Brussels, 10 January 2011
Digital Agenda: "Comité des Sages" calls for a "New Renaissance" by bringing Europe's cultural heritage online
The report of the Comité des Sages (high-level reflection group) on Digitisation of Europe's cultural heritage was delivered today to Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, and Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner responsible for Education and Culture. The report urges EU Member States to step up their efforts to put online the collections held in all their libraries, archives and museums. It stresses the benefits of making Europe's culture and knowledge more easily accessible. It also points to the potential economic benefits of digitisation, including through public-private partnerships, for the development of innovative services in sectors like tourism, research and education. The report endorses the Digital Agenda's objective of strengthening Europe's digital library Europeana and suggests solutions for making works covered by copyright available online. The Comité des Sages on Digitisation comprises Maurice Lévy, Elisabeth Niggemann and Jacques de Decker (see IP/10/456). The report's recommendations 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.
Neelie Kroes said: "I sincerely thank the three "sages" for their constructive suggestions on how we can trigger a "Digital Renaissance" in Europe. Bringing our 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: "The Group has balanced the interests of creators with the imperatives of a changing environment in the digital era. We need 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 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.
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).
Comité des Sages' recommendations: link here: