Following the introduction of a new licence requirement in September last year, any materials created or digitised using a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant must be made available to the broadest audience possible.

Open licences and public domain dedications are the methods by which this is achieved; meaning permission is granted for unfettered use of materials typically protected by copyright or other intellectual property laws, barring those subject to third party rights or other exceptions.

The relaxation of copyright and other protections has become an increasingly prominent issue over the past year, with many museums and galleries aiming to make their collections as digitally accessible as possible while visitors could not explore them in person.

Birmingham Museums opens its galleries and collections to a new online world

Heritage Fund has drafted in Dr Andrea Wallace and Dr Mathilde Pavis, both senior lecturers in Law at the University of Exeter, to compile a comprehensive guide to support funding applicants in fully understanding and meeting the licence requirement.

Organisations cited in the guidance as having taken a lead on opening up access to collections online include Wellcome Collection, Natural History Museum, Birmingham Museums Trust and University of Dundee.

National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital guide: working with open licences can be accessed here.

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