Digitisation and online accessibility of Europe’s cultural heritage
The Commission’s Reflection Group on Digitisation, established in April 2010, has now launched its consultation and seeks views on how to boost the online presence of Europe’s cultural heritage. The purpose is to speed up the online accessibility and preservation of cultural works across Europe.
One of the main questions is of course how to fund the digitisation and online accessibility. The reflection group was specifically asked, by the Commission, to consider the possibilities that lie in public-private partnerships. Digitisation by public funding raises many questions in itself, and the reflection group therefore also seeks views, in the survey, on acceptable exploitation models for content digitised and made available through public funding.
The Copyright Duration Directive of 29th October 1993 (93/98/EF, now 2006/116/EF) harmonized the duration of copyright in Europe, and article 1 states that “The rights of an author of a literary or artistic work … shall run for the life of the author and for 70 years after his death”. This means that our cultural heritage includes both material on which the copyright has expired and on which the copyright still applies. Therefore the reflection group specifically also asks for views on how to bring more copyright protected material online and on how to ensure cross–border access to digitised resources.
The National Library of Norway solved some of the issues of digitising copyright protected material through a contract with Kopinor, who represents copyright holders of published works through 22 member organizations, consisting of 5 publishers' associations and 17 authors' associations. The contract may be viewed online at: http://www.nb.no/pressebilder/Contract_NationalLibraryandKopinor.pdf
The National Library of Norway has made large parts of its digitised material publicly available on Internet, partly as downloadable PDF’s and partly as material only viewable online in the internet browser. Already at the opening the material included 12 000 books on which the copyright still applied, which was made possible by the contract with Kopinor, in addition to vast material on which the copyright has expired. The internet service of The National Library of Norway now includes, in addition to other material, all books published in Norway during the 1690’s, 1790’s, 1890’s and 1990’s.
The consultation of the Commission’s Reflection Group on Digitisation will run until 30th September 2010. By the end of 2010 the group will adopt its recommendations on how to achieve digitisation and online accessibility of Europe’s cultural heritage. The consultation is accessible at the following web address: http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=comitedessages&lang=en