Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The European public domain

Economic and Social Impact of the Public Domain, a project announcement from Rightscom and the European Commission.  The announcement is dated April 2008 but was apparently released just this week.  Excerpt:

This project (commissioned by the Digital Libraries Initiative of the European Commission DG Information Society and Media) aims to analyse the economic and social impact of the public domain and to gauge its potential benefits to citizens and the economy. This is the first study to assemble quantitative and qualitative data about the scope and nature of the public domain in Europe. It will also produce a methodology for measuring the public domain which can be used and refined for future studies both within Europe and further afield....

A rich public domain has the potential to stimulate the further development of the information society. The development of the World Wide Web and the ability to digitise almost all text, image, sound and audio-visual material knowledge has resulted in an explosion of the citizen’s ability to store, and more importantly, share access to that information and knowledge. Public domain material has a considerable potential for re-use – both by citizens for information, education and entertainment, and for new creative expressions that build on Europe’s rich culture.

As well as the public domain itself, the study will also cover material that, although copyright protected, is generally available for all. The study will investigate the various voluntary sharing schemes which copyright holders use to grant broad rights to enable use and re-use of their creations. These include the various flavours of Creative Commons or the GNU Free Documentation Licence.

This study will also assess the role of the EU Directive on the re-use of public sector information. It will seek to establish, by collaborative engagement with organisations such as national libraries, museums, research facilities, archives and public broadcasters their readiness and ability to meet the terms of the Directive and thus significantly widen access to cultural holdings in digital form. This may help to make available a whole range of public domain material on which creators may build....