'Striking the Balance' between public access and commercial reuse of digital content

This report commissioned by the NMDC from the Collections Trust examines how museums are balancing the twin aims of maximising public access to their digital content and promoting their own financial sustainability. Striking the Balance sets out the findings and recommendations from an 18 month study of the different methods and approaches employed by NMDC member institutions. Key findings include:

  • No two museums are the same, and their approach to the balance between open access and commercial reuse is highly sensitive to their specific circumstances, capabilities, leadership, collections, audience, location and prior business model.
  • There is an overall lack of clarity in the definition of the different approaches to open content licensing and commercial reuse, and a lack of concerted policy in this area.
  • There are significant opportunities to develop hybrid models which combine open access and commercial reuse.
  • There is a growing body of evidence that open access to digital content for both commercial and non-commercial reuse drives value back to the existing business model or revenue streams of the institution.
  • There is a need for greater clarity in relation to expectations of commercial revenue generation.
  • There is a significant investment gap reported between the aspiration either to promote open access or commercial reuse and the extent to which participating institutions are able to invest in capacity, infrastructure and promotion to realise these ambitions.

The report contains case studies from across NMDC's membership and explores a range of issues including current trends, developing policies on access and reuse, understanding return on investment and different models for open access and commercial reuse.

Download the full report here.