On 7 November 2013, during the closing session of the “Transmission of culture during the digital era” event, Aurélie Filippetti, the French Minister of Culture and Communication, announced a R&D partnership between her ministry and the Open Knowledge Foundation France meant to create a French public domain calculator.

The project will thus develop a tool to help establishing the legal status of cultural works, giving the cultural sector the possibility to use it as a pedagogical tool in order to better know the status of a work and to help users in realizing whether they have passed out of copyright into the public domain.

“We often say that a work has ‘fallen’ into the public domain, as though it falls into a state of disuse, abandonment or oblivion. In fact, precisely the opposite is true. When a work enters the public domain, it experiences a rebirth. And I want to show that my department recognises this. Therefore, to support our thinking in this area, we have formed a partnership with Open Knowledge Foundation France to develop a prototype of a French public domain calculator using a set of cultural metadata (in this case a selection of metadata about works from the Great War) provided by the National Library of France” said Filippetti in her speech.

During the event, there were also talks from the Rijksmuseum and the British Library about what they are doing to publish and encourage the reuse of open data and open digital copies of public domain works.

Speaking at the Mapping of Commons, Jonathan Gray, Director of Public Policies and ideas of Open Knowledge Foundation, also stated: “In any case, our aim is clear: we want to model the most crucial bits of copyright law and related rights that are relevant to making an informed estimate as to whether or not a given work is still in copyright or whether it has entered the public domain in a given country. We started off doing very basic models for this in the UK. We also worked with the late Aaron Swartz, who was then at the Internet Archive in San Francisco and interested in mapping which works are in the public domain in the US. We have gone on to work with a global network of lawyers and legal experts to map copyright law in countries around the world, producing flow diagrams to show what questions you must answer in order to establish the copyright status of a work. Europeana then took up the mantle and built on our work to produce flow diagrams for 30 European countries.”

The demonstrator of the French public domain calculator will be achieved on the basis of the cultural metadata from the National Library of France and the Media library of Architecture and Patrimony and will be presented during the first trimester of 2014.

New partnership to map the public domain in France (8.11.2013)…

Aurélie Filippetti, Minister of Culture and Communication’s speech, held during the closing ceremony of the exchange day “Transmission of culture during the digital era” and the awarding of the Digital Fall prices (only in French, 7.11.2013)…

The calculator of the French public domain (only in French, 8.11.2013)…

Public Domain Calculators for European jurisdictions