We transform the world with culture! We want to build on Europe’s rich heritage and make it easier for people to use, whether for work, for learning or just for fun.
This is the mission Europeana-host of one of the world’s largest cultural heritage collections- has been dedicated to since its foundation. Working closely with the European Union, the site gives access to more than 50 million artworks, books, sounds, videos etc.
It operates under a Creative Commons license, which gives free access to all content. However, with increasing changes to the Terms and Policies, ‘giving credit where credit is due,’ both to the artist and the institution and arising complications regarding the modifications of content, concerns over the possibility of going under copyright restrictions seem more vivid than ever.
What is with the sudden shift? Why deny the public access to their cultural heritage? Admittedly, its online-based database needs to rely on some sort of protection, but is ‘locking away’ the answer?
The case of Europeana is an interesting one when it comes to licenses and copyright. Although the majority of the content is in the public domain, there are also orphan works, ‘out of copyright’ and ‘rights reserved’ ones.
Operating under a Creative Commons license has influentially positive outcomes: promoting cultural awareness, encouraging creativity through knowledge, increasing the interest in art by simplifying access to it, fulfilling educational and informational purposes.
Going under copyright restrictions might be justified by acknowledging the necessity for such works to be appropriately protected, but, without any doubt, would ruin the idea of the site: popularizing Europe’s rich cultural heritage through professional arrangement and free access.
Ultimately, such restrictions would not only destroy a safely stored database of artistic and cultural treasures, but would also limit knowledge.
Something, which should never be allowed.