blog: Future after Images for the Future

After two days of intense and informative lectures and panel discussions, the Economies of the Commons 3 conference closed with a summary of the Images for the Future project. As the initiator of the project, Hans Westerhof (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) gave a revealing summary of the project from the operational perspective. He outlined the project from the very beginning to the end, achievement and lessons learned. He emphasised that the success of the project was largely due to the budget and cost benefit analysis at the beginning and the government funding throughout. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Martin Berendse (Dutch National Archives) was unable to attend; Hans Westerhof presented the next presentation on behalf of him. It summarised the project from a policy oriented point of view, and emphasised the importance of collaboration between institutions and the government, he also pointed out the issues of copyright. Marjan Hammersma (Director General Culture & Media, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) then illustrated the project from the government point of view, and expressed the significance of such a project to the government. Next speaker, Prof. Bernt Hugenholtz (Dutch Institute for Information Law) focused on the copyright issue, he analysed the current situation as well as the difficulties for solving the problem.

All the three speakers then joined Sandra den Hamer (EYE), Paul Keller (KL) and Bodien Abels (Dutch National Archives) to a final panel discussion, titled Strategy & Agenda for the Future. The discussion was mainly around topics such as the changing role of the memory institutions, the future for online access, government funding and copyright in the digital world. Representatives from different institutions expressed both their achievement and lessons learned from the project and also acknowledged the government’s support for such unprecedented project. The role of the memory institution is to open their collections to the public as much as they can. The project is just the first step in this process, with its large scale of digitisation, and the next step would be how to make them available to the public. The common agreement is that copyright law is the biggest obstacle for online access and it is not suitable for the digital world anymore. However, as it involves many different parties, it is unlikely to be solved in the near future. Different institutions have their own strategies for dealing with copyright issue, but there is no agreement on a large scale with all the parties involved.

It is apparent that copyright is the biggest issue throughout the conference, and yet there is no immediate solution. Since the huge success of the digitisation of the Images for the Future project is based on collaborations. Now it is hoped that different institutions and the government can collaborate once again to solve the copyright issue and make the digitised cultural heritages free for public access.

by Bin Li


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