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The Carrot vs. the Stick: can copyright be used to enhance access to cultural heritage resources in the networked environment?

Rina Elster Pantalony , Canadian Heritage Information Network, Canada

Session: Information Policy

In using new media as a means for providing access to cultural heritage collections, it is inevitable that museums, as content providers and facilitators, face the "copyright challenge". This is especially so, since copyright, is not apparent in the Internet environment. Copyright can act as a barrier, limiting electronic access to museum content due to conditions placed on the use of certain museum intellectual property. Copyright can, however, act as an enhancement, so that museum intellectual property, if properly cleared, can pave the way to electronic access for the largest possible audience. Two legal issues are paramount for museums to take advantage of copyright to enhance access to museum collections:

1. Copyright on databases: Museums accumulate knowledge and information in databases. Such databases may also include images. By providing the public access to these databases, museums increase public access to their collections. What is the copyright status on these databases and their underlying data? Does it enhance or preclude access? A general comparative presentation will be made looking at the development of the law in North America and in Europe, particularly the EC Database Directive as it compares to NAFTA provisions, using museum examples to place theory into practice. The presentation will also include issues affecting natural sciences museums.

2. The status of copyright on images and photographs: As part of the above issue, the decision in Bridgeman v Corel has alerted us to a weakness in copyright protection for museum intellectual property. The decision will be summarised and discussed in terms of its impact on museum databases that include images i.e., what impact it may have on the copyright protection of the photograph and digitized image and what impact may it have on the copyrightability of the database housing the images

Due to the unavoidable absense of the author, Rina Elster Pantalony, this paper will be presented by her colleague, Barbara Rottenburg.