The Comité des Sages calls for a “New Renaissance” by bringing Europe’s cultural heritage online

Press release by Europeana

The report of the Comité des Sages (high-level reflection group) on Digitisation of Europe’s cultural heritage was delivered to Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, and Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner responsible for Education and Culture.

Among its top recommendations are that Europeana 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.

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.”

Called “The New Renaissance”, the Report’s conclusions and recommendations also include:

  • 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.

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 full report can be accessed here.  

Read about the major developments of EUscreen in the annual report

By Wietske van den Heuvel

EUscreen’s annual report is now published online. The report describes the major developments during the first year of the project. With the first release of the EUscreen coming up soon, the report provides valuable insights in the choices that are made and the effort that is put into the creation of the first version of such a portal. Some highlights from the report:

  • The milestones for the first year have been reached. These are milestone 1, project establishment and milestone 2, definition of the user requirements and the metadata schema.
  • A detailed description of the user groups, their needs and user requirements.
  • An overview of the architecture of the portal and a preview of the frontend and the backend.
  • A definition of the content selection guidelines and the metadata schema.
  • A summary of activities that have been undertaken.

Read the full report.

Economies of the Commons 2: Paying the Costs of Making Things Free

Press release

Amsterdam & Hilversum
November 11 – 13, 2010

Economies of the Commons 2 is a critical examination of the economics of on-line public domain and open access resources of information, knowledge, and media (the ‘digital commons’). The past 10 years have seen the rise of a variety of such open content resources attracting millions of users, sometimes on a daily basis. The impact of projects such as Wikipedia, Images of the Future, and Europeana testify to the vibrancy of the new digital public domain. No longer left to the exclusive domains of digital ‘insiders’, open content resources are rapidly becoming widely used and highly popular.

While protagonists of open content praise its low-cost accessibility and collaborative structures, critics claim it undermines the established “gate keeping” functions of authors, the academy, and professional institutions while lacking a reliable business model of its own. Economies of the Commons 2 provides a timely and crucial analysis of sustainable economic models that can promote and safeguard the online public domain. We want to find out what the new hybrid solutions are for archiving, access and reuse of on-line content that can both create viable markets and serve the public interest in a competitive global 21st century information economy.

Economies of the Commons 2 consists of an international seminar on Open Video hosted by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision on November 11 in Hilversum, a two day international conference and two public evening programs on November 12 and 13 at De Balie, centre for culture and politics in Amsterdam. The event builds upon the successful Economies of the Commons conference organised in April 2008.

Confirmed speakers include:
Charlotte Hess (Syracuse University – Keynote), Ben Moskowitz (Open Video Alliance), Simona Levi (Free Culture Forum), Bas Savenije (KB National library of the Netherlands), Yann Moulier Boutang (Multitudes), Peter B. Kaufman (Intelligent Television), Harry Verwayen (Europeana), James Boyle (Duke University), Jeff Ubois (DTN), Sandra Fauconnier (NIMK), Dymitri Kleiner (Telekommunisten), Nathaniel Tkacz (University of Melbourne), a.o.

Organisers:
Images for the Future Consortium / Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision / De Balie / Institute of Network Cultures University of Amsterdam, Department of New Media

New Media in a digital world: Tool or Threat for Learning?

The Media & Learning Conference taking place in Brussels on 25 and 26 November 2010 addresses how new media can contribute to improve learning. Media literacy and digital fluency are amongst the most important skills young people can learn in order to find, use and create accurate information to become the creative citizens of a future society. But how can educators be sure that learners are learning better thanks to media?

During this conference practitioners, experts and researchers will discuss how learners handle video and audio in a meaningful and thoughtful manner to support their learning, how media repositories complement existing teaching and learning materials effectively, how young people learn by creating their own media and how ICT can enhance the teaching and learning process.

The programme for the Media & Learning: towards the era of digital fluency Conference 25-26 November 2010 Brussels is now finalised and available online. Johan Oomen will do a presentation about EUscreen on Thursday, 25 November in the session about Re-using existing media resources for education and training.

Pascal Smet, Flemish Minister for Education, Youth, Equal Opportunities and Brussels Affairs will open the conference by introducing the three main discussion topics: media literacy, re-use of existing media and the value of content created by learners and teachers. Speakers include Paul Bottelberghs, writer and media innovator; Pelle Snickars, co-editor of “The YouTube Reader”; Helen Keegan, educational social media innovator and practitioner; Francesc Pedró, lead researcher with the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, Rowan Simms from iTunes U and Paul Ashton, educational broadcaster and commissioning editor of Teachers TV, UK.

The conference programme includes discussions and presentations about existing media resource banks like those provided by AthenaWeb, lesite.tv and EduHi as well as practical schemes aimed at increasing teachers and trainers skills in creating and publishing their own media-based resources. Policy and practice come together in online and offline discussions on topics like how best to teach media literacy and what resources are available to enhance understanding of the complexities of copyright in the sector. Best practices from the US, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Italy and the UK will highlight how educators are keeping up with student expectations and experience. Games and media-rich materials like Poverty is not a Game (PING) and The Climate Mystery will be demonstrated and discussed. Teachers from the UK, Italy, Belgium and Denmark will show how they use media to make teaching and learning more exciting and more effective for teachers and learners.

The Media & Learning Conference will be supported by an online discussion that starts one month before the actual Conference and that will facilitate networking and exchange of ideas before, during and after the conference within the Media & Learning community of practice.

On Thursday 25th November alongside the Media & Learning Conference, the MEDEA Awards Ceremony takes place where the winners of this year’s awards will be announced.

More information from the conference website.

Advise the European Commission about digitalisation of and access to cultural heritage!

The Reflection Group has been asked to advise the European Commission about how to accelerate the process of digitalisation and access of cultural heritage. The Reflection Group is an independent group of 12 members, which started in 2008 and advises the European Union in various longer term matters. For this particular subject on cultural heritage, the group has set up a questionnaire to consult the field and gather there expertise.

“This consultation is launched by the Comité to feed its reflection and subsequent recommendations. As the cultural sector is undergoing a revolutionary transition worldwide, Europe is looking for innovative solutions to reap the social and economic benefits of the technological advances. The Comité des Sages is therefore seeking your views on key issues of this process, including on the sources of funding for digitisation, the exploitation models of content digitised with public funding or on conditions governing public-private partnerships for digitisation. You are invited to respond to the consultation by 30 September 2010. The Comité des Sages will analyse the responses and a follow-up hearing is scheduled to take place in Brussels on 28 October 2010.”
(IPM website )

The questionnaire can be found here

Feature on EUscreen in D-Lib Magazine

By Wietske van den Heuvel

D-Lib Magazine has included a feature about EUscreen in it’s May/June issue. D-Lib is an online journal “with a focus on digital library research and development, including new technologies, applications, and contextual social and economic issues. D-Lib Magazine appeals to a broad technical and professional audience. The primary goal of the magazine is timely and efficient information exchange for the digital library community to help digital libraries be a broad interdisciplinary field, and not a set of specialties that know little of each other.” (D-Lib website)

The article about EUscreen can be found in the “In Brief” section. It describes the main project goals in general, and the connection to Europeana, the development of user requirements and software in more detail. The article can be found here.

Funded by: Connected to: