Sunday, July 29, 2012

PMA Meetings 2012 - Part 2

Bill C-11: The Copyright Modernization Act
Copyright is scary. So are polar bears.
Canadian Museum of Nature
Oh copyright. Everyone's favourite thing to deal with in museums. This is one of those topics where people's eyes begin to glaze over. So here is a brief overview of changes as given to us by a lawyer.
1. The Distribution Right - this gives creators the right to authorize the first transfer of ownership of the work, and since the distribution right is needed to widely share the info, this gives creators a bit more control.
2. The Making Available Right - the copyright owner can prevent online sharing & take action against the person/group that published the work online
3. Term Extension for Published Performances and Sound Recordings - The current copyright limit of 50 years from performance or recording is being adjusted. So if the work was published, another 50 years is added to the maximum of 99 years. This is for physical distribution only, and does not count online sharing as publishing.
4. Moral Rights for Performer - same as author's rights, and will not be grandfathered into the new legislation.
5. Fair Dealing: Parody, Satire, Education - what concerned us all here is that education has only been discussed as "formal setting", meaning in a school. Since museums are in the business of education, we will be watching this very closely.
6. User Exceptions - these are subject to specific conditions, but we heard that you can make reproductions for private purposes, later listening or viewing, or to make a back-up copy. Any non-commercial user generated content must give credit to the source and you can't exploit the existing work in an adverse way.

Does that all make sense? I'm sure you're following right along. Ok, so what else does this mean for museums?
1. Exceptions are being extended so that we can manage and maintain collections - ie. we can reproduce a work of art in an alternate format for preservation purposes.
2. Photographs follow the life+50 rule for copyright, and under the new bill it won't matter who commissioned the photograph. The photographer always holds the rights. So if you have staff or volunteers taking photographs for the museum, this means they will hold the rights unless you ask them to sign over all rights to the museum or society.

CHIN's Professional Exchange 2011 Survey
Sorry to CHIN, but these results were rather amusing to some of us around the table. For anyone not familiar with the Pro-X, it's a massive online resource for museums. Links to all sorts of good stuff that helps us do our work. "Surprisingly", the results of the survey were that people are looking for information on the basics - collections management, databases, digitization - stuff to help them manage collections. CHIN has put a lot of focus on special technologies in recent years, such as our QR code project, and so they were a little surprised that more people weren't looking for these tech-savvy innovative resources. But as we discussed this, all the PMAs agreed that while a few of our members are ready to tackle these fun and fancy things, most are still working on the basics. If someone is still entering a massive backlog into their database, they aren't going to embark on an augmented reality project. So the results of the survey seem very accurate in reflecting the reality of museums across the country.
This moose is preserved. Are your records?
Canadian Museum of Nature

CHIN's Digital Preservation Survey
So CHIN did another survey last year, this one focusing on the volume and type of digital assets held by museums, and the needs of these museums to manage said assets. I am always preaching backups, and 37% of respondents said they had lost files, and many had old floppy disks or tapes or other old formats that they are very difficult or impossible to read due to advances in technology. What CHIN learned through this survey is that many museums don't have the resources to complete an inventory of these assets, have unstable storage conditions, and have things stored in various places. Respondents identified digitization and preservation strategies as their greatest need, so CHIN will be working on a final report and figuring out how they can help address these issues.

New Technologies
This is the fun stuff. What's coming down the line? Let's start with what's here now: mobiles and tablet computing. No denying that. Next up is augmented reality and electronic publishing, following by digital preservation and smart objects.
With mobiles, most museum apps are audioguides at this point. If you want to learn more check out this recent survey. Other mobile experiences are being created through QR codes, and using existing location-based services such as Foursquare, Historypin, and SCVNGR. Tablets are being used in education and on tours to give visitors more information.
Augmented reality has great potential for education, as it allows you to combine social aspects as well as an overlay of digital information onto a physical space. Electronic publishing is mostly limited to duplicating print publications right now, but there is also big potential here - your imagination is the limit kind of thing.
Digital preservation has surfaced as a major issue since our technology is changing so rapidly. We need to be able to read all those old files (at least the important ones) and so we're experiencing software and hardware issues. Not everyone has kept their 8-track player. Smart objects are basically virtual representations that explain how they work and give the user extra information. Again this is very geographically oriented and relies on mobile technology.

PMA Meetings 2012 - Part 1
PMA Meetings 2012 - Part 3

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