3.4 The Final Product - Your Institutional IP Policy

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Developing an IP policy is both an art and a craft. The art lies in the vision: how you perceive IP as furthering your institution's mission and goals. The craft lies in identifying, culling, and keying in on the issues that will help you attain the vision. This Guide outlines general principles for developing IP policies in museums and provides a framework to help draft these policies, but there is no "one way" to accomplish this goal. The art and craft are of your choosing.

Since IP is largely governed in society by legal codes, the law plays a large role in the formulation of policy. Equally important, although often downplayed, is the role of institutional values. As the guiding tenets of an organization, values define both a standard of behavior and the underlying beliefs of an institution.Footnote 95 Those developing IP policies often find that the issues that stymie them the most are not the legal ones (which usually are addressed by resorting to interpretations of the law) but the ethical ones, which often require "institutional soul-searching" and force an organization to examine the basis for its beliefs and ethics.

In a presentation about the role of values in museum IP policyFootnote 96, Rachelle Browne of the Smithsonian Institution explored the complexity involved in identifying the sources of an institution's core values. She noted instances when museums may have a legal basis for choosing a particular path, but reject the legal position as unsound because it jeopardizes the museum's relationships with its communities, contradicts its mission and purpose, or does nothing to support its activities. Drawing upon positions espoused in the Ten Commandments ("thou shalt not steal"), the Golden Rule ("do unto others as you would have them do unto you"), and folk wisdom ("make new friends, but keep the old"), Browne emphasizes that the "legal issues should not be the sole lens through which a museum focuses its IP policy". Values and ethics play an equally important role, and are ultimately responsible for the spirit and aspirations of all policy.

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