Feeds

EU to follow Google's lead with online library

Our heritage, but whose net?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Google's internet library project will face competition from Yahoo!, but also from a less predictable rival: the European Commission announced its own plan on Friday. And it has an advantage: if copyright laws interfere with its plans it can change the laws.

The Commission wants to put Europe’s cultural heritage on the internet by turning books, photos, records and films into a massive digital library. It has launched a consultation that invites suggestions for legislative measures that could facilitate the digitisation and subsequent accessibility of copyright material while respecting the legitimate interests of authors.

“Without a collective memory, we are nothing, and can achieve nothing. It defines our identity and we use it continuously for education, work and leisure,” said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “The internet is the most powerful new tool we have had for storing and sharing information since the Gutenberg press, so let’s use it to make the material in Europe’s libraries and archives accessible to all.”

Google's library project takes the book collections of several research libraries – about 15 million books – and makes this content searchable online. According to the Commission, Google's initiative "triggered a reflection on how to deal with our European cultural heritage in the digital age."

Google has faced problems: some copyright holders whose books featured in the libraries were upset and are currently suing the search company. The Commission hopes to avoid such problems by addressing copyright issues upfront. It does not depend on legal change in order to succeed; it can also work within today's laws. Its only driver for adjusting the laws is to increase the range of material on offer. Without change, the Commission can still stock works in which copyrights have expired or where permission is granted by copyright holders.

There are already several Member State-based digital library initiatives, including the British Library backed “Collect Britain” project. But these are fragmented and could result in duplicate work and systems that are mutually incompatible, according to the Commission. It therefore proposes that Member States and major cultural institutions join EU efforts to make digital libraries a reality throughout Europe.

The scale of the project is ambitious: there are 2.5 billion books and bound periodicals in European libraries and millions of hours of film and video in broadcasting archives.

Current copyright restrictions will limit the collection to works from the early 1900s or before, depending on the year of death of the author, and those works for which agreement has been obtained.

Even if works are out of copyright, the Commission notes that the situation is not always straightforward. There may be rights attached to the different editions of a work that is itself no longer protected by copyright, for example rights to introductions, covers and typography. The Commission notes in its Communication to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, "An online library offering works beyond public domain material is not possible without a substantial change in the copyright legislation, or agreements, on a case by case basis, with the rightholders." Identifying the rightholders may also be difficult.

Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.