Barriers in On-line Access to Culture


  • Barbara Dierickx
  • Dimitrios K. Tsolis


intellectual property, ATHENA Project, copyright, DRM, digitisation, Creative Commons, licensing


This article, derived from a report on Intellectual Property Rights of the ATHENA-project, discusses some present topics in current copyright. In the first part of the article an overview of collective licensing models is presented in relation to the digitisation and disclosure of cultural heritage content. It should be noted that the general scope of copyright will not be discussed in this article since it already featured extensively in the ATHENA report Overview of IPR legislation in relation to the objectives of Europeana, available online. Current trends in unlocking cultural heritage content by making it digitally available on the Internet are illustrated next. We take a look at the current copyright discussions within the European policy field, followed by an overview of collective licensing mechanisms. Another main part of the article concerns Digital Rights Management systems and their implementation. A rather technical overview is given of existing DRM systems; a definition of what these systems are and certain technological aspects of them are presented. At the end we take a look at new and emerging licensing models. Open content licenses and Creative Commons licenses in particular are discussed. Their application in the field of cultural heritage, as well as some cases and best practices, illustrate the theory before a general conclusion.

Author Biographies

Barbara Dierickx

Dierickx.jpg Barbara Dierickx holds Masters degrees in Communication Sciences and Cultural Sciences. She currently works at PACKED vzw, a non-profit organisation supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Flemish Community. PACKED combines two different kinds of activities: the development and dissemination of knowledge about and expertise in the digitisation of cultural heritage (especially cultural heritage in museum collections); and the development and dissemination of knowledge about and expertise in the preservation and archiving of audiovisual arts and audiovisual documents on art.

Dimitrios K. Tsolis

tsolis.jpg Dr. Dimitrios Tsolis is an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Computer Engineering and Informatics of the University of Patras. He is responsible for the courses ?Legal and Social Aspects of New Technologies?, ?Quality in Software Engineering?, ?Internet Technologies? and ?Introduction to Informatics?. His PhD focused on Digital Rights Management Systems for E-commerce and watermarking of digital images. He has over 50 publications in journals, conferences and technical reports on DRMS, copyright management and protection, E-commerce, etc.


How to Cite

Dierickx, B., & Tsolis, D. K. (2010). Barriers in On-line Access to Culture. Uncommon Culture, 1(1), 39–61. Retrieved from



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