EU Report Urges 7-Year Limit on Commercially Digitized Works

In Global Trade Talk by Hannah Johnson

european union

By Hannah Johnson

Yesterday, the European Commission released a report which proposes a seven-year period of use on digitized, public domain works. This proposal seems aimed specifically at Google and its ongoing book scanning project.

The New York Times reports: “During a period of preferential use, a public domain book, for instance, that was digitized by Google would be available only through a library’s Web site, through Google’s Web site, or through noncommercial Web sites for that seven-year period.”

Google’s current agreements with libraries adhere to a 15-year usage limit, but the European Commission believes this is too long a time frame and could lead to a monopoly, according to Bloomberg.

The report from the European Commission, called “The New Renaissance”, does support “public-private partnerships for digitization” both because such partnerships will create jobs and because it will increase the amount of digitized content available. The Commission requests, however, that “a second copy of this cultural material should be archived at Europeana,” an online portal for Europe’s digitized cultural and scientific works that is funded by the European Commission.

The report also asks EU countries to increase funding for digitization projects and recommends that EU countries encourage digitization of out-of-print, copyrighted material by allowing cultural institutions to digitize the material in if rights holders do not.

These recommendations come from the “Comité des Sages” whose members include 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).

About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.