Just the other day the European Commission issued a progress report entitled Progress on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation across the EU.
The associated press releases explains: “Europe’s cultural diversity in books, music, paintings, photographs, and films open to all citizens at the click of a mouse via one portal – this dream of a European Digital Library could become reality this autumn. However, further efforts by the EU Member States are needed, said the Commission today (…).Europe’s libraries alone contain more than 2.5 billion books, but only about 1% of archival material is available in digital form. The Commission therefore called on Member States to do more to make digitised works available online for Europeans to browse them digitally, for study, work or leisure. The Commission itself will provide some € 120 million in 2009-2010 for improving online access to Europe’s cultural heritage.
(…) € 69 million from the EU’s research programme will go to digitisation activities and the development of digital libraries. In the same period, Europe’s Competitiveness and Innovation Programme will allocate about € 50 million to improve access to Europe’s cultural content. However, the total cost of digitising five million books in Europe’s libraries is already estimated at approximately € 225 million, not including objects like manuscripts or paintings. Realising the vision of a European Digital Library (Europeana) needs substantial investment from national institutions, but at present most countries only provide small scale, fragmented funding for digitisation. The Commission today called on Member States to raise digitisation capacities to make their collections available for Europe’s citizens, team up with the private sector, and address the following priorities:
* More funding needs to be allocated to digitisation, along with plans for how much material will be digitised.
* Most countries still lack methods, technologies and experience for the preservation of digital material, vital so that content remains accessible to future generations.
* Common standards need to be implemented to make different information sources and databases compatible for and usable by the European Digital Library (Europeana) (…).
Public domain content
The Staff Working Paper accompanying the progress report includes this paragraph: “Public domain content in the analogue world should remain in the public domain in the digital environment. If restrictions to user access and use are necessary in order to make the content available at all, these restrictions should only apply for a limited time period” (7.1.3., p.23)
‘An interesting statement’, says Patrick Peiffer (National Library of Luxembourg) ‘since Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) deals and institutions tend to cover public domain works with new exclusive rights’.
He further points out that 20-21 October a very relevant (free) Public Domain workshop will take place in Amsterdam: http://www.communia-project.eu/node/109