Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Impact of the Commons on image sales at the Powerhouse

April 7th, 2009 by Seb Chan

As many readers know, Paula Bray, our manager of Visual and Digitisation Services, has been working on a paper for Museums and the Web looking at the impact of the Commons on Flickr on our image sales business.

Paula’s paper has been published over at Archimuse and if you are going to be in Indianapolis next week you’ll be able to get the visually enhanced interactive version.

Over on our Photo of the Day blog, Paula has added some updated figures that give a clearer picture of the impact of the Commons. Have a read and feel free to ask questions either here or on Photo of the Day. I’ll make sure Paula gets them.

We are celebrating our 1st birthday in the Commons on Flickr tomorrow and have an exciting announcement waiting . . .

Tags: 4 Comments

  • http://www.frankieroberto.com/ Frankie Roberto

    Interesting to know that you have collecting societies for artistic works in Australia – I don’t think such a thing exists in the UK.

    Seeing as schools and educational institutions seem to pay a blanket per-pupil fee (according to Paula’s paper), I suppose this means that even if schools do use your open access images, they’re not actually going to reduce any of their costs unless they switch to exclusively using only open-access material, and are thus able to stop paying for the usage licence? Is this ever realistically feasible, or is the only way out of this some form of legislative change adding a provision for fair use to your copyright laws?

  • Seb Chan

    @Frankie: yeah it is complicated. We do have an exemption for ‘research and study’ but an organisation and its staff cannot claim this – only an individual student.

    In really generic terms this means that a student can photocopy parts of a book but if a teacher makes photocopies and distributes them to students the school needs a CAL licence.

    This is complicated in the digital space where the same rules that applied to photocopiers now apply to the viewing of websites in class etc.

    Schools are randomly audited and their results are extrapolated for the whole sector and fees are charged accordingly (and payments made to creators – we’ve been paid fees from publicly funded schools for the use of resources made with fees from publicy funded schools . . . ).

    There is a huge push for Open Education Resources in Australia and projects like the Learning Federation are about providing fully-cleared material for use in schools – with the intention of massively reducing the CAL license payments.

    My understanding is that in the UK you have similar licenses from the CLA – http://www.cla.co.uk/Education_licences.php

  • LyndaK

    Good stuff and congrats, but are you making any money Seb?! (as you can tell I’m obsessed with this issue at the moment!)

  • Seb Chan

    @lynda image sales generate revenue and we’ll find that this financial year is up quite a bit on the last. That is a good result – one that has been helped, not hindered, by the exposure that the Commons has given us. Indeed, the Commons is generating a whole lot of new individual sales of images – and is not impacting on the institutional or business sales of the same images.

    But I’m yet to hear of any museum whose image sales is profitable – that is, it generates more income than it costs once all staff costs and externalities are included.

    The WIPO report is pretty clear about this.