Museums, and the broader cultural heritage community, now have access to a new guide, commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to help them use the intellectual property (IP) system to improve the management of their collections in the digital environment.
The "WIPO Guide on Managing Intellectual Property for Museums" by Ms. Rina Elster Pantalony - a Canadian expert on these issues - recognizes the important role that IP plays in providing access to collections, and in preserving and managing the valuable works they contain. Copyright and trademark law in particular are of growing importance to museums in fulfilling their mandates and meeting users' needs. Effective management of IP rights will enable museums to harness the Internet as an educational and communications tool.
In the digital age, the cultural heritage community is increasingly faced with the responsibility of managing its own IP, 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 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, 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 Guide is now available on-line at: http://www.wipo.int/copyright/en/museums_ip/ . A printed version of the Guide will be available shortly.