Copyright and museums
National Gallery of Scotland. Source: Wikipedia.
National Museum Directors Council (UK), The Network of European Museum Organisations (NEMO) has published a Europe-wide study on copyright and museums, NMDC Newsletter, October 2015
Copyright can be a major obstacle to museums putting their assets online, because the laws of individual countries are complex and because copyright varies over international boundaries. This can either prevent museums from putting their holdings online, or cause a major drain on resources and this is particularly true of audio-visual and 20th and 21st century works.
The report also found that while creators of original content are often happy to work with museums, reaching an agreement with heirs and estates is often more difficult. Charges can be unaffordable for less wealthy institutions.
NEMO is now working towards a more harmonised system, and invites museums to make contact. Meanwhile, the National Gallery of Scotland has announced that it intends to put a third of its 24 million items online over the next decade. It is one of the largest digitisation schemes in Europe.
The report can be accessed here.