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Communia condemns the privatisation of the Public Domain by the BnF

Primavera De Filippi - January 21, 2013 in Bibliographic, COMMUNIA, OKF France, Public Domain

Last week the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) concluded two new agreements with private companies to digitze over 70.000 old books, 200.000 sound recordings and other documents belonging (either partially or as a whole) to the public domain. While these public private partnerships enable the digitization of these works they also contain 10-year exclusive agreements allowing the private companies carrying out the digitization to commercialize the digitized documents. During this period only a limited number of these works may be offered online by the BnF.

Together with La Quadrature du Net, Framasoft, SavoirsCom1 and the Open Knowledge Foundation France, COMMUNIA has issued a statement (in french) to express our profound disagreement with the terms of these partnerships that restrict digital access to an important part of Europe’s cultural heritage. The agreements that the BnF has entered into, effectively take the works being digitized out of the public domain for the next 10 years.

The value of the public domain lies in the free dissemination of knowledge and the ability for everyone to access and create new works based on previous works. Yet, instead of taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization, the exclusivity of these agreements will force public bodies, such as research institutions or university libraries, to purchase digital content that belongs to the common cultural heritage.

As such, these partnerships constitute a commodification of the public domain by contractual means. COMMUNIA, of which the OKFN is a partner, has been critical of such arrangements from the start (see their Public Domain Manifesto) and Policy Reccomendations 4 & 5. More interestingly these agreements are also in direct contradiction with the Public Domain Charter published by the Europeana Foundation in 2011. In this context it is interesting to note that the director of Bibliothèque nationale de France currently serves as the chairman of the Europeana Foundation’s Executive Board.

COMMUNIA statement on open access to EU funded Horizon 2020 research

Theodora Middleton - November 22, 2012 in COMMUNIA, Open Access, Policy, Public Domain, WG EU Open Data

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s proposed new programme for research and innovation, which would run from 2014 to 2020. The programme would create an “Innovation Union” with a budget of €80million, bringing together current research and innovation funding available through a number of sources. On 28th November MEPs are set to vote on the proposals, which involve 6 different pieces of legislation.

It is clear that the EC’s aim of “breaking down barriers to create a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation” can only be met through bold steps towards open access.

The COMMUNIA Association (of which the OKFN is a member) has published a policy paper entitled “Position on EC Horizon 2020 Open Access policy” in the run-up to this month’s vote, which will be circulated among MEPs. The paper is based around two of the policy recommendations produced by members of the network. The core principles are that:

  • All publicly funded research outputs and educational resources must be made available as open access materials (aligned with the Budapest Open Access Initiative).
  • Notwithstanding the need to support OA policies, access to copyright protected material for education and research purposes must be improved by strengthening existing exceptions and limitations to copyright, and broadening these exceptions to cover uses outside of formal educational and research institutions.

Based on this, COMMUNIA recommends a clear tripartite Open Access policy to be included in the Horizon 2020 plans:

  • An Open Access mandate for all publicly funded research, in line with the BOAI. This would require the use of CC-BY, CC0 or similar licensing, and should be backed up by sanctions.
  • The elimination of sui generis rights on databases, which have not demonstrated any value since their 1996 introduction.
  • Prohibition on publishing agreements which prevent authors from archiving their research in OA repositories, or ban authors bound by an institutional OA mandate.

We hope that MEPs will take note of these recommendations when it comes to voting on the proposals next week. The full policy paper is available as a PDF, and on the Communia website.

If you’re interested in discussing open access policy at the Open Knowledge Foundation, you can join our open-access mailing list.

Open Book Publishers releases “The Digital Public Domain”

Theodora Middleton - April 24, 2012 in COMMUNIA, External, Open Access, Public Domain, WG Humanities, WG Public Domain

openbookpublishers
Open Book Publishers is the first UK academic publisher to have made all its books freely available
online, publishing peer-reviewed research in subjects across the Humanities and Social Sciences. They are “committed to the idea that high quality scholarship should be available to readers everywhere regardless of their income or access to university libraries”.

CommuniaCover
This week sees their most recent release hit the virtual shelves, The Digital Public Domain: Foundations for an Open Culture, edited by Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, co-founder and chair of Communia, and Juan Carlos De Martin. From the Press Release:

This book brings together essays by
academics, librarians, entrepreneurs, activists
and policy makers, who were all part of the
EU-funded Communia project. Together the
authors argue that the Public Domain — that
is, the informational works owned by all of us,
be that literature, music, the output of
scientific research, educational material or
public sector information — is fundamental to
a healthy society.


The essays range from more theoretical papers
on the history of copyright and the Public
Domain, to practical examples and case
studies of recent projects that have engaged
with the principles of Open Access and
Creative Commons licensing. The book is
essential reading for anyone interested in the
current debate about copyright and the
Internet. It opens up discussion and offers
practical solutions to the difficult question of
the regulation of culture at the digital age.

Open Book Publishers argue that “One of the fundamental aims of academia is to spark thought and debate in both the academic and wider community. Open Access helps spread educational materials to everyone, globally, not just to those who can afford it. A large proportion of scholarly research is publicly funded, so it seems only reasonable that its results be made available as widely as possible.”

The free PDF edition of this title was made
possible by generous funding received from
the European Union (eContentplus framework
project ECP-2006-PSI-610001). Get your copy here, and have a browse of their other titles at www.openbookpublishers.com.

Public Domain Day: January 1st 2012

Theodora Middleton - December 13, 2011 in COMMUNIA, Events, External, Public Domain, Public Domain Works, WG Public Domain

The following guest post is by Juan Carlos de Martin, from the the Politecnico of Torino, Italy, one of the organisers of the annual Public Domain Day of which the OKF is a proud supporter.

Every January a growing number of people throughout the world gather
to celebrate the new year. But not for the usual reasons. They meet
because every January 1st the works of authors who died decades
before – typically, seventy years before – enter the public domain,
that is, their copyright protection expires.

Why a celebration for
such an apparently technical reason? Because as the new year starts, the
works of those selected authors have finally reached the state to
which all culture is headed since the earliest times. I am talking of
the state that automatically allows any human being to sing, play,
translate, summarize, adapt what other human beings have thought
before them. Wish to produce a big print edition of your favorite
poetry? Now you can. Fancy translating into Sicilian dialect a play
you love? Now you can. Possessed by the desire to illustrate, manga
style, the ideas of your preferred political scientist? Now you can.
Longing to publish a more correct version of a score riddled with
typos that the publisher never cared to correct? Now you can.

In principle, all the above activities are perfectly possible even
before the expiration of copyright. On condition, however, that one
asks for permission the copyright owner (assuming that they can be
located: let’s ignore here the huge problem of the so-called “orphan
works”) and pays whatever is requested. Noting that very often the
copyright owner is not the author (or his/her descendants), but a
for-profit publishing house.

Consequently, many activities do not take place because either the
copyright owner does not like the idea (no manga, for instance), or
because the wannabe new author cannot afford to pay what is requested
by the copyright owner.

Such restrictions, introduced, in their modern form, about three
centuries ago to provide – for the common good – incentives to
authors, now last an unprecedented seventy years (in Europe and in
many other countries) after the death of the authors.

A shockingly long time, which an increasing number of scholars, NGO’s
and citizens are asking to reduce. To know more about the current
debate on copyright reform and the role of the public domain, see for
instance the Public Domain Manifesto
and the brand new, Brussels-based COMMUNIA association for the digital
public domain
, or check out the OKF’s Working Group on the Public Domain.

But as we work towards copyright reform, every January people who care
about the public domain get together and welcome the works of a new
batch of authors. In recent years, public domain day celebrations have
taken place in cities throughout the world, from Zurich to Warsaw,
from Torino to Haifa, from Rome to Berlin. The volunteer-staffed
website http://publicdomainday.org provides an information hub for
such celebrations.

The celebrations typically take place in libraries, universities or
cafés. People read – or sometimes perform – the work of the new
authors. It is often a moving experience, as great men and women from
the time of our grand (and great-grand) fathers come back to life
under our affectionate gaze.

During the month of January 2012 people will gather again.
Celebrations have already been announced in, among other places,
Warsaw, Zurich, Torino and Rome. We hope that others will follow the
example. Welcoming the works of some of our great writers, musicians,
painters, poets, journalists, scholars is a most gratifying way to
start the new year and also a great way to enhance the knowledge of
our common cultural roots.

If you’re interested in organising an event in your area, you can join the pd-discuss list.

How can we promote the public domain?

Jonathan Gray - February 7, 2011 in Bibliographic, COMMUNIA, Free Culture, Public Domain, Public Domain Works, WG Public Domain, Working Groups

The following post is from Jonathan Gray, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

A few weeks back we ran a small workshop in Berlin for Public Domain Day 2011. It was attended by a mix of artists, scholars, legal experts, technologists, and passers by.

We started out with a general conversation in which the following kinds of questions were asked:

  • What is the public domain?
  • How do I know whether or not a given work is in the public domain?
  • I’m often interested in incorporating existing works into new designs, how can I know what I am (and what I’m not) allowed to reuse?
  • Where can I find work X, which I believe to be in the public domain?
  • Where can I find archives of video material which has entered the public domain?

We then brainstormed about the kinds of things that people were keen to do on the day, which included talking and learning more about laws and policies related to the public domain, going through archives to look for interesting works which just entered the public domain in 2011, and making things using public domain works.

There was strong demand for reviewing and discussing legal and policy issues related to the public domain first, so we ran through what the public domain is, how one can determine the copyright status of a work, and work on the Public Domain Calculators.

We soon decided that there was need for a clearer page with information along these lines, so we set up the following two sites:

We’re going to be continuing to improve this site over the next few weeks (it will be an ongoing work in progress), so if you have any suggestions for things to add, please let us know in the comments below, or sign up to our pd-discuss list and say hello!

More generally over the coming months we’re going to be spending more time on the Public Domain Calculators, on PublicDomainWorks.net , and will be starting to have regular online meetings for people interested in the public domain. We’d also like to help to provide a more central source of information about different (open!) online sources of works which have entered the public domain. And we’re working on exposing open bibliographic metadata so we can combine this with the calculators to get a better idea of what is in the public domain in different countries.

What do you think that the OKF can do to help to promote the public domain or make it easier to find and reuse public domain works? Is there anything that you think would be really useful but that hasn’t yet been done?

Cultural Heritage rights in the age of digital copyright

Stefano Costa - December 21, 2010 in COMMUNIA, Events, Public Domain, WG Archaeology, WG Cultural Heritage, Workshop

The following guest post is from Stefano Costa at the University of Siena. Stefano is Founder of the IOSA initiative and Coordinator of the Open Knowledge Foundation‘s Working Group on Open Data in Archaeology.

On December, 10th the COMMUNIA WG3 gathered in Istanbul for the final workshop, with the aim of producing a set of recommendations about cultural heritage and the public domain.

I am not a lawyer, so I took a chance to learn about the marked differences between access rights and property rights. More than that, it became soon clear that Cultural Heritage rights (CHR) only exist in certain EU member states (e.g. Italy, Greece) while in others there are no such rights.

This poses a first set of basic problems: a Finn tourist taking a photograph of the Parthenon in Athens might actually be violating Greek CHR, especially if she’s going to publish the resulting image on the Web. Same would happen in Italy, not just inside museums but also for public buildings and panoramas. On the other hand, Portugal only listed 5 buildings that cannot be freely photographed. Apparently Finland poses no restrictions on photographing of CH, be it historical buildings or artistic creations.

CH laws were mostly conceived in a pre-digital age and even those that got recently revamped (like the Italian case) apparently ignore the ease of creating digital reproductions of CH items at no cost and with no risk of damaging the items themselves. Cultural Heritage institutions (CHI) claim quasy-property rights over the artifacts they are custodians of, thus posing serious restrictions not just to personal usage, but also to the development of public repositories like Wikimedia Commons. As the recent GLAMWIKI event at the British Museum showed, some institutions are engaging with open content creators in a positive way, claiming their role of primacy by sharing the knowledge they have, rather than closing their doors and keeping the best for themselves.

In the case of licensing, the widespread distinction between commercial and non-commercial use is really harmful and poses more problems than it solves. What is particularly frustrating is that this distinction doesn’t take into account the existance of the Commons and of the Public Domain, in other words content that can be both commercial and non-commercial at the same time. A photographer might want to publish her photographs of Archaic korai under a CC-BY-SA license, thus enabling any kind of reuse, from the incorporation into Wikimedia Commons to the publishing on a tourist guide or a textbook.

Here a further distinction is worth: most CH items are in the Public Domain themselves (because they were made several centuries ago), but the same doesn’t currently apply to their digital reproductions. If the r. is basically a mechanical operation, one might argue that no copyright should apply to the reproduction, too. Clearly, the distinction between a work that is creative and one that is not is going to be very dangerous in the case of photography and ultimately impossible (think about those monuments that are photographed thousands of times per day).

The fact that going into these subtle juridic details takes so much time and effort is, alone, a good example of the difficulties that this double layer of rights is posing.

The recommendations we collected are aimed in the direction of clearing the nature and extent of CHR, and of maximising the benefits for the Commons and the Public Domain. CHR should not be property rights but rather access rights, thus posing no limitations on subsequent copies of the first reproduction once this takes place. If there is going to be a fee for commercial use of reproductions, the process has to be easy and quick. The policy for museum visitors should be “open by default” and larger institutions (or networks) might ask digital publishers like bloggers and wikipedians to link back to the original item – even though this assumes that there’s a digital collection available on the Web. Licensing of such collections is beyond the scope of COMMUNIA, and CH is also explicitly excluded from the EU PSI directive. There was some work done by the LAPSI project at the last meeting in Barcelona about this, and the survey launched by the European Commission might help in changing this situation. Clearly, countries like Italy and Greece might see this as “selling out” one of their major assets for economic development. We believe the opposite, and tried to develop our discussion around the concept of cultural heritage as infrastructure, just like the road network or the public green, that needs to be maintained for the benefit of all citizens and the overall development of society.

CHI want to retain control over items and buildings that they often regard as “theirs”, but this need has to live together with the fact that millions of people want to share digital content about cultural heritage on the web. Ultimately, this fact should be regarded as a very positive thing, if the mission of institutions is to maximise the awareness of Cultural Heritage among the public and the impact it has on the social and economic life of EU citizens.

Opening up European public sector information: two recommendations

Jonathan Gray - July 8, 2010 in COMMUNIA, External, Ideas and musings, Open Data, Open Government Data, Policy, WG EU Open Data, Working Groups

Last week I participated in the third (and sadly final!) conference of Communia project, a European thematic network on the digital public domain. The theme of this conference was University and Cyberspace and several of the talks articulated a vision in which universities, academics, and students play a key role in creating, curating and promoting the digital commons.

The panel that I took part in gave an overview of some of the key activities that the Communia project has undertaken — including work that we have been doing on the public domain calculators, which aim to help users find and identify works which are in the public domain in their jurisdiction.

I spoke briefly about the relation between the public domain and open government data — giving a brief introduction to the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of open government data and an overview of some of the many developments since our workshop on reusing public sector content and data in March 2009.

I concluded with two main ‘take-home’ points about open government data, public sector information and the digital public domain in Europe:

  1. Broaden the scope of the PSI Directive. The directive does not currently include publicly funded cultural heritage organisations — such as museums or galleries — within its scope. The directive could be broadened to include these kinds of organisations, which might encourage them to open up their content and data for others to reuse. Opening up metadata about works and objects held by publicly funded cultural heritage organisations could be very useful to (i) help establish what is in the public domain in a given jurisdiction (as per the work on the calculators) and (ii) help to bootstrap a new generation of digital services for researchers and for the general public.

  2. Broaden the evidence base for opening up PSI. At present the European Commission primarily focuses on the value of PSI in a fairly narrow sense — e.g. citing the MEPSIR and PIRA study estimates of a market size of 27 or 68 billion Euros (respectively). While this kind of evidence is obviously crucial for European policymakers, the Commission should also take into account other potential benefits of opening up PSI, such as improvements to public service delivery, greater accountability of public bodies, the intrinsic value of PSI (e.g. cultural or educational), and enabling the creation of new digital services for citizens. Value is not only about money!

Public Domain Calculators at Europeana

Guest - May 12, 2010 in COMMUNIA, External, OKF Projects, Open Knowledge Foundation, Public Domain, Public Domain Works, Technical, WG Public Domain, Working Groups

The following guest post is from Christina Angelopoulos at the Institute for Information Law (IViR) and Maarten Zeinstra at Nederland Kennisland who are working on building a series of Public Domain Calculators as part of the Europeana project. Both are also members of the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Working Group on the Public Domain.

Europeana Logo

Over the past few months the Institute for Information Law (IViR) of the University of Amsterdam and Nederland Kennisland have been collaborating on the preparation of a set of six Public Domain Helper Tools as part of the EuropeanConnect project. The Tools are intended to assist Europeana data providers in the determination of whether or not a certain work or other subject matter vested with copyright or neighbouring rights (related rights) has fallen into the public domain and can therefore be freely copied or re-used, through functioning as a simple interface between the user and the often complex set of national rules governing the term of protection. The issue is of significance for Europeana, as contributing organisations will be expected to clearly mark the material in their collection as being in the public domain, through the attachment of a Europeana Public Domain Licence, whenever possible.

The Tools are based on six National Flowcharts (Decisions Trees) built by IViR on the basis of research into the duration of the protection of subject matter in which copyright or neighbouring rights subsist in six European jurisdictions (the Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom). By means of a series of simple yes-or-no questions, the Flowcharts are intended to guide the user through all important issues relevant to the determination of the public domain status of a given item.

Researching Copyright Law

The first step in the construction of the flowcharts was the careful study of EU Term Directive. The Directive attempts the harmonisation of rules on the term of protection of copyright and neighbouring rights across the board of EU Member States. The rules of the Directive were integrated by IViR into a set of Generic Skeleton European Flowcharts. Given the essential role that the Term Directive has played in shaping national laws on the duration of protection, these generic charts functioned as the prototype for the six National Flowcharts. An initial version of the Generic European Flowchart, as well as the National Flowcharts for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, was put together with the help of the Open Knowledge Foundation at a Communia workshop in November 2009.

Further information necessary for the refinement of these charts as well as the assembly of the remaining four National Flowcharts was collected either through the collaboration of National Legal Experts contacted by IViR (Czech Republic, Italy and Spain) or independently through IViR’s in-house expertise (EU, France, the Netherlands and the UK).

Both the Generic European Flowcharts and the National Flowcharts have been split into two categories: one dedicated to the rules governing the duration of copyright and the sui generis database right and one dedicated to the rules governing neighbouring rights. Although this division was made for the sake of usability and in accordance with the different subject matter of these categories of rights (works of copyright and unoriginal databases on the one hand and performances, phonograms, films and broadcasts on the other), the two types of flowcharts are intended to be viewed as connected and should be applied jointly if a comprehensive conclusion as to the public domain status of an examined item is to be reached (in fact the final conclusion in each directs the user to the application of the other). This is due to the fact that, although the protected subject matter of these two categories of rights differs, they may not be entirely unrelated. For example, it does not suffice to examine whether the rights of the author of a musical work have expired; it may also be necessary to investigate whether the rights of the performer of the work or of the producer of the phonogram onto which the work has been fixated have also expired, in order to reach an accurate conclusion as to whether or not a certain item in a collection may be copied or re-used.

Legal Complexities

A variety of legal complexities surfaced during the research into the topic. Condensing the complex rules that govern the term of protection in the examined jurisdictions into a user-friendly tool presented a substantial challenge. One of the most perplexing issues was that of the first question to be asked. Rather than engage in complicated descriptions of the scope of the subject matter protected by copyright and related rights, IViR decided to avoid this can of worms. Instead, the flowchart’s starting point is provided by the question “is the work an unoriginal database?” However, this solution seems unsatisfactory and further thought is being put into an alternative approach.

Other difficult legal issues stumbled upon include the following:

  • Term of protection vis-à-vis third countries
  • Term of protection of works of joint authorship and collective works
  • The term of protection (or lack thereof) for moral rights
  • Application of new terms and transitional provisions
  • Copyright protection of critical and scientific publications and of non-original photographs
  • Copyright protection of official acts of public authorities and other works of public origins (e.g. legislative texts, political speeches, works of traditional folklore)
  • Copyright protection of translations, adaptations and typographical arrangements
  • Copyright protection of computer-generated works

On the national level, areas of uncertainty related to such matters as the British provisions on the protection of films (no distinction is made under British law between the audiovisual or cinematographic work and its first fixation, contrary to the system applied on the EU level) or exceptional extensions to the term of protection, such as that granted in France due to World Wars I and II or in the UK to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”.

Web based Public Domain Calculators

Once the Flowcharts had been prepared they were translated into code by IViR’s colleagues at Kennisland, thus resulting in the creation of the current set of six web-based Public Domain Helper Tools.

Technically the flowcharts needed to be translated into formats that computers can read. In this project Kennisland choose for an Extensible Markup Language (XML) approach for describing the questions in the flowcharts and the relations between them. The resulting XML documents are both human and computer readable. Using XML documents also allowed Kennisland to keep the decision structure separate from the actual programming language, which makes maintenance of both content and code easier.

Kennisland then needed to build an XML reader that could translate the structures and questions of these XML files into a questionnaire or apply some set of data to the available questions, so as to make the automatic calculation of large datasets possible. For the EuropeanaConnect project Kennisland developed two of these XML readers. The first translates these XML schemes into a graphical user interface tool (this can be found at EuropeanaLabs) and the second can potentially automatically determine the status of a work which resides at the Public Domain Works project mercurial depository on KnowledgeForge. Both of these applications are open source and we encourage people to download, modify and work on these tools.

It should be noted that, as part of Kennisland’s collaboration with the Open Knowledge Foundation, Kennisland is currently assisting in the development of an XML base scheme for automatic determination of the rights status of a work using bibliographic information. Unfortunately however this information alone is usually not enough for the automatic identification on a European level. This is due to the many international treaties that have accumulated over the years; rules for example change depending on whether an author is born in a country party to the Berne convention, an EU Member State or a third country.

It should of course also be noted that there is a limit to the extent to which an electronic tool can replace a case-by-case assessment of the public domain status of a copyrighted work or other protected subject matter in complicated legal situations. The Tools are accordingly accompanied by a disclaimer indicating that they cannot offer an absolute guarantee of legal certainty.

Further fine-tuning is necessary before the Helper Tools are ready to be deployed. For the moment test versions of the electronic Tools can be found here. We invite readers to try these beta tools and give us feedback on the pd-discuss list!

Note from the authors: If the whole construction process for the Flowcharts has highlighted one thing that would be the bewildering complexity of the current rules governing the term of protection for copyright and related rights. Despite the Term Directive’s attempts at creating a level playing field, national legislative idiosyncrasies are still going strong in the post-harmonisation era – a single European term of protection remains very much a chimera. The relevant rules are hardly simple on the level of the individual Member States either. In particular in countries such as the UK and France, the term of protection currently operates under confusing entanglements of rules and exceptions that make the confident calculation of the term of protection almost impossible for a copyright layperson and difficult even for experts.

PD Calculators

Generic copyright flowchart by Christina Angelopoulos. PDF version available from Public Domain Calculators wiki page

Book Search, Museum View, and Exploitation

jwalsh - February 6, 2010 in COMMUNIA, Ideas and musings, Public Domain

Read today a Google Books PR piece on the Guardian website. Of out-of-print or hard-to-get books, it says, “Although copies may be available in libraries, they are effectively dead to the wider world.” Also heard today that Google Street View is proposing inside views, museum interiors.

Last week, I and some OKF people heard a Google Books lawyer, Antoine Aubert, speak at the 7th COMMUNIA workshop on the public domain.

Google digitise the holdings of libraries free of cost, returning the library a copy, retaining some exclusivity over further re-use for Google. For example, a library is asked not to allow other search engines to index the digitised full text of the works.

Rufus commented on the Public Domain Calculator cross-European project that “A library who will remain nameless would not provide us with their catalogue metadata because of an exclusive arrangement with Google in rights to re-use the catalogue. Were they mistaken?” Antoine was not able to give a definite answer, to this and other questions.

A library’s raison d’etre is to provide physical access to books. With high-quality digitisations online for free, physical traffic will definitely fall. Space used for storage in prime central locations is inefficient; why not just scan the books and keep them in an air-conditioned warehouse in Swindon?

Meanwhile a library’s purchasing power is partly determined by the number of people borrowing books. New books will be indexed and stored by Google directly from publishers. There won’t be much reason to visit a library.

The library will become a museum of books. The museum will become a mausoleum of things.

To survive as institutions, museums, libraries and archives need a sustainability model, one which cannot depend on state funding alone.

One path to explore is commercial services for special purposes – re-use of very large high-resolution scans, printing of images and facsimiles, new or custom images, new interfaces and search functions.

If Google now has the right to restrict the use of the works online, those libraries accepting the “free” digitisation offer are not free to build and maintain the services that, as memory institutions in a digital age, they really should be providing.

Well, there’s always Wikipedia, and particularly the Britain Loves Wikipedia events going on through February 2010, focused on photographing heritage objects.

Matthias Schindler spoke at the same COMMUNIA meeting about a German Wikipedia effort to fix and link metadata from authority files by the German National Library – some background slides. His message went, “Give us your metadata. Really, just give us your metadata right now.”

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