Libraries address digital archive copyright restrictions

The EU’s High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries, which includes representatives of the British Library, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, the Federation of European Publishers and Google, will today present its advisory report on copyright issues to the European Commission.

Libraries address digital archive copyright restrictions

The group advises the Commission on issues regarding digitisation, online accessibility and digital preservation of cultural material.

The report is expected to suggest that voluntary agreements between libraries and rightsholders are the best way to facilitate work on digital preservation, orphan and out-of-print works. In the case of orphan works, where rightsholders cannot be identified or located, it is expected to recommend ways of permitting museums and archives to better exploit information technology to preserve these materials.

In their response to the Commission’s online consultation in 2006, the British Library indicated that it spends a vast amount of time dealing with permissions, and in many instances does not even start the permissions process as the rightholders are either unidentifiable or too many to make the process effective.

‘Protection of intellectual property is important to stimulate creativity and innovation in the knowledge-based economy,’ said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Commissioner for Information Society and Media who founded the High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries a year ago. Solving copyright issues in an online-environment is therefore crucial if we are to make the vision of a European Digital Library a reality.’

‘I will therefore look with great interest into the recommendations made by the High Level Group to see in which way the European Commission, the Member States and the relevant stakeholders could best follow them up. After the discussions so far, for me an approach based on wide-spread agreements between libraries and rightholders looks promising if they manage to make the user interests a priority.’

The expert group also discuss how best to promote and to make use of public-private co-operation and private sponsorship for the digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage and to ensure more open access to scientific research.

The Commission, which is itself a a major source of scientific research funding in Europe, has already said that intends to take direct action to experiment with the publishing of scientific articles resulting from Community-funded research in an open repository, after an embargo period still to be defined.

European Digital Libraries is one of the chief initiatives of Reding’s ‘i2010 – a European Information Society for growth and jobs’ initiative, which was adopted by the Commission in 2005.

Last year the Commission adopted a Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation which urged EU member states to set up large-scale digitisation facilities, so as to accelerate the process of getting Europe’s cultural heritage online.

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