On the VRA listserv, Christine Sundt pointed to a brief article about a new policy at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (V&A) – our friends in the UK have decided, so the headline of the article, to “scrap academic reproduction fees” for their images early next year. Alan Seal, Head of Records and Collections Services, talked briefly about this move during MCN, commenting that the V&A is poised to put upwards of 30k digital images in high resolution online very soon. It looks as though the V&A will use OAI and CDWA Lite to make the images available – Alan has been participating in the monthly conference calls of our Museum Collections Sharing Working Group, and seems well poised to become a major implementer of this suite of standards.
I recently guest-spoke in the JFK University Museum Studies Program, and it never fails to amaze me how alive & well expectations of significant revenue through reproduction still are. I had two quotes from Simon Tanner’s study for them, which I think made some of the students reconsider:
“Museums do not carry out image creation or rights and reproduction activity because of its profitability.”
“Everyone interviewed wants to recoup costs but almost none claimed to actually achieve or expected to achieve this.”
I’m thrilled to hear that the V&A has made the gutsy move to value the increased circulation of their materials higher than the (comparatively small) revenue stream they have achieved by licensing it!