The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
InternKats: Rose Hughes, Ieva Giedrimaite, and Cecilia Sbrolli
SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

WIPO Guide to managing IP for museums

The IPKat has just heard about the WIPO Guide on Managing Intellectual Property For Museums, which appears to have been launched today (you can read it in full here).

Right, and below Left: museum architecture by the incredibly gifted Daniel Libeskind

According to the Executive summary,

"In the digital age, the cultural heritage community [The IPKat asks, aren't we all stakeholder in the cultural heritage - isn't that something to do with civilisation?] is increasingly faced with the responsibility of managing its own IP internally, as well as managing uses by third parties and users throughout the world, often on diminishing budgets. Effective use of the IP system allows museums to meet international standards of best practice, and can offer significant opportunities to leverage their goodwill, authenticity, uniqueness [The IPKat says, the usual way of leveraging authenticity and uniqueness seems to be by making picture postcards and models of artefacts, which doesn't do much for either of those vaunted assets] and scholarly expertise to generate a return on investment.

The first part of the Guide describes IP issues of relevance to museums such as rights in scholarly content, technologies developed in-house [The IPKat says, this is something that's easy to overlook, since it's often viewed as tangential to museum management], and branding tools that provide recognition and awareness of the museum in a commercial context. It also sets out recommended best practices in managing IP to enable a museum to identify its IP, understand its rights in using its collections, and strengthen its ability to deal with critical IP issues as they arise. The second part of the Guide reviews existing business models that could provide museums with appropriate opportunities to create sustainable funding, and deliver on their stated objectives.

The WIPO-commissioned author of the guide – Mrs Rina Elster Pantalony – is a recognized Canadian expert in the field of museums and cultural heritage institutions. Her biography is available for reference.

For any questions about the WIPO Guide, or WIPO’s activities in relation to museums, please contact the WIPO Copyright and Related Rights Sector, at, or tel: +41 22 338 8138".
Right: an icon of the past: the Natural History Museum, London

There's a lot to read - and a lot of thinking to do. The IPKat thinks it's strange that, while so much pressure is being brought to bear on the easy availability, downloading and multicopying of cultural not-yet-heritage items as CDs and DVDs, such careful thought is being given to the controlled exploitation of cultural heritage items that have already slipped into the public domain - if they were ever in the private domain in the first place. Merpel adds, are we talking about a sort of paying public domain for culturally significant materials?

Note by Lovells on museums' IP rights in the digital environment here
CIPIL virtual museum of intellectual property here
Whipple Museum of the History of Science copyright notice here
Cat museum magnets here

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