Museums across the country are grappling with the emerging industry standard of in-house Rights and Reproductions (“R&R”) regimes. But museum professionals are still very far away from establishing harmonized policies or procedures regarding R&R. Conferences are helping to solve this problem.

For example, the Museum Computer Network‘s annual conference is coming up this November in Chicago. I haven’t decided if I will make a surprise appearance yet or not, but the program is really interesting, featuring several topics relevant to the increasingly complex R&R problems presenting themselves:

  • “New Opportunities and New Technologies: The Evolving Field for Image Professionals”
  • “Learning How to Share I: Making CDWA Lite Work for You”
  • “Looking Forward, Looking Back: Copyright at the Australian War Memorial”
  • “Collections, Copyright, and Carl Malamud: Balancing Risk Management with Audience Expectations in the Display of Online Images”
  • “Copyright, Museums, and the Digital Age”

A friend of mine once lamented the lack of speed of non-profit organizations, such as most museums. Something I have noticed is that a consortium of museums is not hard to form. It’s simply hard to actually make it do anything. They have no mechanisms to pool resources except personal time and commitment on the persons at the institutions who wish to contribute to the common welfare. Absent a profit motive, nothing gets done. Where does that leave us? Three thousand institutions, each one with monkeys at typewriters coming up with nothing akin to Shakespeare.