Online-Consultation on Digitization

The Communication ‘i2010: digital libraries’ and the accompanying staff working paper have explored the consequences of the Internet environment for the accessibility and usability of Europe’s intellectual record. The questions below address a set of issues identified in the Communication and the staff working paper, which require further consideration and discussion. The questions have to be read in conjunction with the relevant parts of the main documents.


Digitisation and online accessibility

1) What additional measures could be taken at national and European level to encourage digitisation and online accessibility of material in all European languages?

2) What measures could be taken to promote private investments and new business-models such as public-private partnerships for digitising and making historical collections accessible?

3) What measures of a legislative, technical, organisational or other nature, could facilitate the digitisation and subsequent accessibility of copyrighted material, while respecting the legitimate interests of authors?

4) Is the issue of orphan material economically important and relevant in practice? If yes, what technical, organisational and legal mechanisms could be used to facilitate wider use of this material?

5) How could public domain material and other material available for general use (voluntary sharing) be made more transparent and widely known in order to facilitate its online availability for subsequent use?

Preservation of digital content

6) What priority measures – in particular of an organisational and legal nature-– should be taken at national and European level to optimise the preservation of digital content with the limited resources available?

7) Is there a risk that national legal deposit schemes lead to a multiplication of requirements on internationally active companies? Would European legislation help avoiding this?

8) How could research contribute to progress on the preservation front? Which axes of work should be addressed in priority by the forthcoming Specific Research Programmes as part of the 7th Framework Programme?

All interested individuals and organisations – from the private and from the public sector – are encouraged to provide their views on some or all of these questions. Replies and comments should be sent to the following address before 20 January 2006:
European Commission
Attn. Mr. Hernández-Ros,
Head of Unit DG INFSO E4, Information Market
Bâtiment EUROFORUM, Office 1174
Rue Alcide de Gasperi
L-2920 Luxembourg
E-mail address:

Organisations and persons contributing to the consultation will get an acknowledgment of receipt of their contribution.

Here are my opinions to the questions above.

1) Let me say first that I support „Open Access“ (OA) and not „Toll Access“ to cultural heritage items. All digitized materials should be free of cost and without permission barriers available in the internet.

States and funding agencies should pay that all citizens with internet access can enjoy for free the treasure of knowledge. Public funded scholarly research results should be OA.

Libraries should not digitize historical items without cooperation with the potential users and especially the scholars in the relevant thematic field.

There should be more support for and more cooperation with grassroot digitization made by NGO projects like Project Gutenberg or Wikisource (sister project of Wikipedia).

See for a recent initiative of distributed scanning

National and other libraries should cooperative with initiatives like the Open Content Alliance and donate scanned Public Domain books to them.

3) We need a copyright legislation which is more friendly to the legitimate interest of the public and which is really supporting the Public Domain as a main source of creativity.

The legitimate interests of authors are not the interests of copyright holder who will make money by monopolizing knowlegde.

We need a more flexible „fair use“ legislation which would e.g. allow to make orphan works accessible on non-commercial websites.

4) The importance of orphan material is highly underestimated. In libraries and archives is a mass of unpublished material (manuscripts, photographs …) one does’nt know the rights holder. While there is in the USA a debate on orphan works there is no such discussion in the EU as far as I know.

Because there is no efficient way for copyright clearing of orphan works they cannot used in an appropriate manner for enriching knowledge and research.

5) There are some ways to make digitized material more widely known.

Library should have the duty (and the money) to cataloge digitized items worldwide in a cooperative manner according to international standards like Dublin Core or the Open Archives Initiative (OAI).

There should be freely accessible meta-data from each digitized single book or other items (including table of contents).

There should be more cooperation with NGO initiatives (see above ad 1) who can e.g. contribute meta-data.

There should be more support for free full text search engines and OAI harvester beside of the large commercial search engines.

7) I do not see such a risk. A company which is a global player can deposit in any national library worldwide without any disprofit. No private company can ensure long-term preservation which is a legitimate public office. Maybe it would be a good idea to invent „knowledge taxes“ for profit making companies as a compensation for the public costs for making the knowledge available e.g. in libraries and for ensuring long-term preservation.