The European Commission encourages the digitisation of culture

By EDRi · November 2, 2011

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Deutsch: [Europäische Kommission fördert Digitalisierung des Kulturerbes |]

An EC Recommendation issued on 28 October 2011 is urging Member States to
intensify their efforts and involve the private sector to help in digitising
cultural material in order to improve the exposure and stocks of Europe’s
digital library Europeana.

The Recommendation, which updates a 2006 version, has taken into
consideration the Member States’ progress reports from 2008 and 2010 and
assigns a precise target, establishing a minimum content contribution for
each state so as to reach 30 million objects introduced in Europeana by
2015, as compared to the 19 million available today. Among the items
included, the recommendation has in view Europe’s masterpieces no longer
protected by copyright and all material digitised with public funding.

Adopting measures to support cultural and creative industries and ensuring a
sustainable model to finance Europeana are among the goals of the Digital
Agenda for Europe.

The Recommendation invites Member States to set up solid investment plans
and create partnerships with private entities to share digitisation costs
and provides key principles for fair and balanced partnerships.
It also recommends getting more out-of-commerce material online, by
“creating the legal framework conditions enabling large-scale digitisation
and cross-border accessibility of out-of-commerce works.”

States should reinforce their strategies and adapt their legislation in
order to provide for a long-term preservation of the digital material. One
method could be to eliminate the technical protection measures that impede
the librarians to preserve the works.

Private partners are needed as, according to the Commission’s estimation,
the cost for the digitisation of the collections of Europe’s museums,
archives and libraries, is about 100 billion Euro.

Private investments have already been done for digitisation. In 2010, Google
Inc. worked with Belgium Ghent University to scan out-of-copyright books,
resulting in 100 000 volumes available now on Europeana. The project was
part of Google Books, through which, over one million public-domain books
were made available online.

The British Film Institute (BFI) is also calling for donations to raise 2
million pounds in order to restore and preserve nine early silent films by
director Alfred Hitchcock.

On digitisation, there is “extreme urgency (given) the current shifts in
technology. Some European countries have stopped distributing film prints,
which has had a very rapid effect with the imminent disappearance of
suppliers and skills relating to film,” said Brian Robinson, communications
manager, Archive and Heritage at the BFI.

The commission is also in the process of overhauling copyright rules,
including “orphan works” (cases where the creator or rights holder cannot be

Digital Agenda: encouraging digitisation of EU culture to help boost growth

EU Calls for Digitization of Cultural Heritage (28.10.2011)

Europeana: Commission sets precise targets to states (28.10.2011)