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How to foster the digitisation of public domain material across Europe?

A report related to the "i2010: Digital Libraries Initiative" has just been released (as a pdf file). The project sets out to make all Europe’s cultural resources and scientific records accessible to all, and preserve it for future generations - with a key goal to further develop the Europeana portal.

Within the context of such initiative, on 28 October 2010 representatives from COMMUNIA and La Quadrature du Net participated in Brussels in a public hearing of the "Comité des Sages" on Bringing Europe's Cultural Heritage Online. The hearing minutes are now available as a pdf file as well, including the specific recommendations provided by COMMUNIA on public domain issues.

Among other considerations, the final report states: "The Comité feels strongly that public domain material digitised with public money should be freely accessible for all. This should be part of the funding conditions for the digitisation of public domain material across Europe." On the other hand, however, further below the document adds: "Cultural institutions can, however, ask private companies to pay for the commercial re-use of the material, in order to recoup the digitisation costs and finance further digitization."

As an initial reply to such statements, COMMUNIA member Philippe Aigrain points out: "If a digitized version of a public domain work is in the public domain there is no legal basis for making conditions on its reuse (it is actually contrary to fundamental right to create any). You can create taxes, public trusts, statutory contributions, or voluntary resource pooling to raise resources for digitizing."

Please download and read the full report on the Bringing Europe's Cultural Heritage Online initiative. [10jan11]

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