NMDC Report 'Striking the Balance'

Richard Stephens made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Royal Museums Greenwich

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Royal Museums Greenwich,

My questions are posed in the context of the 2015 NMDC report ’Striking the Balance’ here:
https://www.nationalmuseums.org.uk/media...

Firstly, the report found it ‘notoriously difficult to identify detailed information about the commercial return which museums realise’ from the licensing of images, which was ‘often attributable to a fear that management will perceive the activity as not worth it (and hence that it may place jobs at risk)’ [p.30].

Secondly, the report found ‘a growing body of evidence that open access to digital content for both commercial and non-commercial re-use drives value back to the existing business model or revenue streams of the institution.’ [executive summary]. Participants in the research expressed ‘an emerging recognition that indirect, even non-financial return-on-investment (such as improved reputation, brand equity or audience profile) may be of equal or greater value than direct financial income, with all of its associated costs.’[p.29] Finally (in case the point was not yet clear) the report stated that ‘Many times during the course of this study, participants have expressed the view that the return on investment on open access in terms of increased revenues through existing business channels is greater than the actual or potential return to be had from image licensing.’ [p.38]

In the light of the above, could you please tell me:

[1] What research, discussions, reports etc have been undertaken at your institution to measure the profitability or return on investment of the institution’s licensing of either or both of (a) any images in its collection; and (b) its images of out-of-copyright works of art specifically, as distinct from measuring the gross income that such activities might produce?

[2] Given the findings of the NMDC report ‘Striking the Balance', about the benefits of open access for both non-commercial and commercial re-users, could you please tell me what research, discussions, reports etc have been undertaken at your institution to assess the idea of moving to open access for digital images of works of art in your collection? (ie its general desirability and/or feasibility)

[3] If any such work has taken place as envisaged under [1] and [2] could you please share the main documents or written communications with me, to the extent that this is compatible with the museum's commercial interests? I will understand, obviously, if you would need to redact certain financial details from documents.

[4] Has your institution considered whether licensing images is compatible with its legal obligations under charity law to deploy the charity’s assets in the best possible way for its beneficiaries and to act with reasonable care and skill? To explain: I am wondering if this may have been something your Trustees have felt necessary to consider, (a) if a proper assessment hasn’t been made as to profitability, and (b) in view of NMDC’s finding of the superiority of the open licensing model, and (c) in view of the fact that preservation of jobs was cited in the NMDC’s report to justify the current model rather than maximising charity assets for the public benefit.

[5] Concerning the NMDC report ‘Striking the Balance’ specifically, can you please tell me what discussion and/or actions that report prompted at your institution? Could you very kindly give me particulars?

Thank you very much for considering these questions.

Yours sincerely,
Richard Stephens

Dear Royal Museums Greenwich,

I would be grateful if you would disregard my question [4] from the FOI request I made yesterday. I don't think it would produce an informative answer, therefore it wouldn't be right for me to ask you to spend time on it.

Best wishes
Richard

Freedom of Information, Royal Museums Greenwich

Dear Richard Stephens

Thank you for your email of 20 December. I confirm your request for
information will be dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Gray
Museum Secretary
Direct +44 (0)208 312 6637

Royal Museums Greenwich
National Maritime Museum | Cutty Sark
Royal Observatory | The Queen's House
+44 (0)208 858 4422

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Freedom of Information, Royal Museums Greenwich

Dear Richard Stephens

Thank you for your email below which I have noted.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Gray
Museum Secretary
Direct +44 (0)208 312 6637

Royal Museums Greenwich
National Maritime Museum | Cutty Sark
Royal Observatory | The Queen's House
+44 (0)208 858 4422

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Christopher Gray, Royal Museums Greenwich

Dear Richard Stephens

 

Thank you for your email of 20 December which I confirm has been dealt
with in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

The information you requested is noted on your email below.

 

I hope that you are happy with the service you have received in relation
to your request but if not and you wish to make a complaint you should
write to me, Christopher Gray, Museum Secretary at the Park Row address
below.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. (Generally, the
Information Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted
the above complaints procedure provided by the National Maritime Museum.)

 

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Christopher Gray

Museum Secretary

 

Royal Museums Greenwich

National Maritime Museum  |  Royal Observatory Greenwich  |  The Queen's
House | Cutty Sark

 

Park Row

Greenwich, London SE10 9NF

direct +44 (0) 208 312 6637

 

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Dear Royal Museums Greenwich,

I am writing to request an internal review of Royal Museums Greenwich's handling of my FOI request 'NMDC Report Striking the Balance'. I asked the museum:

"[1] What research, discussions, reports etc have been undertaken at your institution to measure the profitability or return on investment of the institution’s licensing of either or both of (a) any images in its collection; and (b) its images of out-of-copyright works of art specifically, as distinct from measuring the gross income that such activities might produce?"

and

"[3] If any such work has taken place as envisaged under [1] and [2] could you please share the main documents or written communications with me, to the extent that this is compatible with the museum's commercial interests? I will understand, obviously, if you would need to redact certain financial details from documents."

The museum told me, in relation to [1], that no such information exists and that [3] was therefore not applicable. However, in response to another FOI request, as follows:

"how much the RMG has raised in revenue by selling images and licences for the last five years, annually, after all costs have been accounted for ?"

you divulged a spreadsheet with the heading 'Royal Museums Greenwich Picture Library' that shows detailed information about the net income after costs, for the years 2012-3, 2013-4, 2014-5, 2015-6, 2016-7 and the first nine months of 2017-8.

Profit is the amount of income that is left over after all the costs have been accounted for, and this spreadsheet demonstrates that the museum has analysed profitability. I would be grateful, therefore, if the museum would review its response to my questions [1] and [3]. You mentioned that you had replied to my FOI request in accordance with the FOI Act but I maintain that your response did not meet the Act's most basic requirement as follows:

Section 1 (a) of the 2000 Act: to be informed whether the public authority holds the information
Section 1 (b) of the 2000 Act: to have that information communicated to me

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

Thank you for looking into this,

Richard Stephens

Christopher Gray, Royal Museums Greenwich

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Stephens

Thank you for your email request of 6 February 2018.

Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) conducted an Internal Review on 14 February
2018 by the Director, Finance and IT, and the Director, Operations and HR
with the Museum Secretary in attendance.

The Internal Review found that your request of 20 December 2017 had been
answered by RMG in view of your requests being "...posed in the context of
the 2015 NMDC report Striking the Balance". Your references to the NMDC
report throughout your email led RMG to consider your requests to be
solely for information constructed in relation or response to that report.
In consequence you received the correct response of no such information
existing.

If a request is considered unclear we will always provide the requestor
with advice and guidance to clarify the request. In this case your request
appeared to be unambiguous and was answered accordingly.

However, the Internal Reviewers are grateful to you for clarifying that
you are seeking the straight-forward and standard management accounting
data on the activity RMG classifies as "Picture Library". Your request of
20 December makes no reference to timescale but we are pleased now to
attach a table with all Income and Expenditure lines since April 2012 -
which we hope assists your research. We confirm that no other information
exists in relation to your request of 20 December.

We hope you are content with the outcome of the Internal Review but if not
you may contact the Information Commissioner at:
The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Christopher Gray
Museum Secretary

Royal Museums Greenwich
National Maritime Museum | Royal Observatory Greenwich | The Queen's House
| Cutty Sark

Park Row
Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
direct +44 (0) 208 312 6637

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