Memories, Heritage, and Museums: IP in the Creative Economy

The role and importance of IP management within cultural institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives.

Memories, Heritage, and Museums: IP in the Creative Economy
Intellectual property (IP) plays a vital role in preserving our rich cultural heritage and fostering innovation within these esteemed institutions such as museums. IP laws, such as copyright, protect artistic and cultural works displayed in museums, ensuring their preservation and preventing unauthorised copying. By providing legal protection, IP encourages artists, researchers, creators, and innovators to contribute their works to museums, enriching cultural collections and fostering a vibrant creative ecosystem. Additionally, IP stimulates innovation by granting exclusive rights to inventors and encouraging them to disclose their inventions to museums, promoting knowledge sharing and further research and development within the museum community.
On May 18, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Museum Expo (IME) 2023 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, signalling the government's dedication to preserving India's heritage. The expo, held as part of the 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations on the 47th International Museum Day, revolves around the theme of "museums, sustainability, and well-being." Its objective is to facilitate meaningful discussions among professionals, promoting museums as cultural hubs and bolstering India's cultural diplomacy.
Additionally, a virtual walkthrough of the upcoming National Museum was presented, offering visitors a glimpse into 5,000 years of Indian civilisation as part of the Central Vista Redevelopment project.
The Indian government's commitment to conserving and promoting the country's cultural heritage and leaving a lasting legacy has been highlighted. Notably, significant efforts have been made to recover and repatriate 240 ancient artifacts in the past nine years, indicating a decline in the illicit smuggling of cultural treasures from India. In addition, the establishment of ten special museums to recognise the contributions of the tribal community to India's freedom struggle showcases the government's dedication to acknowledging diverse historical narratives. Furthermore, various cultural infrastructure projects, including dedicated museums for former Prime Ministers, special museums, and memorials, have been developed, reflecting the government's determination to preserve India's rich cultural legacy and foster cultural diplomacy.
Let’s understand the role and importance of IP management within cultural institutions such as museums, libraries and archives.

The term ‘museum’ originates from the Latin word ‘mouseion’, which means ‘temple of the muses’. Museums are defined by the International Council of Museums as permanent non-profit institutions that serve society and its development. IP plays a vital role in museums, safeguarding their unique assets and ensuring the protection of their valuable creations. Museums deal with various types of IP, including copyright, brands, industrial design, models, patents, confidential information, and domain names. Effective management of these IP assets is crucial for museums to preserve their cultural heritage, support educational initiatives, and foster innovation.
Copyright, trademarks, industrial design, patents, confidential information, and domain names are essential components of intellectual property (IP) management in museums. Museums assert copyright to control the use and reproduction of various materials, including publications, artworks, and multimedia productions, ensuring proper attribution and preventing unauthorised exploitation. Brands and trademarks, encompassing names, logos, and visual representations, create a distinctive cultural identity, enhance reputation, and effectively communicate museum values. Industrial design rights protect unique exhibit and merchandise designs, while patents safeguard novel conservation techniques and discoveries, promoting innovation. Safeguarding confidential information, such as user data and management practices, maintains a competitive edge. Effective management of domain names and social media identities establishes a strong online presence, engages audiences, and protects digital assets.
Museums are custodians of rich cultural heritage and knowledge. Proper management of IP is crucial for preserving this heritage, supporting educational endeavours, fostering innovation, and ensuring the sustainability of museums in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. By understanding and effectively managing the various types of IP discussed above, museums can continue to thrive and contribute to society while protecting their unique contributions for future generations.
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IP is an important aspect within this context. The emergence and development of IP rights have been linked to fostering economic growth. IP management is not limited to legal or economic fields but has expanded to areas such as Business and fields of research. Additionally, IP is seen to enable cumulative processes, as researchers build upon existing knowledge to create new technologies or products
Museums are constantly exploring sources of income. One approach is to create and protect their brand identity and commercialise it. This involves incorporating trademarks into their operations and leveraging their brand for revenue generation. Another strategy is to identify unique features that set the museum apart from others, such as distinctive architectural elements, and use these features as part of the museum's identity and commercialisation efforts. Museums should not be afraid of IP issues but should instead embrace copyrights and trademarks. The key is to understand these concepts
Museums have recognised the importance of expanding and diversifying their revenue streams to reach wider global audiences for quite some time. Copyright management presents unique challenges for museums, as they need to determine ownership and copyright protection for the works in their collections. Accurate acquisition records and provenance history play a pivotal role in resolving copyright-related queries. Museums must ensure the completeness and accuracy of their acquisition records to avoid legal complications. Proper management and compliance with copyright laws are essential for museums to strike a balance between preserving cultural heritage and respecting the rights of creators.
There has been a notable increase in licensing agreements between museums and brands. Museums are now licensing the cultural IP of their collections to brands, allowing them to use it for a wide range of products such as apparel, cosmetics, technology, food, and beverages. This strategy has been successfully employed in the sports and entertainment industries for years, and now the cultural sector is realising the potential of these licensing deals to transform their business and reach a global audience.
Licensing deals offer museums a commercial opportunity to diversify and subsidise their revenue streams. However, it is crucial to find the right brand partners and negotiate mutually beneficial agreements. ARTiSTORY, a company specialising in art and cultural IP licensing, for instance, begins by securing master licenses with renowned museums worldwide. They then develop designs and creative assets based on the museums' cultural IP, which they license to global brands and retailers on behalf of the museums. This approach ensures that the museums' commercial and branding interests are protected while providing brands and retailers with unique and high-quality creative assets derived from celebrated artworks. Striking the right balance is essential in these arrangements.
Moreover, licensing deals enable museums to reach broader audiences across different sectors and geographic regions. Collaborations between the Louvre's with CASETiFY, a tech accessory company, and MoMA's collaboration with, Uniqlo and Vans, show how museums can extend their reach beyond the cultural sector and engage millions of consumers.
In 2019, global sales of licensed goods amounted to $292.8 billion, following six consecutive years of growth. While art and non-profit museums historically represented only 1.5 % of these sales, these sectors are now experiencing significant growth. For example, the Louvre's brand partnerships generated approximately $5.3 million in 2020, compared to $3.2 million in 2019.
A new digital immersive art travelling exhibition, Van Gogh 360-degree arrived in India at Mumbai’s World Trade Centre in the beginning of 2023. The exhibition is currently being staged in New Delhi and will tour 15 more cities in the country, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Pune. Vincent Willem van Gogh’s artworks are getting a 360° technological adaptation. The exhibition displays over 300 of Van Gogh’s unbelievably top-notch works.

India is home to over 1,200 museums representing our rich and diverse blend of cultural, religious and scientific achievements over the years. Private museums in India have witnessed a significant rise in the past decade, reflecting the growing interest of business dynasties and serious collectors in sharing their art collections with the public. These private initiatives go beyond the mere acquisition of artworks, aiming to create cultural spaces that nurture art communities. Inspired by the idea that art belongs not only to individuals but also to the culture, collectors like Ajay Piramal, Kiran Nadar, and Anupam Poddar have established private museums to showcase their collections as well as artworks from other collectors. These museums, funded by the founders themselves or through philanthropic grants, offer free admission and strive to achieve global standards, emphasising the importance of high-quality exhibits and engaging programs.
Setting up a private museum in India involves costs ranging from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 5 crore, which includes expenses for lighting, licenses, legal fees, curator salaries, and managerial costs. Unlike government-funded museums, private ventures have the advantage of faster establishment and better control over the quality of exhibits. Seeking support from corporate houses is a viable path for these museums, as demonstrated by early ventures such as The Calico Museum of Textiles and the Birla Academy of Art & Culture, which received support from industrial families. However, Indian museums still face challenges in terms of management, maintenance, and conservation. To overcome these issues, private museums are focusing on cataloguing, restoration, archiving, and ensuring financial stability through endowments or dedicated funding. Additionally, the success of private museums in India depends on the integration of engaging programs that facilitate the interaction of artists, collectors, curators, and students, transforming these spaces into vibrant cultural hubs.
A notable example of a successful public-private partnership can be seen in the case of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum. While the institution falls under the authority of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), its management is carried out through a collaborative effort between the MCGM, the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation, and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). Another instance of a successful public-private partnership is observed in the Kolkata Museum of Modern Art. This museum operates through a tripartite collaboration involving the Indian government, the government of West Bengal, and the private sector. These examples showcase how the implementation of PPP models can foster collaboration and contribute to the establishment of top-quality museums in India.
Licensing cultural IP programs also effectively engage younger audiences, who view art as means of self-expression. Furthermore, licensing cultural IP allows museums to enhance their brand positioning and gain greater recognition. This is primarily achieved by executing cultural IP on products in increasingly sophisticated ways. Mere replication of artwork on a t-shirt, or phone case or simply featuring a photograph of the artwork on a product is no longer sufficient. Consumers now demand unique, beautiful, and meticulously crafted products. ARTiSTORY, for instance, draws inspiration from museums' cultural IP to develop on-trend themes, style guides, narratives, and bespoke creative assets like prints and patterns that can be licensed to brands. This approach transforms artworks and artifacts into captivating stories and narratives that are more engaging, impactful, and attractive to brands and consumers. Employing a well-considered approach to creative execution is crucial to fully reap the benefits of IP licensing deals.
Google Arts & Culture is an attempt to make art available to everyone. It enable cultural organisations to share their cultural treasures and narratives with a worldwide online audience using various tools and technologies.
It has a presence in over 80 countries and supports more than 2,000 cultural institutions. It offers access to a vast collection of resources, including over 200,000 high-resolution digital images of original artworks, 7 million archival artifacts, 1,800 Street View museum captures, and over 3,000 online exhibitions curated by experts. These diverse offerings are seamlessly integrated into a unified experience.
Through the platform, visitors can explore and discover artworks, landmarks, and world heritage sites. They can also delve into digital exhibitions and explore fascinating stories behind the archives of cultural institutions worldwide.

Google has no rights to any of the artworks it photographs or displays for Art Project. Google Arts & Culture has adopted a unique approach to intellectual property rights on its platform. According to the platform's intellectual property policy, the museums retain ownership of the high-resolution imagery of the artworks featured on the site, and these images may be protected by copyright laws worldwide. On the other hand, Google owns the Street View imagery. The purpose of providing all the imagery on the site is to enable users to utilise and enjoy the platform in accordance with Google's Terms of Service. Therefore, the normal Google Terms of Service govern the usage of the entire site.

IP Wave Text by: Shivani

Reviewed by: Aurko

Designed by: IP Wave