Direct to Summary/News Release
Today Europeana publishes its second White Paper, ‘The Problem of the Yellow Milkmaid: a Business Model perspective on Open Metadata’. The paper is the result of a roundtable that brought together leading figures in the cultural heritage sector. The experts examined the opportunities and risks associated with open licensing of their massive datasets, which comprise the record of all publications and cultural artefacts in Europe.The White Paper documents their findings and is published to meet a growing need among libraries, museums, archives and audio-visual collections for a new business model that weighs the current digital opportunities against traditional concerns about ownership and control. It makes specific recommendations to be addressed and concludes that “the benefits of open data sharing and open distribution… outweigh the risks”.[Clip]
The White Paper features case studies of organisations that are in the vanguard of open data. They include Yale University, the German National Library, Cambridge University and the British Museum. Many other data providers are following in their footsteps: in signing Europeana’s new Data Exchange Agreement, contributors to Europeana’s dataset of 20 million items commit to an open licence in order to provide the raw material for innovation in the sector.The Data Exchange Agreement is the primary element in the Europeana Licensing Framework. The Framework is also published today, and establishes the co-ordinates of Europeana’s position on open data, the public domain, and users’ rights and responsibilities. The goal of the Framework is to standardise rights-related information and practices. Its intention is to bring clarity to a complex area and make transparent the relationship between people who want to use information and the institutions that provide that information to Europeana.
The Problem of the Yellow Milkmaid’, centres on Johannes Vermeer’s iconic painting, The Milkmaid. In a survey Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum found over 10,000 poor, yellowing copies of their great picture online. How to put a stop to the circulation of bad copies, give people a real sense of the true colour of the picture and stop them questioning the colours of the posters and postcards sold in their shop? The Rijksmuseum solved the problem by putting a high resolution copy of the Milkmaid online with open metadata, so that it could be easily referenced and shared. ‘Opening up our data,’ says the Rijksmuseum, ‘is our best defence against the ‘yellow Milkmaid’.