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Monday, January 10, 2011

Digital Agenda: an easier access to European cultural heritage

Culture - Media, Information, Education - Training, Industry, Citizenship,Local and Regional authorities,Schools,Administrations States,Universities,

News On January 10th, 2011, the Comité des Sages, a reflection group on the digitization of European cultural heritage, has delivered its report to Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, and Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner responsible for Education and Culture. This Committee, composed of Maurice Levy, Elisabeth Niggemann and Jacques de Decker has made recommendations that are part of the Digital Agenda for Europe, aiming to support cultural institutions in their transition to the digital age. Thus, the report stresses the importance of public-private partnership to create new services in sectors like tourism, research and education. In addition, the Comité urges member States to put online the collections held in all their libraries, archives and museums for the consolidation of the Europe's digital library Europeana.

Neelie Kroes thanked the three "sages" for their constructive suggestions on how we can trigger a "Digital Renaissance" in Europe. Bringing European museums' and libraries' collections online not only shows Europe's rich history and culture but can also usher in new benefits for education, for innovation and for generating new economic activities. It will put high quality content on the net for many generations. Androulla Vassiliou added that the Group has balanced the interests of creators with the imperatives of a changing environment in the digital era. The Commission needs to find ways and means to do so in all the areas where the cultural and creative industries are confronted with the challenges of moving into the digital age. Culture and heritage in the digital era represent a set of opportunities for European economies and societies. The report, called "The New Renaissance", key conclusions and recommendations are: * The Europeana portal should become the central reference point for Europe's online cultural heritage. Member States must ensure that all material digitised with public funding is available on the site, and bring all their public domain masterpieces into Europeana by 2016. Cultural institutions, the European Commission and Member States should actively and widely promote Europeana. * Works that are covered by copyright, but are no longer distributed commercially, need to be brought online. It is primarily the role of rights-holders to digitise these works and exploit them. But, if rights holders do not do so, cultural institutions must have a window of opportunity to digitise material and make it available to the public, for which right holders should be remunerated. * EU rules for orphan works (whose rights holders cannot be identified) need to be adopted as soon as possible. The Report defines eight fundamental conditions for any solution. * Member States need to considerably increase their funding for digitisation in order to generate jobs and growth in the future. The funds needed to build 100 km of roads would pay for the digitisation of 16% of all available books in EU libraries, or the digitisation of every piece of audio content in EU Member States' cultural institutions. * Public-private partnerships for digitisation must be encouraged. They must be transparent, non-exclusive and equitable for all partners, and must result in cross-border access to the digitised material for all. Preferential use of the digitised material granted to the private partner should not exceed seven years. * To guarantee the preservation of collections in their digital format, a second copy of this cultural material should be archived at Europeana. In addition, a system should be developed so that any cultural material that currently needs to be deposited in several countries would only be deposited once. The recommendations of the 'Comité des sages' will feed into the Commission's broader strategy, under the Digital Agenda for Europe to help cultural institutions make the transition towards the digital age and to search for new and effective business models that accelerate digitisation while allowing fair remuneration for rights holders where necessary (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). The recommendations will also be useful for the Commission's plan to develop a sustainable funding model for Europeana by 2012. Today europeana.eu already offers access to more than 15 million digitised books, maps, photographs, film clips, paintings and musical extracts, but this is only a fraction of works held by Europe's cultural institutions (see IP/10/1524). Most digitised materials are older works in the public domain, to avoid potential litigation for works covered by copyright. Background The "Comité des sages" comprised Maurice Lévy (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of advertising and communications company Publicis), Elisabeth Niggemann (Director-General of the German National Library and chair of the Europeana Foundation) and Jacques De Decker (author and Permanent Secretary of Belgium's Royal Academy of French language and literature).

Source :  European Commission website - Europe's Information Society


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