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EU appoints 'reflection group' to put euro culture online

A Frenchman, a German and a Belgian walk into a library...

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The European Commission has appointed a Frenchman, a Belgian and a German to "reflect" on how best to drag Europe's cultural heritage online.

The appointment of Publicis CEO Maurive Lecy, German national library boss Elisabeth Niggemann and writer Jacques de Drecker is the EU's latest move in its lightning campaign to keep Europe's cultural patrimony from ending up misfiled on a server in Mountain View.

The three "personalities" have been fingered as as "reflection group" tasked "to come up with recommendations on how best to speed up the digitisation, online accessibility and preservation of cultural works across Europe".

The idea of the group was floated a mere five months ago by the French Minister of Culture and Communication at the Education, Youth and Culture Council.

Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said: "We expect this Reflection Group to come up with innovative solutions to ensure that Europe's rich cultural heritage is made accessible to all on the internet – lack of money or rigid laws are no excuse: it is a duty of our time, we must do it for our generation and for future ones."

Kroes was previously competition commissioner, but ensuring that the rich cultural outpourings of Belgium and the other members of the EU find a suitable home online is clearly too important to be left to the vagaries of the market alone

The group has been invited to provide a set of recommendations for the digitisation, online accessibility and preservation of Europe's cultural heritage.

So, according to the EU, "It will look at how to fund digitisation, including the possibilities and conditions for public-private partnerships.

"It will also address copyright issues and licensing practices to facilitate the digitisation of copyrighted material – in particular out-of-print works and the so-called orphan works, which represent a large part of Europe's collections."

While attempts to digitise Europe's national collections have been patchy to date, the EU points towards the Europeana.eu portal, which it says "already offers access to over 7 million digitised books, maps, photographs, film clips, paintings and musical extracts".

The EU publications office famously served up two million pages of historic Euro docs last year, including the riveting "address delivered by Mr Jean Monnet, President of the High Authority before the Common Assembly at the first session of September 1952" and "the General Report on the activities of the Community in French from 1953". ®

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