Opportunities for apps developers, designers and other digital innovators will be boosted as the digital portal Europeana opens up its dataset of over 20 million cultural objects for free re-use.
The massive dataset is the descriptive information about Europe’s digitised treasures. For the first time, the metadata is released under the Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain Dedication, meaning that anyone can use the data for any purpose – creative, educational, commercial – with no restrictions. This release, which is by far the largest one-time dedication of cultural data to the public domain using CC0 offers a new boost to the digital economy, providing electronic entrepreneurs with opportunities to create innovative apps and games for tablets and smart phones and to create new web services and portals.
Europeana’s move to CC0 is a step change in open data access. Releasing data from across the memory organisations of every EU country sets an important new international precedent, a decisive move away from the world of closed and controlled data.
Importantly, the change represents a valuable contribution to the European Commission’s agenda to drive growth through digital innovation. Online open data is a core resource which can fuel enterprise and create opportunities for millions of Europeans working in Europe’s cultural and creative industries. The sector represents 3.3 percent of EU GDP and is worth over EUR150 billion in exports.
Welcoming the announcement, Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for the Digital Agenda for Europe, said: “Open data is such a powerful idea, and Europeana is such a cultural asset, that only good things can result from the marriage of the two. People often speak about closing the digital divide and opening up culture to new audiences but very few can claim such a big contribution to those efforts as Europeana’s shift to creative commons.”
Applying the CC0 waiver also means that Europeana’s metadata can now be used in Linked Open Data developments. This holds the potential to bring together data from Europe’s great libraries, museums and archives with data from other sectors such as tourism and broadcasting. The result could be a powerful knowledge generating engine for the 21st century.
Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana said: “This move is a significant step forward for open data and an important cultural shift for the network of museums, libraries and galleries who have created Europeana. This is the world’s premier cultural dataset, and the decision to open it up for re-use is bold and forward looking – it recognises the important potential for innovation that access to digital data provides. This development means that Europe now sets the worldwide standard for the sector.”
Europeana – www.europeana.eu – is Europe’s digital library, archive and museum. It currently gives people access to over 20 million books, paintings, films, recordings, photographs and archival records in 29 languages. It represents 2,200 partner organisations, including all the great national collections such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the British Library in London and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
(ACCESS 83, December 2012)