By Kristine Hoff Meyer, Danish Agency for Culture
There are many advantages to cloud computing which could possibly be taken advantage of by cultural and heritage institutions. Cost-effectiveness and access to resources beyond the abilities of the individual institutions are among the primary advantages.
A cloudy scene at a Carmelite convent in Elsinore, Denmark. The Danish Agency for Culture, CC BY.
This assumption is the basis for the LoCloud project, which aims to make local cultural heritage information available on Europeana by taking advantage of cloud computing. LoCloud will support small and medium-sized institutions in aggregating their content, by using the cloud to provide services.
The first deliverable in the LoCloud project is a report on the state of the art of cloud services in the cultural heritage sector. The first section of the report offers a general description of cloud computing. The second section presents an introduction to the uptake of cloud computing by small and medium-sized enterprises in the EU. In the third and final section, special attention is paid to the needs of small and medium-sized cultural heritage institutions.
Though cloud computing is still emerging, a stamp of approval is that The European Commission has adopted a cloud computing strategy based on the reports from expert working groups and open consultations. It was adopted in September 2012 and is part of the 'Digital Agenda for Europe.'
The LoCloud Plenary meeting
There is high awareness and willingness to participate in cloud-based development from the heritage institutions and agencies voicing their opinion in this report. The barriers to participating cited are mainly lack of knowledge and skills, trust and legal issues. The main legal obstacle is the fact that many institutions are charged with the governance of their data and there will often be restrictions as to where that data may be placed and to whom it may be given.
There are a number of Saas (Software as a service) providers for the cultural sector. Some of the commercial vendors of collections management systems offer cloud-based versions of their software, and in the library domain the OCLC offers a number of relevant services. However, none of these come with plug-in aggregation tools for Europeana.
There is still a need for online tools with a very low barrier to entry which are suited to the needs (and budgets) of smaller local and community museums. This is the window of opportunity for the LoCloud project. The LoCloud project will also cooperate with other Europeana related projects especially Europeana Cloud.
Extended blog post by Paul Keller, Kennisland.
On 5 December, the European Commission launched its much anticipated public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules. This blog summarises key points of the consultation and asks all memory institutions to comment on the consultation - more details at the end of the post.
This consultation is the first visible sign of the second track of the Commission’s attempt to modernise the EU rules (the first track consisted of the Licences for Europe stakeholder dialogue). According to the Commission the focus of this effort is on:
'… ensuring that the EU copyright regulatory framework stays fit for purpose in the digital environment to support creation and innovation, tap the full potential of the Single Market, foster growth and investment in our economy and promote cultural diversity.'
For many memory institutions, it has been obvious for a long time that the current EU copyright framework is not fit for purpose for these organisations to fulfil their missions in the digital environment. The problems related to copyright have been frequently discussed in the the context of Europeana and other digitisation efforts. While there has been some progress (most notably the 2012 EU directive on certain permitted uses of Orphan Works), it is clear that there are still huge barriers facing memory institutions wanting to operate in the digital environment.
From the perspective of memory institutions, it is therefore very welcome that the European Commission is now reviewing the EU copyright rules and that issues related to memory institutions are part of this review. This gives these institutions the opportunity to draw attention to the problems they are facing and to express the policy outcomes that would support them in fulfilling their public missions.
Mash-up using a public domain work by Paul Keller. Based on The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt.
The consultation document (pdf) covers a wide range of issues from the functioning of the single market for copyrighted works, to linking and browsing, copyright term duration, registration of copyrighted works and exceptions and limitations for memory institutions, education, research, persons with disabilities and ‘user generated content’. In addition, there are questions about private copying and levies, the fair remuneration of authors and performers, respect for rights and the possibility of a single EU copyright title. Finally, there is an open question that allows respondents to flag issues that the Commission is not explicitly asking about.
All of this comes in the form of a 37-page document that contains 80 questions. The size and thematic breadth of this document may be intimidating at first sight, but the Commission explicitly mentions that respondents to the consultation can focus on a subset of the questions. The consultation contains a number of sections that are relevant to the work of memory institutions. The first of these are in the section on ‘Rights and the functioning of the Single Market’.
Registration and term duration
Question 15–18 on page 14 deal with the registration of works and other subject matter. In the discussion about orphan works, a general registration system has been suggested as one way to prevent future orphan works, so this section may be of interest to memory institutions.
Question 20 on page 16 deals with the duration of copyright protection. The Commission wants to know if the current term of protection is still appropriate in the digital environment or if it should be shorter or longer. Memory institutions frequently argue that the current term of protection (life of the author plus 70 years) is too long when compared with the commercial life of many of the objects that can be found in the collections of these institutions. This prevents them from making works in their collections available online for a disproportionate amount of time, resulting in much of the 20th century material that is held by institutions being currently unavailable.
Limitations and exceptions
The next section of the consultation focuses on limitations and exceptions in the single market. Exceptions and limitations are an essential part of the European copyright system that ensure user rights that create a balance to the exclusive right of creators. The existing copyright directive contains a list of 21 exceptions and limitations that may be implemented by national legislators. Of these 21 exceptions and limitations, one (the exception for temporary copies), is mandatory and all the other ones are optional. The member states have chosen to implement these exceptions to varying degrees, which means that users (such as memory institutions) in one member state may be allowed to make certain uses without permission from rights holders while the same type of user may not have the right to do so in another member state. Questions 21 22, 26 and 27 focus on this issue.
From the perspective of memory institutions who are increasingly cooperating across member state borders (via Europeana or otherwise), a level playing field would be desirable. In addition, this section contains questions dealing with more flexibility when it comes to exceptions and limitations (questions 24, 25 and 26). Some memory institutions have argued that a more flexible system, such as fair use, would provide them with more room to operate in the digital environment. This argument has gained credibility by the recent judgement in the Google Books case in the US, that allows Google and their library partners to digitise in-copyright books without having to obtain permission from the rights holders.
Libraries, Archives and Museums
The next section specifically deals with the scope of the exceptions benefitting memory institutions. While the consultation only mentions libraries and archives in the text of the questions, it is important to point out that the copyright directive explicitly refers to ‘publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments or museums, or archives’ (in article 5(2)c). Given this, museums should also answer these questions as they are equally relevant for them.
The first two sets of questions (28 - 35) deal with existing exceptions for preservation and archiving and the consultation of digitised works via dedicated terminals on the premises of establishments. Many memory organisations have argued that the existing limitations and exceptions, where they are implemented, are too restrictive. The making of preservation and/or archive copies should be allowed without restrictions and that memory institutions should be allowed to provide access to their collections via electronic means also from outside of their premises. Expanding both of these exceptions and making them mandatory would allow memory institutions to better leverage the opportunities created by digitisation.
The next set of questions (36–39) deals with e-lending. In the past, libraries and other institutions have expressed the need for new rules to allow them to lend electronic copies of works, as consumers are increasingly moving to digital forms of consumption. The questions allow institutions to make the case for electronic lending arrangements.
The final set of questions of this section concerns mass digitisation projects. The questionnaire points to both the 2012 directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works and the 2011 MOU on out-of-commerce-works as efforts undertaken to address the copyright issues facing institutions engaged in mass digitisation projects. The two questions asked (40 and 41) present institutions with an opportunity to point out the shortcomings of both the Orphan Works Directive and the MOU on Out of Commerce works. Question 41 explicitly asks if it is necessary to develop new mechanisms that enable institutions to digitise their collections without running into copyright issues. In the past, both the introduction of Extended Collective Licensing arrangements and the introduction of a more general exception benefitting memory institutions have been proposed. Such an exception would allow institutions to digitise and make available online for non-commercial purposes works that they have in their collections.
Responding to the consultation
The deadline for responses to the consultation is 5 February 2014. This consultation provides a unique opportunity for memory institutions to make their position on copyright rules in the digital environment heard. For this position to be clearly heard, it is important that as many institutions as possible react to the consultation highlighting the concerns of the cultural heritage sector.
To give strength to the viewpoint of our memory institutions and to highlight the particular issues it faces in areas such as cross border access and non commercial access to collections, the Europeana Foundation is therefore proposing to coordinate a consensus-driven collective response. Europeana is asking its Board and Network for a mandate to lead such a joint, coordinated response for its members as well as actively encouraging member associations and individual organisations to complete the questionnaire and participate in developing such a coordinated, consensual position.
Information on helping develop this can be found in the Advocacy section of Europeana Professional. We would like associations and individuals to send their positions vis-a-vis the public consultation, to give us copies of their completed questionnaires, to participate in a copyright review working group and express their opinions by commenting on this blog.
Most projects under the Europeana banner don't operate as isolated islands, but have many connections with and similar challenges as other projects.
This is particularly true for Europeana Cloud. As the project is developing a sustainable, open infrastructure, allowing for the upload and then the re-use of metadata related to Europe's cultural heritage, there are many possibilities for developing tools on top of this infrastructure.
These will be tools of use both to aggregators and data providers, but also for those providing third-party tools for end-users in different sectors, for example, research, education or the creative industries.
To ensure that the connections between different projects can be exploited, a Cloud Coordination Group has been established.
Besides members of Europeana Cloud, this group includes representatives from the LoCloud project, which is coordinated by Riksarkivet (National Archives of Norway) with MDR Partners. Whereas Europeana Cloud is focusing on an infrastructure for aggregators, LoCloud aims to provide a cloud-based service for aggregating and storing data.
However, LoCloud has a very distinct focus on providing a tailored service for small and medium-sized cultural institutions. Discussions within the Coordination Group have therefore begun on how the LoCloud services might be made sustainable by integration with Europeana Cloud; something made much easier by the pre-existing technical interoperability between the two projects.
Europeana Creative is the other critical member of the group. One part of this project is to develop Europeana Labs as a forum for experimentation with Europeana's data for the creative industries (e.g. publishing, tourism).
There are obvious connections with Europeana Cloud here - how will Labs exploit the data uploaded to Europeana Cloud? What kind of data will be available? And under what licensing conditions? Indeed, a Revised Europeana Licensing Framework is a common goal of the two projects.
The Cloud Coordination Group also invites other members with overlapping interests. The TagCloud project aims to enhance experience of cultural heritage by sharing users' preferences via a cloud-based infrastructure. The group will be working on exploring how best their deliverables can be incorporated into the other projects in the group.
If you feel you have a project that could contribute to this group, please contact the Europeana Cloud coordinator, Alastair Dunning (contact details on the right).
On 13 December 2013, the Europeana Fashion portal became available to the public for the first time. Europeana Fashion allows everyone to discover hundreds of thousands of fashion items from 19 leading European fashion and costume institutions on a single website.
The Europeana Fashion portal offers access to exquisite fashion objects – drawings, garments and accessories - some of which have never been seen on the internet before. All come with detailed information written by experts from partnering institutions.
'Haute Couture collection Spring-Summer 2011', Iris Van Herpen, Catwalk Pictures, CC BY-NC-ND; 'Haute Couture collection Spring-Summer 2011', Christian Dior, Catwalk Pictures, CC BY-NC-ND; 'Mustard Colour Satin', Roger Vivier, Rossimoda Shoe Museum, CC BY-SA.
The availability of the website marks the beginning of stage two of the Europeana Fashion portal which is being developed in three stages. In addition to ongoing development, Europeana Fashion is actively seeking contributions from the public on how to improve the site. An easy-to-use feedback form is available on the website.
'Kollektionsübersicht der Modelle von Nina Ricci, Paris, H/ W 1963/ 1964', Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, CC BY-NC-SA
The results of the ongoing development and feedback will be used in the second version of the Europeana Fashion portal, set to be released in July 2014. A final version with more than 700,000 items will be launched in February 2015.
The Europeana Fashion project is coordinated by Fondazione Rinascimento Digitale.
Will the Europeana Cloud service be free? What types of metadata will be accepted? Will the documentation and standards developed through the project be Open Source so that others can benefit from them?
These were a few of the many questions posed by around 60 cultural heritage professionals at the latest Europeana Cloud workshop, which took place in Rotterdam as part of Europeana's Annual General Meeting (see the presentation from the event by project co-ordinator Alastair Dunning).
Asking questions at the Europeana Cloud workshop at Europeana's 2013 AGM.
We're currently working to update the Europeana Cloud website with answers to many of these Frequently Asked Questions. In the meantime, we've selected four questions from the workshop to answer here, in this blog post.
Q1. Who is Europeana Cloud for?
The first versions of Europeana Cloud will be for the three aggregators in the project: The European Library, the Polish Digital Library Federation and Europeana itself. Europeana Cloud aims to be a data storage platform that replaces their current systems. As Europeana Cloud develops, we will open membership to aggregators and cultural heritage organisations (likely in early 2016). They will be able to use the cloud to upload and share metadata and content among members. Finally, data will also be made available to end users via APIs and third-party tools, according to access conditions stipulated by the data provider.
Q2. Will the Europeana Cloud service be free?
The business model underpinning the service is still being developed. We'll aim to make many features and services available for free or at a minimal cost, however it's unlikely that we'll be able to offer free storage for content providers. Our goal is to develop a system that offers clear value-for-money over existing options.
Q3. What types of metadata will be accepted and under what license?
That needs to be decided through consultation with project partners, potential content providers and the researchers who we hope will use the content. We naturally would like as much of the content as possible to be available under a CC0, to enable re-use by the research community. Equally, we are aware that some types of metadata (eg. rich geotagged metadata) may require difference licenses and will be exploring the issues around that.
Q4. Will Europeana Cloud make its documentation and standards Open Source?
Yes! We will adhere to the spirit of all Europeana projects and make as much of our work Open Source as possible. You can already read the reports prepared in the first year of the project here on our website, including the initial proposed architecture and the first sets of metadata that will be added to the cloud.
If you’d like to learn more about the project, and want to be notified as it opens to new partners, please sign up for our newsletter. You are also welcome to contact project coordinator Alastair Dunning (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.