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Lesley Ellen Harris speaks about Developing a Digital Licensing Strategy
About Lesley Ellen Harris
Lesley Ellen Harris is a lawyer, author and educator. She began working in copyright in Toronto in the summer of 1984 while still a law student at Osgoode Hall Law School. Lesley work for four years with Canadian Heritage revising Canadian copyright laws. Since 2001, Lesley has consulted on U.S., Canadian and international copyright and licensing issues with a variety of clients including governments, copyright collectives, libraries, museums, archives and educational institutions. She has written 4 books, edits The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter, and develops and teaches in-person and online training courses. She maintains a blog at www.copyrightlaws.com where anyone can ask questions and get answers on copyright issues. She is also on Twitter @copyrightlaws.com.
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This is a CHIN Production.
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Interviewer: How does a museum begin to develop its licensing strategy?
Lesley Ellen Harris: Support is essential to beginning developing a licensing strategy. There has to be support from senior management, as well as from various departments and people within a museum. So by support, I mean time, I mean a budget, and I mean gathering a team of willing people with a variety of backgrounds from throughout the museum. So once you have your team and your support, it's a good idea to start reading as many licensing agreements and related documents that you can find, so whether they're internal licenses once your museum has signed, or licenses you find online or can obtain from other museums. And then you want to audit what content you have, what electronic content you use, and who used that content, and whether it's internal or external. You also want to set deadlines for creating your strategy because it really is an ongoing process. So you want to have an outline of what should be in your strategy, maybe some sample clauses from various licensing agreements, any sort of negotiating tips, and those who can negotiate licenses on behalf of your museum, and those who have authority to sign licenses. And once you have that general picture or outline in place, you really should sit down in a closed room, lock the door, and brainstorm the purpose of your particular licensing strategy, and what would make it practical and helpful to your museum.
Interviewer: Is Web 2.0 and social networking an important aspect of a museum's licensing strategy?
Lesley Ellen Harris: Web 2.0 and social networking is certainly important in all cultural heritage institutions, and when planning your licensing strategy, you really need to examine the type of content you are licensing and the type of content you are using. However, especially as a museum, you have to look at content you create and acquire and own and think about how you want that content licensed and used by others. So as a museum, when developing your licensing strategy, you have to think on both sides. You're a creator, an owner, but you're also a user of content. So things you want to think about, especially for content you own, is do you mind if others blog and let's say include on of your digital images in a posting? Or what if an image appears on Flickr or Facebook? Do you have terms and conditions of use? If so, these should all be part of your licensing strategy. Think about the situation. What if someone prepares a derivative work based on your museum's works or includes your works in a mashup that gets posted on YouTube? Is that allowed? How can you stop it? What should you do if you become aware of such unauthorized uses? Asking these questions and discussing them internally and setting out a plan to respond is really what a digital licensing strategy is all about.
Interviewer: What are resources that may assist us in writing our licensing strategy?
Lesley Ellen Harris: Well, keeping in mind that each licensing strategy is unique, one can look at many resources. However, there probably won't be one resource that will lead you entirely through the development of your strategy. Of course, there's several CHIN publications that will educate you and set out outlines how to audit intellectual property, how to manage intellectual property, and of course, how to develop a licensing strategy. And those are key documents that you should use as resources. One overlooked resource is people, colleagues, people you know from conferences who you've worked with before. People hold a wealth of knowledge in their minds, and if you can tap that knowledge, you can probably get some very practical information and situations that others have gone through, which will help you, of course, be proactive when you're developing your licensing strategy. And of course, the Internet has a wealth of very related information, and some less related or less specific, but general information. My caution in sending you to the Internet when we're discussing licensing is that copyright laws from country to country, and in fact, contractual provisions and licenses themselves can vary from province to province and state to state, and not only country to country. So when you are on the Internet and searching globally, keep in mind that Canadian information should be looked at differently than content from other countries.
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