the policy
issue at hand, it might be effective spin.
On the other hand, a potential upside may coincide well with a closely
related issue, namely promoting the management of and respect for
intellectual property rights in works that are not in the public
domain. Permitting an enormous wealth of images of finely crafted
works to circulate freely may act as something of a pressure release –
assuming at least some pent-up public demand for available images.
More importantly, if properly handled, this opportunity to increase
the public domain could focus attention on intellectual property
rights in a very positive way, creating an opportunity for any museum
to explain the value of respecting rights for works still under
copyright. The current time frame for copyright may seem a long time,
but it is an appropriately ephemeral period of control compared to the
unlimited time span implicit in most current museum practice.
Easy and unfettered access seems likely to make a museum's collection
online a more attractive and consequently more used resource. That
attractiveness might be leveraged into revenue by providing
opportunities within a general public view of the collection online to
acquire – for a fee – cards, posters, and other products. It is true
that without the exclusivity guaranteed by intellectual property
control, other market forces may come to bear. But aren't those forces
already familiar and similar to those that affect the popularity of a
museum's collections and exhibitions in a larger world of education
and of leisure time activities?
Obviously these opportunities are available to museums only because of
the Internet, where a mouse click is Valéry's conjecture that "we
shall be supplied with visual or auditory images, which will appear
and disappear at a simple movement of the hand..."
This piece has been contributed in memory of the late Stephen Weil,
former Deputy Director, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and
scholar emeritus, Center for Education and Museum Studies, Smithsonian
Institution, who passed away in August 2005.
Notes and References
 Walter Benjamin, Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen
 Paul Valéry, Pièces sur l'art, (Le conquête de l'ubiquité).
 "What we have right now is an exponentially expanding intellectual
land grab, a land grab that is not only bad but dumb, about which the
progressive community is largely silent, the center overly sanguine,
and the right wing short-sighted." James Boyle, Shamans, Software and
Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society (1966).
 BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY, LTD. v. COREL CORP., 36 F. Supp. 2d 191
<http://www.panix.com/~squigle/rarin/corel2.html> which reveals a very
interesting response from one part of the museum community.
 While the revenue streams from image licensing hardly rise to the
bar set by the merchandizing activities of the most ambitious of
museum stores, which has been a point for questioning tax-exempt
status, its impact on access and so on mission is arguably greater and
might be more visible in discussions of nonprofit sector policy as,
e.g., introductory chapter of Marion R. Fremont-Smith, Governing
Nonprofit Organizations, 2004 (pp. 1-18).
 The most recent study on this was commissioned by the Mellon
Foundation and delivered by Simon Tanner for King's Digital
Consultancy Services, Reproduction charging models and rights policy
for digital images in American art museums, 2004, which pointed to 56
of 100 museums with budgets over $10 million receiving less than
$50,000 annually from digital rights transactions. This study did not
address the policy issue of this paper – except to ask museums if
unauthorized use of images of public domain works constituted 'fair
use' (p. 31) – but limited its conclusions to managing rights
services, pricing structures and revenue. Previous studies have tended
to focus on the revenue potential of image licensing without regard to
the status of the intellectual property in the underlying work. For
example, The Marketing Works, Like Light Through a Prism: Analyzing
Commercial Markets for Cultural Heritage Content, January 1999, and
Glen Bloom, An Analysis of Economic Models for Administering Museum
Intellectual Property, March 1997, "In addition to serving their
traditional role of making their collections available to the public,
particularly by licensing their images, museums may be able to
capitalize on the value of their collections..."
 The Tanner report cited above notes, p. 35, "Everyone interviewed
wants to recoup costs but almost none claimed to actually achieve or
expected to achieve this." And "Even those services that claimed to
recoup full costs generally did not account fully for salary costs or
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I am saddened about the current situation about the National Portrait
Gallery and the high resolution pictures that were lifted from its website.
The problem that I have is in the vocabulary used, it paints the NPG as our
enemy and we are to use pitch forks and fiery speeches to make them aware of
our displeasure and our wish to fight. It is sad because it is exactly the
kind of rhetoric that may damage our budding relations with GLAM in for
instance the Netherlands. (GLAM is galleries libraries archives museums).
There is much happening in the Netherlands when it comes to the collections
of GLAM. There are limited subsidies for digitising material and this is
happening. Much of the material becomes available on the Internet. We are
talking and have been talking for many months about sharing and using our
digital heritage on Commons and Wikipedia. There have been talks with
national organisations and individual museums. There are many powerful
arguments why we want to partner with GLAM.
- we need many illustrations for our Wikipedias and we want to have a
choice of illustrations for all our Wikipedias
- it is important that we have provenance for our illustrations, not just
for copyright reasons but particularly to prove the value as an illustration
- photoshop or gimp can give a picture a whole new meaning
- by partnering with GLAM we open their world to our communities, Wiki
loves art is one project that shows that we can
- by prartnering with GLAM we gain in respectability
Recently I have been blogging about our budding relation with the Tropen
museum. We are looking at an initial upload of some 100.000 illustrations
that are of particular relevance to our Indonesian projects. These
illustrations will become available at a similar resolution as the ones of
the Bundesarchiv. They will be old photos and other flat techniques but also
photos of three dimensional objects. We are talking on how we can grow the
relation in the future. We talked about releasing high resolution scans of
material that needs restoration, we talked about their object of the month
There are two other GLAM that we are talking to at the moment. They are as
relevant as the Tropen musuem. I am fearful about the development of our
relation with them and with the development of the national organisations. I
am saddened because I fear that it will now be not as easy to develop all