Europeana’s Public Domain Charter
Europeana, Europe’s digital library and archive, provides an Internet portal for European cultural heritage, facilitating access to a diverse range of cultural objects, historical maps and archive collections maintained in galleries, libraries and museums across Europe. In addition to the collections and content maintained by the host organisations, Europeana also uses a number of additional open data sources to augment some of the content available via the portal, including GeoNames, the geographical database of place names.
The library has published a Public Domain Charter, setting out the principles for a ‘healthy Public Domain‘, explaining what the Public Domain is and why it it important. According to Europeana, works in the Public Domain are ‘…the material from which society derives knowledge and fashions new cultural works. Having a healthy and thriving Public Domain is essential to the social and economic well-being of society.‘ The Europeana website also discusses the importance of Public Domain in the digital age, which has resulted in ‘massive digitisation efforts‘ producing digital collections on a scale previously unimaginable and introduced new funding challenges for the organisations that develop and maintain those collections. Given the current fiscal conditions facing many European countries, Europeana acknowledges the pressure many organisations may be under to generate income from licensing their content to help offset the costs of producing these new digital resources. However, by publishing the Public Domain Charter, Europeana hopes it will send out a strong signal to content providers and policy makers as to the importance of maintaining works in the Public Domain.