Bringing World Heritage to the World: Creative Commons Day 3 Blog

A cancelled plane provided the opportunity to attend Day 3 of the Creative Commons Global Summit, and a great chance to hear about what the movement is doing to build on the 1.4bn works already under CC licences, as well as some of the threats bad policy can pose to this.

The challenge faced – how to help people find and make use of this wealth of content – is familiar to libraries. And many of those most active in the discussions worked in libraries, both in organising knowledge, but also in helping users build new ideas and innovations on top of this.

This work is timely. Cultural heritage institutions are increasingly under pressure to show the impact of their work and collections. Digital humanities techniques allow researchers to uncover meaning and spot trends in heritage documents. There are new possibilities to draw on (remix) works to create new ideas. And as IFLA underlined in the Development and Access to Information Report (in partnership with TASCHA), meaningful access includes the ability to apply, share and create.

Creative Commons’ latest efforts focus on developing both a catalogue, and a search function that will enable users to immediately find works that they can use – and re-use – freely – a major effort. The idea of an Open GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) platform will be one to follow.

Wikipedia is also working on similar projects – notably through encouraging cultural heritage institutions to upload information about their collections. And of course every digital library project, notably DPLA and Europeana – is involved in this same mission. There are also efforts to understand the difference they make – their impact – and we’re looking forward to a session on this subject at WLIC.


Other sessions provided a reminder that for all of the positivity and proactivity of Creative Commons, the need to engage on legislative reform is still pressing. These reforms can provide both an opportunity – and a threat – when it comes to possibilities to preserve, copy and re-use works.

A particular concern is efforts to make compensation for rightholders obligatory. While this may be intended to protect artists from losing their rights to publishers or record companies, it also makes open licensing effectively impossible. For Creative Commons this is a big concern.

These provisions can appear in domestic reforms, or through trade deals. While there is some evidence that copyright reforms are beginning to take account of the need to support access and use, trade deals (often informed by discussions only with industry groups) often remain harmful. Progress at the World Intellectual Property Organisation could help halt the erosion of rights at the global level.