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EU digitization project in CHE

of possible interest, from the issue dated March 17, 2006

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European Union Plans to Digitize at Least 6 Million Books

The European Commission announced this month that it planned to
make at least six million books, documents, and other cultural
works available online by 2010, in the European equivalent of the
Google Library Project.

In a news release, the commission, which is the executive body of
the European Union, revealed some details of its plan for a
European Digital Library, including its intention to help finance
the creation of digitization centers across the continent.

The commission will contribute $72-million to the digital
library, and expects member states to make up the remaining
$250-million to $300-million needed to complete the project.

Early last year, Jean-Noel Jeanneney, president of the National
Library of France, warned that Google's plan to archive digitally
millions of volumes from five libraries in the United States and
Britain would lead to an Anglocentric view of history, unless
Europe responded with its own digital-library project.

The commission, though it never described the European plan as a
reaction to Google's project, did say that Google's endeavor
"certainly triggered a reflection on how to deal with our
European cultural heritage in the digital age."

The commission also said the Google project shows that "a
European Digital Library cannot become a reality without
addressing the issue of intellectual-property-rights protection."
The Google Library Project, which was announced in December 2004,
has raised concerns among authors and publishers who question
whether the endeavor complies with copyright laws.

Allan R. Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs
at the Association of American Publishers, said he was encouraged
that the European Commission was highlighting copyright issues as
a concern. But he said he would not be content until he saw
details of the European proposal.

"It's the same problem with almost any digital library or
digital-preservation program," he said. "The publishing community
obviously supports the concepts behind them, but wants to know
whether proprietary issues of copyright can be adequately
addressed to ensure that these initiatives themselves don't
replace the activities of publishers."

copyright 2006, Chronicle of Higher Education