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Europeana Publishes Public Domain Charter
Europeana.eu, Europe's digital library, museum, and archive, has published the Public Domain Charter. The Charter has been drawn up by the Europeana Foundation, Europeana's governing body, which is supported by the European Commission.
Europeana says it is publishing the Charter because the Public Domain is under threat. As Public Domain information is digitised, it is often becoming less accessible to those who own it: the public. Policy-makers and funding bodies need to consider the implications of removing information from the Public Domain and the knock-on effect this has for creative enterprise, learning, research and the knowledge economy.
When Public Domain material changes format from a book or a picture to a digital file it must not leave the Public Domain. What has been held in trust for the public for generations, often at taxpayers' expense, should not enter the private sector when it is digitised.
"A healthy and thriving Public Domain is vital for education, science, cultural heritage, and public sector information. No society can afford to put up barriers to information access in today's knowledge-based economies," says Elisabeth Niggemann, national librarian of Germany and chair of the Europeana Foundation
What is the Public Domain?
- The out of copyright information that people can freely use without restriction
- Information that rights holders have decided to remove barriers to access
- Much of the world's knowledge-the paintings of Leonardo, Newton's Laws of Motion, Diderot's Encyclopédie-is in the Public Domain.
Why is it important?
- Society constantly reuses and reinterprets material in the Public Domain and by doing so develops new ideas, inventions, and cultural works.
- The internet gives access to the heritage of previous ages on an unparalleled scale. It has accelerated the rate of innovation and the creativity of new ideas and applications.
- Access to Public Domain information lies at the heart of Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits."
The Public Domain Charter is published in support of the recent Public Domain Manifesto. The Manifesto is a statement made from the content users' perspective. Communia, who have published it, represent education and research, consumer agencies, technology developers, and think tanks.
Europeana, and its governing body, the Europeana Foundation, support the principal aspirations of the Manifesto. The Charter represents the position of the content holders-the organizations that are entrusted with the safe keeping of Europe's Public Domain content.
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