Open licenses for collection digitization

Team Collection Discovery and Development

A guest contribution By Team Collection Discovery and Development
04.01.2023 | 2 minutes reading time

For years, the Museum für Naturkunde has advocated for the recognition and implementation of Open Science. Now, a copyright policy has been published that clarifies and provides legal certainty on licensing issues for digitized collection materials.

Photogrammetry setup with Asian black bear, Photo: Christel Clerc, MfN
Photogrammetry setup with Asian black bear, Photo: Christel Clerc, MfN

The data from collection development and digitization as well as from research projects of the Museum für Naturkunde should bring the greatest possible added value to the scientific community as well as to society – for years, the museum has therefore been committed to the recognition and implementation of Open Science. Until now, however, there has been a lack of unified usage and licensing guidelines for the media and data produced and published in the course of digitization activities, and thus also of clear, easy-to-understand legal certainty for users, cooperation partners, and data suppliers.

In order to make the digitized material quickly available without major hurdles, in particular from the ongoing collection digitization, the museum has adopted a copyright policy that was developed together with the law firm iRights to secure the legal framework. The data and media created are generally available under a CC0 license or public domain mark for free subsequent use and in the spirit of Open Science. In exceptional cases, especially in the case of sensitive data or legally protected material, there may be different, more restrictive licensing (CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, CC-BY-NC, etc.). Data and media with undefined licensing will be published as all rights reserved, if at all.

With this regulation, the Museum für Naturkunde sets new standards that have not been conclusively established in many institutions. The copyright policy is thus in line with existing and future policies in the sense of Open Science at the museum (e.g. Open Access Policy , research data guideline) and points the way for further efforts for more transparency and open science.