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How open is OpenGLAM? Identifying barriers to commercial and non-commercial reuse of digitised art images

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Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Documentation
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2019


Purpose – In recent years OpenGLAM and the broader open license movement have been gaining momentum in the cultural heritage sector. We examine OpenGLAM from the perspective of end users,identifying barriers for commercial and non-commercial reuse of openly licensed art images.
Design/methodology/approach – Following a review of the literature, we scope out how end users can discover institutions participating in OpenGLAM, and use case studies to examine the process they must follow to find, obtain and reuse openly licensed images from three art museums.
Findings – Academic literature has so far focused on examining the risks and benefits of participation from an institutional perspective, with little done to assess OpenGLAM from the end users’ standpoint.
We reveal that end users have to overcome a series of barriers to find, obtain and reuse open images. The three main barriers relate to image quality, image tracking and the difficulty of distinguishing open images from those that are bound by copyright.
Research limitations/implications – This study focuses solely on the examination of art museums and galleries. Libraries, archives and also other types of OpenGLAM museums (e.g. archaeological) stretch beyond the scope of this paper.
Practical implications – We identify practical barriers of commercial and non-commercial reuse of open images, outlining areas of improvement for participant institutions.
Originality/value – We contribute to the understudied field of research examining OpenGLAM from the end users’ perspective, outlining recommendations for end users, as well as for museums and galleries.
Keywords – OpenGLAM, Open Access, Museums and Galleries, Open Images, Digitised Art Images,
Open Content
Paper type – Research paper

    Research areas

  • open access, digitized art images, museums and galleries, open content, open images, OpenGLAM

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