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Europeana launches its testing website

The Europeana project, now open for online testing, aims at bringing together millions of digitised resources from Europe’s archives, museums, libraries and audio visual collections in a single portal.

The Europeana demo includes an intriguing video introduction and an online survey open to the public (with an iPhone lottery). Expanding the idea of a European digital library and directed by the European Digital Library Foundation, the project is funded by the European Commission within the i2010 initiatives to create a European Information Society.

Europeana is developing practical, user-defined tools for exploring and sharing content in a multilingual interface. The tools will make it easy for users to combine or compare related material across different countries – for example the artefacts, imagery, records and writings relating to the Roman Empire, the Vikings or the Renaissance. Users will be able to use sophisticated browsing and searching to find paintings, photographs, objects, books, newspapers, archival records, films and sound that have been digitised by Europe’s heritage organisations.

The first, fully operative prototype (scheduled for November 2008) will give direct access to at least 2 million digitised objects, including books, photos, maps, sounds, films and archival records from Europe's libraries, archives, museums and audio-visual collections.

Licences for EU public sector information

In Netherlands the Institute for Information Law has released a research on the use of Creative Commons licenses for distribution of public sector information by government bodies.

This research has resulted in a report titled Creative Commons licensing for public sector information: Opportunities and pitfalls.

While the report focuses on the situation in the Netherlands it should be of interest to Creative Commons projects in other countries as well. Primarily because the Dutch regulatory framework for public sector information is derived from the European PSI directive and should thus be fairly similar to the regulatory framework in the rest of the EU countries.

This report makes a very well structured argument for the use of the least restrictive licenses and the Public Domain dedication for public sector information in the European context.

Download the full report in .pdf

PublicDomainReprints.org: Reprints of public domain books

Here is a new experiment addressing the reprints of public domain books. PublicDomainReprints.org is a free service that takes any book currently in the public domain (about 1.7 million titles) and reprints it using Lulu.com.

Those public domain books are hosted in the supported sites, such as the Internet Archive, Google Books or Universal Library. The service is simply using these sites in accordance with their terms and is intended for non-commercial use only.

Anyone can easily place a request from a supported archive, then PublicDomainReprints.org will convert the appropriate book to printable form and sends it off to Lulu.com. Largest format 8"x11", max 700 pages, soft cover only, ready in 24-48 hours (and possibly longer). The final prices are rounded up from Lulu.com cost prices to the nearest $0.99 to cover bandwidth and processing power rented from Amazon's EC2 Service.

Users have access to a PDF preview and are not obligated to buy the resulting book if they don't like the final result. Run by Yakov Shafranovich, this service does not provide any warranty and is not affiliated with «any of the archives that the digital images are being obtained from.»

Happy Public Domain Day 2008!

Today much of the world gets to celebrate Public Domain Day: the day when a whole year’s worth of copyrights (thousands, indeed millions, of creative works from the planet's collective cultural past) enter the public domain for anyone to copy or reuse as they like.

In countries that use the “life plus 50 years” minimum standard of the Berne Convention, works by authors who died in 1957 enter the public domain today. That includes writers, artists, and composers like Nikos Kazantzakis, Diego Rivera, Dorothy L. Sayers, Jean Sibelius, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
In countries that use the “life plus 70 years” term, works by authors who died in 1937 enter the public domain, including works by J. M. Barrie, Jean de Brunhoff, H. P. Lovecraft, Maurice Ravel, and Edith Wharton.
In countries like the US and Australia, which are under 20-year freezes of all or most of the public domain, it’s not quite as momentous a day, while Mexico now has a life+100 years term.

Let's celebrate the gains that the public domain has made today throughout the world. It’s our past, our cultural heritage, our public domain. Promote it, celebrate it, and use it, or we will lose it.


Read more
and browse the whole list of notable works now entering the public domain.

USA: 1.8 million pages of federal case law to become public domain

In early 2008 a large and free archive of federal case law will be made available online. The archive will be public domain and usable by anyone for any purpose.

The cases will include all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754, and they will be marked with a new Creative Commons mark [CC-Ø] that signals that there are no copyrights or other related rights attached to the content. Fastcase, Inc., the leading developer of next-generation American legal research, has agreed to provide Public.Resource.Org with 1.8 million pages of federal case law. This is a marked departure for the online legal research industry, which traditionally has charged expensive subscription fees to access this information.

According to the agreement signed in November by the two entities, this transaction represents a one-time purchase of a copy of data. “The U.S. judiciary has allowed their entire work product to be locked up behind a cash register,” said Carl Malamud, CEO of Public.Resource.Org. “Law is the operating system of our society and today's agreement means anybody can read the source for a substantial amount of case law that was previously unavailable.”

Link

Italy's Supreme Court: "Three Little Pigs" and "Snow White" enter the public domain

Italy's Supreme Court ruled that two animated features produced by the Walt Disney Company, "Three Little Pigs" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", have officially entered the Italian public domain.

With a technical and complex language, the rule (number 38721 of 27/06/2007, registered on 19/10/2007) focuses also on the excessive duration of authors' rights (pursuant to legislative decree n. 440 of 20/07/1945) and takes into account the effects of World War II in Italy. The ruling is extremely important insofar as the Corte di Cassazione does not recognise any separate right over the drawings that are used to create an animated feature, beyond the rights over the animated feature itself.

This is relevant when considering that authors' rights over drawings last for 70 years after the author's death, while those over a film - or an animated feature - is 50 years after the work has been fixed in a medium or, if the work has been published or distributed to the public in the meantime, after the first publication or public distribution (whichever comes first).

Link

Genome papers under Creative Commons licenses

Nature magazine has announced that it's going to share all its human genome papers under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.

The genomes themselves are not copyrightable and go into a public database, but the papers -- which are a vital part of the science -- may now be freely copied by any non-commercial publisher.

In particular, the new license chosen by Nature allows non-commercial publishers, however they might be defined, to reuse the pdf and html versions of the paper. Users are free to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the contribution, provided this is for non-commercial purposes, subject to the same or similar license conditions and due attribution.

Link

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