New Europeana Exchange Agreement: CC0

New Europeana Exchange Agreement: CC0

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A new data exchange agreement for Europeana adopts CC0 as license.

The Hague, 23 September 2011

(by Ton Zijlstra)

Europeana, the European collection of cultural heritage metadata, has adopted a new data exchange agreement. Under this new agreement, meta-data provided by Europeana network partners is being released under a Creative Commons 0 v1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

This means meta-data published by Europeana can be used by anyone for any purpose, including commercial purposes.

This new data exchange agreement make it possible to execute the Europeana Strategic Plan 2011-2015. From the Europeana FAQ:

"Between autumn 2010 and spring 2011, Europeana held extensive consultations with its key stakeholder groups: content providers and aggregators, users, policy makers and the market. The clear message it received was that Europeana should be more than a destination portal. It should act as a facilitator, where the aggregated and enriched data is widely distributed, through partners' sites, embedded in educational applications and re-used by the creative industries.
In the Europeana Strategic Plan 2011-2015, the Europeana Foundation lays out 4 strategic paths: aggregation of cultural content; facilitation of innovation in the cultural heritage sector through knowledge transfer and advocacy; distribution of the content into users' workflow; and advancement of new ways to engage users with culture.
These plans cannot be realised under the current data provider and aggregator agreements which grant Europeana the right to allow third parties to re-use data only for non-commercial purposes.
The Europeana Foundation is therefore promoting a new data agreement with content providers and aggregators under which metadata delivered to Europeana would be released under a CC0 Public Domain Dedication."

Previously the data exchange agreement only allowed for non-commercial re-use of the published meta-data. Europeana has seven reasons why dropping the non-commercial clause from the agreement is key to realizing its strategy:

  1. The non-commercial clause severely restricts Europeana in its choice of partners and the type of projects it can undertake (under the current terms Europeana engages in partnerships with non-commercial entities). Being limited to non-commercial partners makes it impossible for Europeana to achieve the goals formulated in the strategic plan. It cannot, for instance, make the metadata available to commercial providers of school interactive white boards; it cannot make the connections with mobile phone operators to be able to feed cultural heritage data into geo aware applications; it cannot work with genealogical ventures to provide background data, etc.
  2. The non-commercial restriction prevents Europeana from making available the data as Linked Open Data (see below). Linked Data published under a non-commercial license makes such data incompatible with the core of Linked Open Data, which severely limits its usability for applications based on the Linked Open Data principles.
  3. The non-commercial restriction will prevent full implementation of the Europeana Data Model (EDM) that has been created and implemented by the providers themselves. The EDM is based on the linked open data concept and allows for the integration of commercial ontological resources, translation of metadata and integration with other sources under the same standard licenses. Using a license such as CC0 allows the level of flexibility to accommodate the diversity of formats and field sets of EDM.
  4. The non-commercial restriction makes data published by Europeana incompatible with Wikipedia (Wikipedia insists that all data and content contributed to the project are licensed without restrictions on commercial or other forms of use). This means that the data and information published by Europeana will exist alongside and in competition to the information made available by Wikipedia. In the current situation where Wikipedia is the first point of reference for factual information online, this carries the risk that much of Europeana's efforts will remain invisible to a broad public.
  5. Europeana's data providers vary widely and some of them are commercial entities. As long as the non-commercial restriction remains in place this means that Europeana cannot share back the data with all of its providers.
  6. The terms "commercial use" and "non-commercial use" are open to interpretation. This means that the use of a non-commercial use restriction generates a level of legal uncertainty. Publishing the data aggregated by Europeana as Linked Open Data also makes it impossible to effectively enforce a non-commercial restriction.
  7. Once data is on the open web it becomes very difficult to enforce restrictions on it. Europeana feels that it is better to only release data that will not cause problems to the institution if it gets re-used.

All details and further information on the new data exchange agreement can be found on the Europeana website. The new agreement needs to be signed by the partners that deliver data to Europeana directly by December 31st 2011. A grace period will be in effect until the end of June 2011. From July 1st 2012 all meta-data available through Europeana will fall under the CC0 license. The grace period allows partners to update or remove data from Europeana if they want. Also any data in Europeana not covered by a new agreement by July 1st 2012 will become unavailable through Europeana.