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Brussels, 18 April 2007

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Europe's Digital Library experts set to focus on copyright today

The EU's High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries - which includes, inter alia, stakeholders from the British Library, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, the Federation of European Publishers and Google - will present this afternoon an advisory report on copyright issues to the European Commission. In addition, the group will discuss today how to ensure more open access to scientific research and how to improve public-private cooperation. The work of the High Level Group is part of the European Commission's efforts to make Europe's rich cultural and scientific heritage available online. For this purpose, the group advises the Commission on issues regarding digitisation, online accessibility and digital preservation of cultural material.

"Protection of intellectual property is important to stimulate creativity and innovation in the knowledge-based economy. Solving copyright issues in an online-environment is therefore crucial if we are to make the vision of a European Digital Library a reality", said Viviane Reding, the EU's Commissioner for Information Society and Media who founded the High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries a year ago. "I will therefore look with great interest into the recommendations made by the High Level Group to see in which way the European Commission, the Member States and the relevant stakeholders could best follow them up. After the discussions so far, for me an approach based on wide-spread agreements between libraries and rightholders looks promising if they manage to make the user interests a priority."

The report on copyright to be presented by the Digital Library Experts today is expected to point to voluntary agreements between libraries and rightholders that would facilitate work on digital preservation, orphan and out of print works. In the case of orphan works, for example, where rightholders cannot be identified or located, agreed solutions could support libraries, museums and archives to better exploit the benefits of information technology to carry out their preservation and dissemination mandates. In their response to the Commission's online consultation in 2006, the British Library indicated that it spends a vast amount of time dealing with permissions, and in many instances does not even start the permissions process as the rightholders are either unidentifiable or too many to make the process effective.

The expert group also will open the debate on how best to promote and to make use of public-private cooperation and private sponsorship for the digitisation of Europe's cultural heritage.
On scientific information, the Group has worked over the past months to bring closer together the views of traditional scientific publishers and those of the science world supportive of the open access movement. As a major body funding scientific research in Europe, the European Commission intends to take direct action to experiment publishing of scientific articles resulting from Community funded research in an open repository, after an embargo period still to be defined.

European Digital Libraries is one of the flagship initiatives of Commissioner Reding’s initiative “i2010 – a European Information Society for growth and jobs”, adopted by the Commission on 1 June 2005 (see IP/05/643). On 25 August 2006, the Commission adopted a Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation (seeIP/06/1124 and MEMO/06/311) which urged EU Member States to set up large-scale digitisation facilities, so as to accelerate the process of getting Europe's cultural heritage online via the European digital library. In February 2007, the Commission adopted a Communication on "Scientific Information in the Digital Age: Access, Dissemination and Preservation" to examine and support new ways of promoting better access to scientific information online and to preserve research results digitally for future generations (see IP/07/190 and MEMO/07/57).

Further information:

The Report on Digital Preservation, Orphan Works and Out-of-Print Works, Selected Implementation Issues of the High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries will be published from 16:30 today on the Commission's Digital Libraries website at:

A list of the members of the Commission's High Level Group on Digital Libraries attending today's expert meeting is attached.

Members of the High Level Group on Digital Libraries attending the meeting with Commissioner Viviane Reding on 18 April 2007

Nikesh Arora, Vice President of European Operations, Google

Arne Bach, CEO of Seeman-Henschel, Federation of European Publishers

Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library

Claudia Dillmann, Director of the Deutsches Filminstitut

Stella Dutton, Executive Director of the British Journal of Medicine Publishing Group

Adolf Knoll, Deputy Director General of the National Library of Czech Republic

Tarja Koskinen-Olsson, Honorary President of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights' Organisations

Norbert Kroo, Vice President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, European Research Council

Elisabeth Niggemann, Director General of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

Marco Ricolfi, full Professor of Intellectual Property Rights, University of Turin

Jerry Cowhig, Chair of Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM)

Michael Mabe, CEO of STM

Peter Tindemans, Chair of the Task Force on Permanent Access to the Records of Science

Sijbolt Noorda, Council of the European University Association

Laurent Romary, Head of the Max Planck Digital Library

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