GLAM/Case studies/Exploring CC Licences

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Following a number of conversations with academics and professionals related to GLAM work in Ireland, we approached the Digital Repository of Ireland to explore if there was any scope for collaboration. It was very quickly established that one of the major stumbling blocks to GLAMs in Ireland participating fully with Wikipedia and other online platforms was the lack of understanding around copyright and open licences. We then decided to hold a workshop led by the Wikimedia Community Ireland Project Coordinator, Rebecca O'Neill, on this subject.

This was the first workshop of its kind that WCI was involved in, and has marked a turning point in how GLAMs approach us. The group is no longer viewed as purely a gateway to getting content on Wikipedia, or as just a facilitator of editing workshops, we are now seen as active participants and experts in open knowledge and licensing. This has meant that within the ecosystem of GLAMs in Ireland we are no longer just a service provider, but a collaborator and peer within the larger discussions on opening up, assessing, and providing correct licence information on heritage objects, media and data.

Workshop development[edit]

In developing the workshop, Rebecca sought advice from Barbara Fischer from WMDE, and used the workshop Barbara was involved in creating called Change Your Mind.

With the WMDE workshop materials as a foundation, we focused group work and activities on actual examples from the DRI digital collections, Europeana, and Wikimedia Commons. As there was an interest from the DRI and its members to explore Irish copyright, Rebecca consulted with Dimitar Parvanov about what developments on EU copyright reform that may be of interest to those working in the GLAM sector. From these conversations, the workshop took on three parts: Copyright in Ireland and the EU, Creative Commons and Public Domain, and finally application of the skills acquired during the workshop in group work.

Preparation for the workshop[edit]

DRI staff and Rebecca held a series of meetings as well as follow up meetings to establish the content of the workshop. As the DRI have been involved in the development of best practice around meta data and digital heritage or cultural collections, they were clear in the nature of workshop that their members would be interested in attending. In particular these discussions highlighted the need to have a focus and concrete learning outcomes for the participants. The Change Your Mind workshops provided this, and also allowed for the examples and content to be adapted to an Irish context easily. As regards joint goals, these workshops both fulfilled WCI goals of increased collaboration and knowledge transfer with partners in Ireland, and for the DRI it met their goals of being an expertise network and providing training and professional development.

The participants in the workshop came from DRI's membership. Their members are a diverse set of cultural institutions from museums, archives and research initiatives. The pitch and tone of the workshop was also very well suited to the audience, so it allowed for the focus to be on the rigour of the information provided, especially specific Irish nuances to copyright law.

The workshop[edit]

Groups working during the Exploring CC Licences workshop

The workshop was held in the Royal Irish Academy on 5 September 2017 over the course of a morning. The introduction of copyright in Ireland and the EU covered not only the current definitions but also topics of interest to GLAMs such as freedom of panorama and orphan works. The concepts of public domain and Creative Commons licensing was then outlined, drawing on specific Irish examples and some of the work of Wikimedia both in Ireland and internationally. The examples included examples of stained glass designs from the 20th century, a photograph of an object relating to the Easter Rising of 1916, a natural history specimen, and a photograph of a commemorative plaque.

The group was then split into groups of three and given an example of a work to assess as to what license a digital representation of the work could of should be published under. In each group, one participant took a position of supporting open license, another was more sceptical, and one acted as a moderator. Each group then reported back on their findings, and what license they chose along with their reasoning. After each presentation, the current status of the digital object was then revealed to the group, and feedback solicited. This section prompted conversations about the potential limitations of the non-commercial Creative Commons license, the potential vagueness around the boundaries of freedom of panorama, and GLAM concerns about varying open licenses.

The full presentation can be found here.


The feedback on the session was positive, and started a number of conversations around the uses of open licenses as well as the assessment of collections. A follow up event was then planned for the first International Digital Preservation Day on 30 November 2017 which included a Wikipedia editing workshop. The follow up event was very much a more "traditional" editing event, teaching new editors how to start editing Wikipedia, as well as uploading images and a short introduction to Wikidata. The content of the workshop was tailored to the inaugural International Preservation Day, and was scheduled alongside a pop-up museum of technology, and a set of talks in the evening. These were co-hosted with the Library of Trinity College Dublin, who WCI have partnered with a number of times in the past for similar editing events.


  • The main learning outcome is that despite not having experience running such an event in the past, there was a wealth of experience to tap in to. Both Barbara's workshop and the conversation with Dimitar provided the structure and robust documentation to back up the content.
  • Despite all the preparation, you cannot have all the answers on the day. Many of the participants are coming from very specific contexts and their questions will reflect that. It is best to admit when you don't know something, and even better that it could be earmarked as content for another talk or workshop.
  • You will have more allies in the room than you think, and they might have the expertise to answer some of the harder questions. Having the workshop with a strong round-table or discussion element allowed for people to offer their own experiences and expert knowledge, to the benefit of all.
  • Even though there will be highly specific questions, generally it is best to stay away from the highly technical elements of copyright law. They can be confusing for those with little experience or context for certain applications of the law, so it is best to keep it simple and emphasis the parts that are more likely to be relevant to the participants.