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2 minutes to read Posted on Monday September 7, 2015

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Introduction to the Europeana Access and Re-use Framework

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This contribution has been written by Maarten Zeinstra from our partner, Kennisland. Kennisland is a frequent contributor to the legal frameworks of Europeana projects and part of WP5 of Europeana Cloud.

As Europeana Cloud nears its final stages, it’s a good time to discuss how members of Europeana Cloud and the general public can get access to material stored in this shared infrastructure of cultural heritage.

Europeana Cloud can store data in all kinds of formats. Theoretically, you could store raw data, images, texts files, xml files, binary files, etc. Some of these files in your collection are not meant to be shared with people outside your institution. Europeana Cloud understands the heterogeneity of the stored data and provides a tailor-made approach for managing this.

You have control over who can access your data

First and foremost, you, as the cultural institution, has control over who can access your data. No other member of Europeana Cloud will have access to the data in the system unless you provide them with explicit permission. Even then, we offer a range of permissions that you can provide to other members of Europeana Cloud. For instance, you can give them permission to read your data, update it and/or remove it. We believe this is the level of granularity that the users of Europeana Cloud need.

Carisbrooke Castle; the Gateway, Rijksmuseum, public domain.

Making data publicly available

Sometimes, for projects or for, you’ll need to expose data in Europeana Cloud to the public. This is also necessary if you want to use Europeana Cloud for your own sites and projects. This means everyone with a URL to your data can view it. Members of Europeana Cloud can choose which data is exposed to the general public. We do not allow people who are not logged in to Europeana Cloud to make changes to the data.

Access permissions and re-use permissions

Access permissions like being able to read, write, update or delete data in Europeana Cloud is only one side of the coin. Next to these access permissions, the system also supports the storing and communication of re-use permissions. The legal status and the re-use permissions are communicated by the Cloud Re-use Statements. These specify whether rights are reserved, the data is in the public domain, if the work is licensed or if the work is orphaned. Europeana Cloud initially uses the statements that Europeana Licensing Frameworks provides.1

Access permissions and sharing permissions are applied independently to one another. It is not mandatory to share material that has fallen in the public domain or share openly licensed data, although we do encourage it. You can allow other members to update data where rights are reserved, as long as you have permission of the rightsholder to do so. The re-use permissions communicate to users what they can do outside the scope of Europeana Cloud.

Limits of sharing

Whenever you share data outside of your organisation and you do communicate that the data is in the public domain or openly licensed we do impose some restrictions to protect the people who use your data with these permissions. We do not allow changing of re-use statements to less permissive statements unless they are in accordance with our take-down policy (forthcoming).

This is due to the nature of the public domain and Creative Commons-license. Creative Commons-licenses are not retractable. You cannot decide that you give permission to re-use data under the sole condition that the re-user mentions the name of the creator and the license (CC BY) and later decide you want to change this to a license that does not allow for commercial reuse (CC BY-NC). Once data has been licensed under one of these licenses, the license remains valid for the duration of the underlying intellectual property. You can, however, always provide the data under a more permissive license / statement.

We are currently implementing the Europeana Access and Re-use Framework. Please contact Maarten Zeinstra ([email protected]) if you have any questions. Please also read our deliverable on this subject here.

1. See: