2.0 Motivating Factors

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A variety of circumstances may motivate a museum to create an IP policy. Flagrant misappropriation of a museum's name, image, or collections is one frequent motivator. As these incidents increase and consume a greater amount of staff attention, a museum may be pressured to address the issue more systematically through policy development. Another motivating factor is a legal challenge brought against a museum, which can consume an enormous amount of time, energy, and money. The fear of legal problems often jumpstarts an institution to take measures designed to prevent legal entanglements. Internal problems also can force the issue, such as staff misuse of IP, endless struggles with freelancers and contractors over IP issues, persistent retail problems with product development and IP, etc. These types of problems can accumulate and become chronic, requiring a broader remedy to address mounting and unresolved issues.

The development of IP policy as a response to problems or crises is a double-edged sword. While it spurs a museum towards better governance of its IP assets, it also may result in a policy that takes an overly defensive or protectionist stance about those assets as a response to its "having been burned". Such a position does little to promote values and principles that further the mission of the institution, nor does it foster an environment that seeks to enable creative uses of IP.

Occasionally an institution will create an IP policy at the behest of an enlightened administrator, board, or legal counsel, who views such policy as part of the larger stewardship responsibility of a museum. Sometimes the motivating force comes from the grassroots, in the guise of a museum staff member who, having first-hand experience with day-to-day IP issues that arise in her institution, takes it upon herself to convince others of the need for such a policy. Institutions that house materials from indigenous cultures (referred to as "cultural property") are often motivated by the confusion that exists between Western and indigenous concepts of intellectual property, and look to create policy that accommodates these different world views.

When developing an IP policy it is important to consider what the motivating force behind it may be, as this can inadvertently slant or skew the outcome. If external issues such as legal challenges or misappropriation of assets spawned the process, special efforts are needed to prevent the policy from being a mere knee-jerk response or reaction to those issues.

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