Friday, 28 August 2009

Europeana – Next Steps

Today the European Commission published a policy document, ‘Europeana – Next Steps’, and a consultation about the future of its digital library, Europeana. 4.6 million digitized books, maps, photographs, film clips and newspapers can now be accessed on Europeana – it has more than doubled in size since its launch in November 2008. Nevertheless the Commission would like to see much faster progress, setting a 2010 target of 10 million objects. Countries are contributing different amounts (nearly half of the content is from France) and different types of material (e.g. Goethe is available in three languages but not German). In order to make sure Europeana gets more content various issues are identified. Aside from the finance and governance, some key points are:

1) Where licences are created for in-copyright material, ensuring that the licences are pan-European.

2) Orphan works – ‘the Commission will prepare an impact assessment on the way to tackle the orphan work issue’.

3) The disparity between US and European public domain rules (in the US pre-1923 works are in the public domain):

‘The practical consequence is wider online access to digital books in the US than in Europe, and solutions involving rightholders and cultural institutions should be considered in order to redress this situation. These solutions could include speeding up the creation of registries for orphan and out of print works – already underway through the ARROW project – or the pragmatic use of a cut-off date that would impose a lower threshold for diligent search for works from before a certain date.’
4) Accessibility of digitised public domain material as some institutions charge for access:

‘The question is whether digitisation in itself creates new rights. Normally this would not be the case. However, the level of originality needed for the creation of copyright is not harmonised at European level, so the answer to the question may differ from one Member State to another (the originality criterion has, however, been harmonised for photographs, databases and computer software). It may also vary for different types of digitisation (for example the scanning of books is not the same as costly 3D rendering of objects).’
The Commission press release is here.


Richard McD Bridge said...

Without checking, surely the 1923 rule in the US is only absolute as respects works of US origin and works of Berne origin get Berne duration, even in the maverick USA.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia:PD says -

In the U.S., any work published before January 1, 1923 anywhere in the world is in the public domain.

Footnote: Strictly speaking, only U.S. works published before January 1, 1923 and foreign works published in compliance with U.S. formalities (registration, © notice) before that date are in the public domain in the U.S. For non-U.S. works published without compliance with U.S. formalities (i.e., without © notice), the situation is a bit more complicated:

If published before 1909, such works are in the public domain in the U.S.

If published between 1909 and 1922 (inclusive) in a language other than English, the Ninth Circuit has considered them as "unpublished works" according to Peter Hirtle and following the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case Twin Books v. Disney in 1996. The case was about the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods; the decision is heavily criticized in Nimmer on Copyright, the standard commentary on U.S. copyright law.

If published between 1909 and 1922 (inclusive) in English, they are highly likely to be PD, given that the aforementioned controversial case was only about a work published in a foreign language.

Additionally, any work first published outside of the United States without copyright notice prior to 1989, when the U.S. joined the Berne Convention, is in the public domain in the U.S. if it was in the public domain in its country of origin on the URAA date (in most cases January 1, 1996). See the section on country-specific rules for more information.