EU policy/Consultation on a Digital Cultural Heritage

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Consultation on Digital Cultural Heritage

2020

 

The European Commission is looking to update its Recommendation of 27 October 2011. This document contains a list of non-binding recommendations addressed to Member States, institutions, practitioners and the EU itself. It helped Wikimedia advocate for a "public domain safeguard" within the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive of 2019.

The deadline for this survey is 14 September 2020.

Introduction[edit]

Europe’s cultural institutions such as libraries, archives, non-commercial galleries and museums have vast and rich collections, and it is important that they are not just stored in vaults but preserved for future generations and made accessible to the larger public. Furthermore, Europe’s monuments, historical buildings and archaeological sites face increasing threats related to natural disasters, accidents, pollution, mass tourism, vandalism or even deterioration over time. The accidental fire at Notre-Dame in Paris in April 2019 was only one tragic reminder of the risks faced by our most valuable cultural heritage assets, and thus of the need to urgently act in this domain.

Advanced technologies, such as 3D, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), bring unprecedented opportunities, today, to digitise cultural heritage, for preservation, conservation, restoration, research, as well as for a broader, more democratic online access and re-use by various sectors, such as tourism.

The COVID-19 pandemic confirmed once more the importance of enabling the cultural heritage sector to seize the opportunities provided by digital technologies. While some of cultural heritage institutions have managed to use these technologies and turn the crisis into new opportunities for creative expression, more engagement and expansion of audiences, others have been heavily affected, with significant loss of revenue. It is thus essential to ensure that, in an age of a major transformation of the society and the economy, the cultural heritage sector is equipped with the best tools, resources, knowledge and skills to make the most of the digital transition.

As part of this process, the European Commission is evaluating one of the main policy instruments on digitisation, online access and digital preservation of cultural heritage material, Commission Recommendation of 27 October 2011 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation (2011/711/EU) (the “Recommendation”). The Recommendation contains a set of guidelines to Member States and cultural heritage institutions in order to foster the digitisation of cultural heritage material across Europe, to improve online and cross-border access to such content, and to contribute to its digital preservation.

The aim of this consultation is to gather the views of citizens, competent authorities in the Member States, national and regional cultural heritage institutions, international organisations, concerned stakeholder umbrella organisations, the Europeana ecosystem of organisations and professionals, technology stakeholders with research, products and services in ICT for cultural heritage on: a) the importance of digitisation and digital transformation in the cultural heritage sector and the ways of supporting such processes. b) the relevance and future of the Recommendation referred to above.

Cultural heritage sector in the context of the COVID-19 crisis[edit]

How did the crisis affect your organisation?

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree I don’t know / no opinion

  • Loss of income
  • Dismiss staff
  • Struggle with advanced digital skills needed to manage the online presence
  • Suspend contracts with free-lance workers
Did you increase your online offer during the confinement period ? If yes, what kind of online offer do you consider important to sustain after the pandemics?


Based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis, how important do you think digital technologies will be in order to make your organisation more resilient in the future?

Very important
Important
Not very important
Not important at all
I don't know/no opinion

Do you envision additional changes to the digital activities and services provided by your institution in the future (e.g. more digitisation, more online access and innovative experiences)? Please list the most important or relevant ones.
Are you already making or will you make use of digital technologies to overcome the difficulties posed by social distancing, limits in the number of visitors and access limitations?

Digitising cultural heritage[edit]

Based in particular on the lessons learned from te COVID-19 crisis, to what extent do you agree with the following statements about the importance of digital technologies for cultural heritage and that of digitised cultural heritage for society?

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree I don’t know / no opinion

  • Digital technologies can help in the re-construction of damaged cultural heritage.
  • Digital technologies can help to increase the number of people accessing cultural heritage through the Internet.
  • Digitisation, online access and digital preservation of cultural heritage are important to society.
In your view, in particular in the light of the COVID-19 crisis, how important is it to digitise the following categories of cultural heritage?

Very important Important Not very important Not important at all I don’t know / no opinion

  • Endangered cultural heritage objects, buildings or sites (threatened by deterioration, neglect, destruction or alteration, pollution, or disappearance).
  • National masterpieces, as selected by experts or academics in the field

(Collections from museums, libraries, archives (including audiovisual and sound archives) (Historical buildings, monuments and archaeological sites (Intangible cultural heritage (for example, festivals, traditions, or national and regional customs)

Are there other categories of cultural heritage that you think would be important to digitise?
In your view, how valuable are the following applications of 3D technologies in the area of cultural heritage

Very valuable Valuable Not valuable Not valuable at all I don’t know/no opinion

  • For creating digital twins of cultural heritage buildings, monuments and sites such as Notre Dame, before they are damaged by fire or other disasters *For creating high-quality 3D models of museum objects like the ones in the Green Vault jewellery collection, before they are lost as a result of theft or another catastrophe
  • For creating 3D models of cultural heritage buildings, monuments and sites or museum object for online visualisation
  • For creating 3D models of cultural heritage buildings, monuments and sites or museum object for immersive experiences
  • Other (please specify)

Using and re-using digitised cultural heritage assets[edit]

In your opinion, in the light of the COVID-19 crisis, how important is it to improve online access to digital cultural heritage?
  • Very important
  • Important
  • Not very important
  • Not important at all
  • I don’t know / no opinion
(Optional) Which of the following forms of presenting cultural heritage are appealing to you? You can select multiple answers, or no answer if you do not know or have no opinion on this aspect.
  • Curated content (online exhibitions, …)
  • Tutorials, online classes on specific topics
  • Serious games (for example, for education or for scientific exploration)
  • Virtual visits of sites (such as in 3D or VR)
  • Personalised recommendations
  • Other (please specify)
(Optional) In your opinion, what are the main difficulties or shortcomings when accessing or re-using European cultural heritage content online? You can select multiple answers, or no answer if you do not know or have no opinion on this aspect.
  • Not enough content is available
  • Insufficient quality (for example, low resolution images, or poor or no explanatory text)
  • The content that I like is not available online
  • The explanatory text is not available in my language
  • I don’t know where to find digitised European cultural heritage content
  • The copyright and re-use status of digital objects are unclear
  • Other (please specify)
In your view, how important or valuable is the availability of digitised cultural heritage content for re-use for the following activities/sectors?

Very important Important Not very important Not important at all I don’t know / no opinion

  • Research
  • Education
  • Tourism
  • Creative industries
  • Technology/ICT
Are there other sectors where you think the re-use of digitised cultural heritage would be particularly valuable?
Do you think that digital technologies can empower and encourage people into more active and creative cultural participation, e.g. by developing new content themselves on the basis of digitised cultural heritage or putting their own cultural content online on a website or blog?
  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • I don’t know / no opinion

Digital transformation[edit]

In your view, and in the light of the COVID-19 crisis, what are the most important aspects of digital transformation in the cultural heritage sector? You can select multiple answers
  • Adopting advanced digitisation technologies
  • Creating a more agile digital environment (e.g. in terms of processes, awareness, culture, leadership)
  • Acquiring advanced digital skills
  • Carrying out mass digitisation of existing and new material
  • Providing online access to digitised content
  • Using digitised content in immersive experiences with the help of interactive technologies such as VR and AR
  • Organising virtual exhibitions online
  • Putting in place curation structures for digital assets
  • Other (please specify).
In your view, what are the core sets of digital skills that the professionals of the cultural heritage sector should acquire? You can select multiple answers
  • Digitisation (2D and/or 3D)
  • Data and metadata management and analytics
  • Copyright and licensing
  • Interactive technologies (e.g. VR and AR)
  • Other (please specify)
In your view, how valuable are the following applications of data and AI technologies in the area of cultural heritage

Very valuable Valuable Not very valuable Not valuable at all I don’t know/no opinion

  • Automated annotation of digitised cultural heritage (e.g. metadata describing and classifying an object or an image)
  • Automated recognition of objects and fragments of objects (e.g. identifying the source object when just fragments are available)
  • Reconstruction of lost cultural heritage information (e.g. predicting what a building such as a castle looked like originally when only some ruins are left and no other specific information about it)
  • Extraction of new knowledge from cultural heritage data (e.g. research on influences between artists, styles, or periods)
  • Other
In your view, how valuable would the following digital infrastructure elements be for the area of cultural heritage

Very valuable Valuable Not very valuable Not valuable at all I don’t know/no opinion

  • Common data spaces for sharing cultural heritage data and building up high-value data sets
  • Repository infrastructure for digitised cultural heritage content
  • Cloud infrastructure for research on digitised cultural heritage material
  • Supercomputing capabilities for large-scale cultural heritage simulations (e.g. models of entire cities or regions across time)
  • Other
Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about the importance of and the need to support digital transformation in the cultural heritage sector in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis?

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree I don’t know / no opinion

  • The EU and the Member States should intensify their actions in order to help cultural heritage institutions to address the challenges and seize the opportunities of the digital era.
  • The digital transformation of European cultural heritage institutions should be addressed and coordinated at EU level.
  • The EU’s support to Europeana, Europe’s only digital platform for cultural heritage, is important.
  • Specific questions about Recommendation 2011/711/EU
Would you like to answer more specific questions about the Recommendation?
  • Yes
  • No
(This and the following questions in this section are all dependent on selecting Yes under the previous question) Do you agree or disagree with the following statements about the Recommendation?

Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree I don’t know / no opinion

  • The provisions of the Recommendation have been implemented effectively and have achieved their objective to improve conditions in the areas addressed.
  • The benefits of implementing the Recommendation are significant and justify the costs, which are proportionate.
  • The Recommendation has been coherent with other EU policies and initiatives (for example, with the Public Sector Information Directive, relevant copyright provisions including the Orphan Works Directive and the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, or Europeana's mission).
  • As an instrument at EU level, the Recommendation provides added value, compared to the initiatives that Member States would have taken in the absence of it.
  • Having such a Recommendation continues to be important, but it should be updated to reflect better today’s needs in the area of digitised cultural heritage, and increase the potential of Europe’s cultural heritage.
In your view, what would be the best future course of action concerning the Recommendation?
  • Broadening the scope of the Recommendation to include cultural heritage currently not addressed or minimally addressed (e.g. intangible and immovable cultural heritage)
  • Broadening the scope of the Recommendation to include the digital transformation of cultural heritage institutions, in addition to digitisation, online access and digital preservation of cultural heritage
  • Both of the above
  • No change, continue with the provisions of the Recommendation as they stand
Do you have something else to suggest for the future of the Recommendation?
Which of the following would be especially important to you in the event of a revision of the Recommendation, considering the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis? You can select multiple answers.
  • Digital transformation of the cultural heritage sector, including capacity building through acquisition and development of advanced digital literacy and skills
  • Cultural heritage currently not addressed (e.g. intangible and born-digital cultural heritage)
  • More consideration of immovable cultural heritage (archaeological sites, monuments and historic buildings)
  • Pan-European efforts for 3D digitisation of cultural heritage artefacts, monuments and sites
  • New quantitative targets for immovable cultural heritage to be digitised in 3D
  • Europeana's role as the EU flagship for online access to cultural heritage and as an enabler of digital transformation
  • Qualitative targets per Member State for Europeana content
  • Encouraging Member States to provide high-quality content to Europeana
  • More multilingual content, functionality and tools to enable users to experience content in their own language
  • Creating high-value cultural heritage data sets (e.g. sets of digitised cultural artefacts with high-quality metadata) for helping innovation in AI and for research
  • Provisions on online engagement, online participation, and online re-use
  • Empowerment of citizens as consumers, creators and 'prosumers'
  • Ethical and privacy issues arising in the context of digitising cultural heritage and providing online access to it
  • Other (please specify)

Other suggestions and comments[edit]

Do you have other suggestions for or comments on improving digitisation, online access, digital preservation and digital transformation in the cultural heritage sector?

Heritage collections are often split between different countries due to colonialism, migration, war or other factors, so that the culture and history of a nation or a people is dispersed across borders, hampering research and access. Digital tools provide a remedy to this issue. However, with the present patchwork of national laws and their consequences on copying for preservation and access to knowledge, it is often impossible to ensure access on a global scale. The EU should support efforts at the level of the World Intellectual Property Organization to negotiate an international instrument that provides robust limitations and exceptions for preservation.

If you like, you can also submit a file (e.g. position paper).