8. Creative Commons and digital rights management

Considering digital rights management is an important part of the digital 3-D ecosystem. While there is widely recognised value in having broadly accessible digital content, and this is particularly relevant to heritage materials, it is important to recognise that there may also be legitimate concerns about the unrestricted release of digital representations. As Koller and associates state:

Three-dimensional models of classical artworks, archaeological artifacts, or historic sites are often very valuable intellectual property, representing treasured cultural heritage and patrimony. The curators of physical artifact collections may be reluctant to allow digitization of their holdings if they would completely lose control of the virtual representations. Likewise, many cultural heritage scholars and content developers would be unwilling to participate in a centralized digital archiving effort that does not offer some guarantees about the security and trustworthy dissemination of their intellectual property. Thus, providing for the digital rights management of 3D models is of paramount importance in the development of 3D cultural heritage archives. (Koller et al. 2009, 7).

Koller et al. proceed to provide a number of approaches to deal with this issue. While restricting distribution using the tools and strategies by Koller can be valuable in certain contexts, whenever possible we would encourage a different strategy, one that provides for the wider distribution of data to support scholarship, public interpretation and similar objectives. In the case of the Hampson and Amarna Virtual Museums the vehicle to facilitate this distribution is the Creative Commons system. We have adopted the Creative Commons 3 or Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (see Creative Commons 2010) license. This license permits scholars and others to reuse and 'remix' these digital objects as long as they provide full citation. It does not permit direct financial gain, though it is possible to obtain commercial licensing. The inability to obtain commercial benefits without additional formal agreement, we argue, is particularly significant in the case of heritage materials. In certain (admittedly rare) cases these digital materials can be of value and it is important that the rights of the ultimate 'authors' of these materials, the indigenous peoples, be protected (Kansa 2009; Kansa et al. 2005). This situation has not yet arisen but if financial opportunities do occur it is our intention that these benefits be shared with the descendants of the creative artists and craftspeople who created them. It is clear that this will be a complex process but one that we feel should be pursued.

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