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Updates on Open Culture Platform Activity Fund Winners 2023

In 2023, the Creative Commons (CC) Open Culture Platform ran an open call for funded activities as part of our efforts to develop local, non-Western models of open culture, and to support the growth of the open culture movement around the world. Platform members voted on proposed projects, winners were announced in May, and the projects all ended at the end of the year. In this blog post, project leaders share their experiences, including some of the challenges they faced as well as their most important accomplishments.

Archiving History of Ghana: Case Study of Forts and Castles

Francis Quasie

This project aimed at documenting some of the existing forts and castles in Ghana on Wikimedia Commons with the aim of making these resources available to use by anyone around the world through Creative Commons tools and licenses.

This project has seen remarkable outcomes. We covered our target areas and produced a total of three hundred and fifty two (352) images out of our target number of three hundred (300) images for Wikimedia Commons. We also uploaded eight (8) videos in addition to the images on Wikimedia Commons making the total number of three hundred and sixty (360) images and videos in total all under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 International license. All the 360 images and videos were uploaded in a category of “Forts and Castles in Ghana” on Wikimedia Commons. Also another outcome of this project we are excited about is the relationship established with the Ghana Museum and Monument Board with regard to preserving African heritage. We have shared the images documented on Wikimedia Commons with the Ghana Museum and Monument Board and some of the entities under the Museum. We have also shared our photographs with some of the Senior High School and university institutions which will be used for educational purposes.

These forts and castles on Wikipedia have been updated with the current images documented to provide more understanding of these historical sites in Ghana. We are happy for this project because we provide vital information on Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia as well, and we also had an opportunity to learn a lot about our historical monuments in Ghana as we document for the next generation.

 

Building a sustainable social, technical & legal infrastructure for Open GLAM in Pakistan; the quantitative analyses for the development of open heritage science for Pakistani heritage

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Muhammad Imtiaz Subhani, PhD.                           Amber Osman
Lead, Creative Commons, Pakistan                         Co-lead, Creative Commons, Pakistan
(Project Principal Investigator)                                (Project Co-Investigator)

This project aimed to establish a comprehensive and sustainable social, technical, and legal infrastructure for Open GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) in Pakistan, focusing on fostering open heritage science for Pakistani heritage. The initiative has undertaken in-depth analyses to quantify and assess the cultural heritage sites and institutions, their current state and their accessibility, while identifying their legal frameworks, technological and social infrastructures and also addressing the technological aspects for digitization and preservation. The cultural heritage sites and institutions were investigated in terms of their counts in each province and city, their types, location addresses, level of access including license types. Further, in order to better quantify Pakistani heritage, a self-administered focused group survey was conducted through deploying eight focused group volunteers. 2000 respondents/cultural stakeholders (250 respondents through each of eight focused groups) were reached out from all over Pakistan to quantify the several positions of legal, technological and social frameworks pertaining to Pakistan heritage.

In our endeavor to establish a robust and sustainable social, technical, and legal infrastructure for Open GLAM in Pakistan, we’ve achieved significant milestones and gained valuable insights. Through meticulous analysis, we quantified and assessed the state and accessibility of GLAMs, heritage sites, and institutions across provinces, identifying legal frameworks, technological infrastructures, and avenues for digitization and preservation. Notably, our study confirmed the presence of 424 heritage entities spread across all provinces, with Punjab exhibiting a dense concentration. We’ve successfully facilitated open access to heritage resources, particularly in Sindh, through collaborations with Creative Commons and governmental bodies.

Technological advancements include the launch of a beta version Dashboard for easy access to heritage details and the establishment of XploreOpen, a dedicated web platform catering to Pakistan’s heritage. Furthermore, we innovatively mapped all heritage sites onto the map of Pakistan using padlet.com. Our work underscores the importance of open heritage science and sets the stage for continued preservation and celebration of Pakistan’s cultural heritage. The test version of the platform can be accessed at www.xploreopen.org. This project also mapped out all of the cultural heritage sites and institutions on the map of Pakistan while using innovative solution padlet.com. To enhance XploreOpen and foster technological advancement and growth, additional funding will be crucial for its future success.

 

GLAM institutions in Colombia open to their citizens

Viviana Rangel

This project aimed to unite key stakeholders within the GLAM community at local, district, and national levels to comprehend their primary needs arising from: (a) the integration of new technologies into the daily operations of GLAMs as cultural affairs managers at district and national levels, and the resulting implications for the national copyright system; and (b) the challenges confronted by local communities in safeguarding their traditional cultural heritage. To respond to this objective, five workshops were held in different cities and districts of the country with managers of different community, district and national GLAMs. These workshops used a collaborative dialogue methodology among stakeholders, which was designed as part of the project and is expected to serve as a reference point for other initiatives.

The main result of these workshops was the possibility of dialoguing with community members in Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Pasto and Tumaco, representing approximately 15 GLAMs located in different departments of the country and at different territorial scales. These conversations served as input for the construction of two documents: (a) a roadmap for the GLAM community; and (b) a document of recommendations designed to improve the capacities of decision-makers. These documents, in turn, opened the possibility for us to dialogue with policymakers about the need to advance in a reform of the national copyright law, but also allowed us to strengthen the organization of the GLAM community for political advocacy.

Findings

As part of the findings in the stakeholder dialogues, it was obtained that:

There is a delay in national regulations regarding exceptions and limitations for GLAMs, but there are significant advances in the implementation of new technologies for GLAMs serving large or medium-sized audiences.
There is a constant concern in the country about the risk of copyright infringement by GLAMs, coupled with a lack of knowledge about copyright exceptions and limitations.
The territorial approach of the project shed light on the asymmetries between territories and the various challenges they face in terms of copyright. The approaches to the different territories revealed the difficulties in protecting the intellectual property of the traditional knowledge and expressions of the ancestral, artisanal and indigenous communities of our country.
The GLAMs in the different territorial levels have recognized the need to hold workshops on the exceptions and limitations that cover their current activities. Additionally, discussions have highlighted the importance of organizing advocacy efforts in this area.
Failure to put this discussion on the table has put at risk the defense of the public interest and the guarantee of cultural rights for Colombian citizens throughout the national territory.

Outcomes

As results of the project, the following were achieved:

Design material and promote the organization for political advocacy aimed at holding a hearing with the National Directorate of Copyright for the updating of the national regulations.
Opening a necessary discussion for the country that had been postponed due to lack of organization. Resumption of the discussion with decision makers.
An exhaustive review of the progress of the exceptions and limitations in the country’s copyright legislation.
Mapping and diagnosis of the needs and problems of the GLAM in the country. Using a territorial approach that allowed the identification of needs, considering the specific context of each department and community with which we were able to relate.
Mapping of actors and characterization of the relationships between GLAMs, public policy makers and international organizations working on issues related to copyright reform in the country.
Identification of challenges in the coordination between GLAM institutions in charge of preserving and defending cultural heritage and national entities responsible for building and supervising the copyright system in the country.

 

Digitization and Protection of Specialized Heritage Institutions

Seyi Osunade

Heritage institutions, also known as cultural heritage institutions or memory institutions, are organizations that preserve, protect, and provide access to cultural and historical materials of significant importance. These institutions play a vital role in safeguarding and promoting our shared cultural heritage. Heritage institutions encompass various types of organizations, including: Galleries, Laboratories, Libraries, Archives and Museums.

University of Ibadan plays host to a number of specialized cultural heritage institutions that are not visible online but used for teaching and research. This project seeks to identify such centers across the three campuses, 16 faculties and numerous centers so as to encourage digitization and use of CC protection mechanisms. The production of a draft institutional policy and an e-book with available artifacts and location of the specialized cultural heritage institutions are the deliverables from this project.

Outcomes: 

These are some documented outcomes from the work done:

Pictures taken at the UI Cultural Heritage Museum are shared on Flickr
Lecture presentation materials on Digital Preservation at the University Library
Sample Certificate of Participation given for Knowledge transfer of digitization methods for artifacts
Lecture material used for Workshop
Poster presentation shared at CC Summit from the work
A draft institutional policy for Open Access to Cultural Arts
E-book with available artefacts and location of the specialized cultural heritage institutions

 

A Public Domain Database of Digitized Creative Works in Nigeria

Isaac Oloruntimilehin

The initial plan by Free Knowledge Africa to onboard enumerators across different libraries in Nigeria didn’t work out as expected. We released a call for librarians across libraries in Nigeria to join the campaign to help identify works in the public domain in their libraries. However, the librarians we selected faced difficulties in accessing the collections of the libraries. Some of them were junior librarians at these institutions and didn’t have enough influence to help advocate for the project, because of some institutional factors and gatekeeping, and they were just librarians who were interested in participating in the campaign. A better approach would have been to work with one library at a time which we later adopted with the National Library of Nigeria where we identified a friendly stakeholder. We also reached out to private libraries and archives, as well as State and government libraries and archives to help identify works in the Nigerian public domain, but most of these Information centers didn’t have books that dated back to the pre-colonial era and books that fall under the Nigerian public domain according to the Nigerian Copyright Act.

After much deliberation and back and forth with these institutions without much progress, we decided to write to the National Library of Nigeria which is the apex library of the country. As expected, they had most of these public domain works which were acquired through legal deposits and donations.

Free Knowledge Africa moved ahead to establish a partnership with the National Library of Nigeria through the Virtual Library Services Department, through which we were able to identify works in the Public Domain. We also held an outreach and training at the National Library Headquarters where we trained the staff of the Virtual Library Services Department about the open movement, open licenses, public domain and digitization.

We were able to complete the digitization of 449 works (books, newspapers, and images) in the public domain in partnership with the National Library of Nigeria. The project is progressing slowly so far because of limited manpower and outdated technology in finding works that are in the public domain in the library’s collection. We uploaded the works on Wikimedia Commons in the Nigerian public domain category, and we intend to create Wikidata items and transcribe the books on Wikisource to make them citable and discoverable.

We identified some works that are also in the public domain according to the Nigerian Copyright laws, but some of these works were copyrighted and had all rights reserved. We decided to not digitize these works to avoid potential lawsuits from the publishers.

We were faced with a few challenges during this project. Some of them include:

Bureaucracy lies within most of these institutions as some processes which normally should have taken a few days were prolonged to as long as a month.
We were able to identify a few government publications which according to the Nigerian Copyright Act are expected to be in the public domain. However, some of them were copyrighted with the ‘All Rights Reserved’ mark. To avoid copyright infringement, we didn’t digitize those works after the effort had been put into sorting and identifying them.
Due to insufficient funding, we were limited in the number of books we were able to digitize. We were unable to digitize special works such as delicate materials and voluminous books because such works would need special care and could only be handled by experts. We were able to digitize only a few books that fell under this category due to limited funding.
Last but not least, there was a lack of understanding on the part of the librarians. We had to go through several meetings and even organize a training session for the librarians to give them insight into what we hoped to achieve. This training session was organized to enlighten them on the importance of the public domain and why we must digitize these precious works.

Some of our key learnings include:

Identifying the key stakeholders saves time and money, as they can cut through the bureaucracy. The challenge lies in identifying them.
Partnership helps in cutting costs and sharing what the other parties stand to gain helps in bringing them on board and getting invested in the project.
Advocacy needs to be done to change the perception of open licensing by librarians in Nigeria, they need to be more involved in the open movement, to see the big picture.

 

Building Open GLAM Community for Sustainable Open Licensing Practices in Nigeria

Bukola James

Under the Creative Commons Open Culture Platform Activity Fund, we launched the Building Open Culture Community for Sustainable Open Licensing Practices in Nigeria project. Over two months, from July to September 2023, the project aimed to cultivate an open culture ecosystem in Nigeria, focusing on Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM). Goals included raising awareness and understanding of Creative Commons licenses among GLAM professionals, increasing digitization and online visibility of collections using appropriate CC platforms and licenses.

Building Awareness and Capacity

Through collaborative efforts, the project increased open culture practices among GLAM professionals in Nigeria. Extensive planning from July to September 2023 led to a series of offline and online activities aimed at enriching GLAM professionals’ skills and understanding of Creative Commons licenses.

The initiatives included a two-day online session and in-person events discussing open culture practices and offering practical guidance on platform utilization. This enabled professionals to effectively use platforms like Wikimedia Commons, to enhance the global visibility of their collections through active participation.

Audience Reached

Through an extensive recruitment campaign and pre-community assessment, we’ve built a dynamic network of 175 Open Culture advocates across Meta, Facebook, and WhatsApp, connecting them to the Creative Commons global and open culture platform. This network is poised to lead Creative Commons programs and open culture initiatives in Nigeria. Concurrently, the project facilitated six GLAM institutions in Nigeria to share over 100 aesthetics and collections on Wikimedia Commons, enriching a growing repository for future generations. Our project’s impact is evident in promoting the use of Creative Commons licenses, enhancing accessibility and visibility of GLAM collections online.

Lessons Learned

The project period was not just about achieving milestones but also about learning and evolving. The journey taught us the tremendous potential that lies in the collaborative efforts of GLAM professionals in achieving openness and how open knowledge platforms like Wikimedia Commons can help increase the use and re-use of CC licenses and  GLAM collections in Nigeria. We learned that structured training, comprising theoretical understanding paired with practical exposure, can play a pivotal role in empowering professionals. Moreover, the enthusiastic participation and feedback from the attendees emphasized the appetite for such initiatives, showcasing a promising road ahead filled with collaborations and knowledge-sharing.

Conclusion

The strides made toward open culture advocacy are celebrated as we embrace the future. Through collaborative efforts, a vibrant community of advocates has been established, alongside project initiatives and virtual platforms for ongoing engagement. The Building Open Culture Community project exemplifies the power of clear vision and determined execution. Gratitude is extended to all contributors. The project’s insights will shape Nigeria’s open culture narrative and shared knowledge in the GLAM sector. Excitement abounds for the continued growth and impact of these efforts.

 

Creative Commons thanks each of these contributors for their inspiring efforts towards making culture around the world more open. Their pioneering work and advocacy helps to spread the message that access to knowledge and culture is a human right around the world. We can also learn from these awardees about some of the challenges that are faced in different contexts around the world, and bring visibility to the varied strategies for the open movement in each of these contexts.

Congratulations to each of you for your successful projects, and we look forward to sharing the projects selected by the Open Culture Platform for 2024 in the coming months.

The post Updates on Open Culture Platform Activity Fund Winners 2023 appeared first on Creative Commons.