There are six variations of the CC license.

This handy poster describes the conditions for all six and the meaning behind their symbols

Although not immediately about art and museums, this video by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen of PHD Comics illustrates precisely my feelings towards open access.

The internet has a colonial structure that looks a bit different from that of museums but ultimately has the same underlying structure. Perhaps the difference is due to the variation is modes of oppression. At its most basic definition, colonialism refers to the domination of territory. On the internet, the idea of colonialism follows the same historical trends of empire-building in which a centralized authority holds power and contests the foundations of freedom and democracy. 

For example, taxonomy and metadata tend to be hidden in online museum platforms. One solution to this problem is exemplified by the Art Institute of Chicago's Open Access initiative. Their data hub and Open Access API allow visitors to be more aware of the internal process of the platform. 

Before I being to answer these crucial questions, I will first describe the crux of my argument. If there is one thing you get out of visiting this page, I hope it’s this: the lack of accessibility and hegemonic narratives are not caused by the internet (and other such technological developments), but rather, they are biases deeply embedded in our societal structures. We have to avoid the hybrid society in which museums and internet colonial structures intertwine and conversely, use the internet as an opportunity for museums to make a societal change and decolonize knowledge.


The last few years have seen a paradigm shift in which museums have become increasingly active online. Some are adding new content to their online platforms as a (mostly) temporary response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others are planning for a long-term change, thinking about how they can benefit from the ubiquity of the internet.* Regardless of the speed of each individual museum’s shift, the motivations seem to be the same: they are re-interpreting their mission statements to enable visitors more of a voice.

Out of all the cultural organizations that are thinking digitally, many are concurrently thinking about the principle of “openness.” By this, I am referring to the possibilities for access made possible by the internet. For museums today, much of this new content has taken the form of designing user experience tools, encouraging discussion and exchange from users/visitors.

My research at large considers the ways in which Open Access models can help disrupt the colonial narratives that are inherently part of the histories of art and culture. Walter Mignolo emphasizes that coloniality is constitutive of modernity (see here for resources on decolonial theory). My aim is to continue the ethos to decolonize the structures of the internet.

Open Access for Cultural Heritage:

Decolonizing Museum Presence Online

Francisca Rudolph

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization dedicated to “building a globally-accessible public commons of knowledge and culture.” Creative Commons licensed research promotes free access and re-use of creative and scholarly work. They firmly believe that people can accomplish great things by sharing creative wealth and ultimately hope to help build a more vibrant culture. In summary, Creative Commons exists to provide free copyright licenses and enable copyright owners to dedicate their work to the public domain.

To understand CC, we first need to understand the basics of copyright. When we create something, we automatically own the “all rights reserved” copyright (our right as the creator to own that work). It is our intellectual property.

A (very) Brief Case Study:

I would like to use the CC icon on this page for the purpose of this demonstration. If I'm following the CC attribution guidelines correctly, I will do the following:

  1. Go to
  2. Download the icon I want as a png 
    • (this particular icon is a registered trademark used to identify the source of a CC service or product, note that I'm not using it for that purpose here)
  3. Section 5 of the Creative Commons Master Terms of Use says that content on this site is licensed under CC BY 4.0, meaning that I'm allowed to share and adapt the logo as long as I follow the following license terms:
    • I may not apply legal terms that prevent others from doing anything the license permits 
    • I must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made

How can museum online platforms disrupt colonial narratives that are part of museology?


How do we create a more transparent platform?

How do we navigate this without re-entrenching the colonialist views of the museum world into the internet?

And how do we simultaneously manage to keep content inclusive, expansive, and critical?

This is all just to show that not only is there a lot to learn about CC, but also other Open Source and similar licenses.

So if I do this, and indicate that I made a change, then I'm all good, right?


I'm only authorized to modify the color of the trademark unless the CC logo and its background colors have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1

So this is ok

Another entry point to the museum

Multiple interpretations (through functions such as comments and flagging)

Allow possibilities for remix

Open Access

In order for this to happen, it seems like participation is key.** Museums are reevaluating and revising their missions to adapt to the digital in a way that tears down barriers of access to allow for more visitor participation and dialogue. We might call this community-building.

So, what are the benefits of museum adaptation of the Open Access model?


One Small Detail (what you’ll find on this page)


  • Remarks on the relevance and benefits of going OA
  • Basic information on Creative Commons licensing
  • Definitions of relevant terms

This video called, "Wanna Work Together?" provides a brief and digestible explanation of Creative Commons licenses.

CC also provides public domain tools:

I have just created this clip of a stick person doing a jig. I automatically own the copyright to this work (which applies until 70 years after I die). But say I want to offer it to the world so that others may freely build upon, enhance, and reuse it for any purpose without restriction under copyright law.


CC0 is a universal tool. I apply CC0 to this work which waves copyright and related rights worldwide. Now, this guy is free from all these restrictions to the greatest extent possible! This means that others can copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work (even from commercial purposes) without asking permission.


To apply for the license, all I have to do is go here or here.

Then fill out some basic information, click the “waive copyright” button, read the terms, confirm that I read and understand the terms.


Now this guy is free from all these restrictions to the greatest extent possible!


It's important to note that once these rights are waived, I cannot reclaim them.


CC does not keep a record of licenses so as the publisher it’s up to me to let others know how they may use my work. To make it official, I have to mark my work with the waiver. I have used the suggested HTML and placed it below the video.


I'm also including a link to the CC0 license for good measure here.

In a world that has increasingly become algorithmically coded—from our conversations with our smart devices to our financial markets—it seems important to look at the aesthetic and social impact of these codes and ask, what kinds of programs do we create to express ourselves or to govern the world we live in?  - Christiane Paul

Cross-cultural content

Access in multiple languages

To the extent possible under law, Francisca Rudolph has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Stick person does a jig. This work is published from: United States.