Questionable New Renaissance

On the 10 January 2011 the Comité des Sages (give me a break, what a title) delivered their report ‘The New Renaissance’ (again with the big titles). But seriously, the Comité was set up by the European Commission in April last year with the purpose of making recommendations for bringing Europe’s cultural heritage online. The reports main headings cover areas like:

  1. Ensuring wide access to and use of digitised public domain material
  2. Stimulating the digitisation and online accessibility of in-copyright material
  3. Reinforcing Europeana as the reference point for European culture online
  4. Guaranteeing the sustainability of digitised resources
  5. Finding sustainable financing for digitisation and Europeana
  6. Complementing public funding through public private partnerships for digitisation

Also they have some interesting & innovative ideas (compared to others) for resolving the orphaned work issue and preventing it from re-occurring by introducing a registration for copyright. This would also help works which are not orphaned but just ignored.

On the question of digitalization the sages (LOL, again I can’t ignore the title) suggest that  if right owners don’t want to exploit then digitization should be paid for with public money in collaboration with the private sector. Also in the case of non-copyrighted, ignored or orphaned works digitalization should grant the digitalizor up to 7 years preferential use by private partners.

My main beef – and it seems to be shared by the 1709 blog – is the conflict between the reports title and the reports content: The New Renaissance will only be digital. Now don’t get me wrong I like digital. But in an age when we are closing museums and libraries, or cannot afford to display the contents of our archives digitalization is an alternative. However it is also an excuse not to maintain the physical – and that would not be a renaissance.

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