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to establish a process that enables end-to-end clearance (preferably a centralised one
for many cultural heritage institutions), with limited negotiation of individual
to achieve quick turnaround time from initial request to delivery of rights-cleared
material (with a standard in the industry that averages from overnight to two days),
for rights-restricted material: standardised and well-understood rate structures for
various uses need to be developed.
After having listed prerequisites for being a competitive licensor of rights-protected
property, the authors of the CHIN-report mention:"Industry representatives suggest that
the cost to develop competitive licensing systems and processes, as well as to develop and
maintain collection catalogues could be prohibitive to entering the market.They recom-
mend an alliance or partnership with an existing agency or broker as an alternative to
building an in-house system." (CHIN, 1999: p. 15)
While it is certainly true that the barriers to entry into the market for cultural heritage
institutions are high, the partnership option with a renowned and effective agency (e.g. the
Bridgeman Art Library: <>) seems to be realistic only for
institutions with high valued art or unique special collections. How to generate revenues
through the licensing of less well-known resources online, and how to then spit these
between agencies and institutions, is an unexplored question: Dominique Delouis,
President, Cultural Heritage On Line, Paris estimates that while the usual rate in the
traditional market is 10 percent of the licence fee for the agency, on the online market
place it could well be up to 50 percent,"because, of course, the marketing is quite difficult."
(DigiCULT ERT, Edinburgh, July 24, 2001)
Finding the niche and developing a strategy
A question not addressed in the CHIN-report is, whether most cultural heritage insti-
tutions really have to compete with the big players as for example that can
deliver an image within minutes of a licensing request.There are other routes to unlock the
value of cultural heritage, including commercial opportunities. Reading the CHIN-report
it becomes clear that:
there are established traditional relationships or at least contact points with the
publishing and broadcasting industry,
uniqueness and historic authenticity of cultural heritage resources are the key
elements in the demand and usage,
the knowledge and expertise of cultural heritage experts in selecting and
contextualising resources provides value added.
Therefore, rather then competing with large image stock agencies and brokers, building
on these strength and using new technologies to develop their own "niche market" seems
to be the adequate strategy for most cultural heritage institutions.
One key element in such a strategy is to establish or further develop a cultural heritage
brand based on authenticity, knowledge-based interpretation and contextualisation.This
would be anyway, as experts in the DigiCULT Expert Round Table on exploitation
highlighted, a value generating activity and what cultural heritage organisations are
essentially about.
A second key element would be to actively develop cultural and historical themes
together with cultural industries and the media. Publishers, broadcasters and other stake-