Horizon 2020 and beyond: where digital technologies hit cultural heritage

Katfriend and occasional guest blogger Valentina Torelli  -- she of the warring chocolate cows -- has been turning her attention to new horizons, indeed to the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme and some other initiatives that have been vested with memorable acronyms.  Haven't heard about Horizon 2020?  You may not be the only one, it seems, since not many people are talking about it -- but it is all over the internet, with a search for the words "Horizon 2020" attracting over 17 million hits.  Anyway, this is what Valentina has to tell us about, among other things, the three-dimensional shape of things to come:
Copyright in the EU: midway between heritage and new Horizons

The 2014 seems to be generating great expectations in all those enthusiasts of copyright-related matters who believe it will be a promising year for a wind of change in the European creative industry and cultural heritage.

Along with the Commission's progressive work on the draft Impact Assessment on the modernization of the EU copyright acquis , as promptly reported on this blog here, herehere and here, new horizons will open up to the EU research and innovation framework in the next seven years. This is where the Horizon 2020 programme (here) fits in, particularly for those copyright issues which may stem from it in regard to the EU's heritage and cultural assets.

Briefly, Horizon 2020 is described as a financial instrument aimed at creating a single market for knowledge, research and innovation, where the private and public sectors will match know-how and investments, particularly in the sign of digitization. Nearly €80 billion funds will be made available by the European Union within the programme from 2014 to 2020. In this vein, the Commission gathered all the previous EU research and innovation funding under the Horizon 2020 umbrella and launched consultations at the end of 2013, in order to contextualize  new job opportunities as well as related economic growth.

Reflective ...
Among Horizon 2020's pillars, listed here, “Societal Challenges” encompasses the Reflective Societies section which will drive the development of research and innovation activity within Europe's digital culture in the next two years (ie 2014-2015). In particular, the Reflective Societies' call for proposals addresses the issues of cultural heritage, identity formation and the intellectual, artistic, creative and historical legacy of the European Union.  As explained in the work programme this call "... will also foster the potential of digital technologies for facilitating the modelling, analysis, understanding and preservation of European cultural heritage, thus allowing richer interpretations and user experiences, as well as creative re-use".

In this regard, among all the Reflective Societies challenges, 'Advanced 3D modelling for accessing and understanding European cultural assets' (hereplays a fascinating role.  To give a couple of examples, imagine that EU researchers and/or citizens want to undertake a joint reconstruction of The Guggenheim in Bilbao and TheNeuer Zollhof in Duesseldorf, both designed by Canadian-American architect Frank O. Gehry, or that Antonio Canova's statue of Cupid and Psyche (right) be simulated in order to prevent material degradation: by means of the automated 3D modelling and analysis a new semantic-aware representation of the objects will be available for  research, interpretation and innovation, far beyond simple digital reconstruction. Besides a better understanding of the European cultural assets the direct reuse, publication and distribution of the models is a primary target of this call for proposal. Consequently, semantic-aware 3D technologies are to be developed in terms of standard format in order to achieve the widest options for the models' archiving, reusability and sustainability.

That said, interest in joining the dots between the upcoming actions in the EU copyright framework and the topics underlying the Reflective Societies projects is easily expressed.

On one hand, a strong interdependence can be found as far as both deal with copyright-protected or public-domain subject matters. In these regards, probably, the first main point is clarifying whether 3D modelling may imply any infringement of the right of reproduction, distribution and communication to the public and, thus, restriction of this activity in the absence of the right holder's authorization. If copyright concerns are to be taken into account a fundamental issue is the provision of clear rules preventing any type of overreaching practices of copyright material, provided that authors' moral rights were always preserved. Accordingly, the provision of exceptions for libraries and archives, for education purposes and for people with disabilities should also be mandatory, an issue that will be solved when a legislative text is passed by the European authorities to facilitate the harmonized cross-border distribution of cultural materials.  
Finally, with reference to the qualification of the 3D models as copyright assets, the automated nature of the modelling should entail only contractual restrictions and call into question the identification of the subjects lawfully and technically legitimated to generate the 3D representation. A different scenario may occur if the 3D models are coupled with original metadata or where the modelling of an earlier cultural asset generates a transformed work and vests it with originality, in that copyright prerogatives may arise. Possibly, in those cases questions about how to address the management of user-generated content should be answered.

Attention must also be paid to both the creation of a regulatory framework for licensing cultural and creative materials and to the solution of technical restraints given by interoperability and portability issues connected to standard technologies. Here the role of  content aggregators may be enhanced as the natural digital places where the semantic-aware 3D models can be searched and displayed. To this extent, the already tested experience of Europeana, another Commission's public funded project, will be brought into the 3D modelling projects later on. Not only is Europeana the digital hub giving access to Europe's cultural heritage, but it is also based on licensing agreements structured on the subscription of standard formats. This time, the controversial issue is whether right holders should always give consent prior to the utilization of 3D modelling upon their works or whether such authorization can be considered implied in belonging the cultural asset to heritage aggregators.

The 3D modelling representation of cultural contents may serve as the next level, after the ongoing process of their digitisation, in order to bring European history and creativity online for the sake of EU and non-EU citizens. The challenge is to give a chance to reproduce in three dimensions potentially any cultural asset according to the interested party's objectives, beyond any curatorial or general selections. Consequently, it is highly desirable that the legal issues and the economical constraints related to the 3D modelling's high costs will not limit the potential of a project positively contributing to the European identity, education and innovation.

While waiting for the close of the call for proposal, scheduled for 30 September, and for the next stage of the project, we already have an idea of how 3D models will find practical applications. Anyone who wants to plan a trip to Asturias (Spain), and to visit Oviedo's Museum of Fine Arts is strongly recommended to look first at the Europeana website, where the paintings' 3D models will be integrated once reproduced, thanks to the integration of technological solutions for imaging, detection, and digitisation of hidden elements in artworks (INSIDDE). 
If instead, you want to broad your possibilities and to create your own personalized itinerary according to your interests and before leaving your home, another new application, Cultural Heritage Experiences through Socio-personal interactions and Storytelling (CHESS), is a project co-funded by the European Commission, that aims to integrate interdisciplinary research which will drive you in a tailor-made and interactive visit in which 3D applications will also be provided. 
Horizon 2020 and beyond: where digital technologies hit cultural heritage Horizon 2020 and beyond: where digital technologies hit cultural heritage Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Since you mention chocolate cows, we had a case like that in Israel where Meir Noam ruled that the trade mark registry was sufficiently verdant to allow both cows to graze in peaceful coexistence.

    See: http://blog.ipfactor.co.il/2006/04/15/elite-and-milkas-cows-lock-horns/


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