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Book reviews: a call to arms for open licensing

26 June 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Sharon Bacon


THIS book is a passionate call to arms for open licensing. The introduction reminds us of the free at-the-point-of-use ethos that cultural heritage institutions have adopted. The editors argue that this should be no different when collection items move from the analogue world to the digital. The additional opportunities for widening engagement and creative re-use that open licensing afford are also held up as reasons to adopt such policies. Given the recent flurry of press coverage about UK museums charging fees for images of out-of-copy- right works, the title is timely.

Key to understanding why the open licensing movement is necessary is an appreciation of copyright and licensing more generally. The editors provide an easy-to-read overview of these topics with a nice glossary of licencing terminology and an explanation of the various Creative Commons licences. A welcome inclusion is an interesting chapter on the history of the open movement. Nearly all the case studies in the second half of the book are UK-based and most deal with digitisation projects; the two exceptions are the accounts from the British Library (open metadata) and the University of Edinburgh (open educational resources). Interestingly, many of the case studies reported similar challenges, for example concerns about the impact on commercial opportunities or the difficulties in selecting the most suitable CC licence.

However, all unanimously concluded that the benefits of open licensing far outweigh the risks. The book finishes by providing practical advice on how to implement open licensing in your own institution. This book is both accessible and comprehensive. It is highly recommended as essential reading for anybody working in the Glam sector who is new to these issues or whose institutions are considering releasing and sharing their content more openly.

Louise Ashton
British Library

Open Licensing for Cultural Heritage, Hamilton, G., & Saunderson, F. (eds). Open Licensing for Cultural Heritage. London: Facet Publishing, 2017. 210 pp. ISBN: 978 1 7833 0185 0. £64.95, £55.95 to CILIP members.



Contributor: Louise Ashton @library_lou
Published:  26 June 2018


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