The Comité des Sages is a reflection group focused on bringing Europe’s cultural heritage online. They have made a number of recommendations in their report “The New Renaissance” to the European Union (EU) Member States to ramp up their efforts to make the collections held in all their libraries archives and museums available online.

The recommendation to all Member States is to ensure that all publically funded digitized material is made available on their site, bringing all public domain masterpieces into Europeana.

To date, there are more than 15 million digitized images, texts, sounds and videos from 1,500 institutions on the Europeana web site. These treasures include Sir Isaac Newton’s book about the “Laws of Motion” and the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.

The main conclusions of  ”The New Renaissance” report delivered to Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda and Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner responsible for Education are as follows:

The Europeana portal which has now gone far beyond expectations, should become the central reference point for Europe’s online cultural heritage. Member States must ensure that all material digitised with public funding is available on the site, and bring all their public domain masterpieces into Europeana by 2016. Cultural institutions, the European Commission and Member States should actively and widely promote Europeana.

Works that are covered by copyright, but are no longer distributed commercially, need to be brought online. It is primarily the role of rights-holders to digitise these works and exploit them. But, if rights holders do not do so, cultural institutions must have a window of opportunity to digitise material and make it available to the public, for which right holders should be remunerated.

EU rules for orphan works (whose rights holders cannot be identified) need to be adopted as soon as possible. The Report defines eight fundamental conditions for any solution.

Member States need to considerably increase their funding for digitisation in order to generate jobs and growth in the future. The funds needed to build 100 km of roads would pay for the digitisation of 16% of all available books in EU libraries, or the digitisation of every piece of audio content in EU Member States’ cultural institutions.

Public-private partnerships for digitisation must be encouraged. They must be transparent, non-exclusive and equitable for all partners, and must result in cross-border access to the digitised material for all. Preferential use of the digitised material granted to the private partner should not exceed seven years.

To guarantee the preservation of collections in their digital format, a second copy of this cultural material should be archived at Europeana. In addition, a system should be developed so that any cultural material that currently needs to be deposited in several countries would only be deposited once.

In addition to the informational links in the post, which include the Europina web site and a link to the U.S. Department of State where you can see a list of countries in the EU you can also click on Euroalert.net to see the complete article on “The New Renaissance”.

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