The Impact of Open Access on Galleries, Libraries, Museums, & Archives
For the purpose of this document, “open access” is defined as making public domain materials open for use without any restrictions, and making copyrighted materials available under the provisions of fair use (non-commercial, educational).
More than 50 institutions have, to varying degrees, pursued open access over the last decade, removing technical and copyright barriers to their digitized collections and resources. A strengthened institutional brand, increased use and dissemination of collections, and increased funding opportunities have been some of the benefits associated with open-access initiatives.
A recent Andrew W. Mellon Foundation study, “Images of Works of Art in Museum Collections: The Experience of Open Access, a Study of 11 Museums,” found that among the museums studied, none that enforced copyright restrictions made any significant surplus or profit against their expenditures. It concluded, “real and perceived gains far outweigh the real and perceived losses for every museum in the study that has made a transition to an open access approach.”
Recently, several funders, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, have made open access either a requirement for gift recipients or a factor in assessing potential gifts.
Furthermore, President Barack Obama’s Open Government Initiative, launched in 2009, has built an increasing expectation from the public that all government entities will move towards practices that are more open, which places federal entities at risk for public perception of not pursuing best practices.
Finally, as crowdsourcing initiatives gain traction in the cultural heritage space, it is the organizations that prioritize openness and sharing that are reaping the most benefits.
Effie Kapsalis, “The Impact of Open Access on Galleries, Libraries, Museums, & Archives,” Copyright Cortex, accessed June 3, 2020, https://copyrightcortex.org/research/the-impact-of-open-access-on-galleries-libraries-museums-archives.