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EU proposes seven-year limit on Google

An independent panel of arts and communications experts has advised the European Commission to limit the amount of time a private company such as Google can exercise preferential use of digitized materials from the public domain.

Speaking at a press conference in Brusells yesterday, Androulla Vassiliou, EU commissioner for education and culture, said that Google’s current 15-year limit should be halved to seven years in order to encourage competition in both digitizing and commercializing digitized assets.

Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that Google Books is currently the world’s biggest producer of digitized content of public domain works. In the six years that Google Books has been around, it has already digitized 15 million texts.

As the company responsible for the digitization of a work, Google is currently granted an extended period of preferential use throughout which access to the item is limited, in Google’s case, to a library’s website, noncommercial websites, or Google’s website. In pushing for the new limit, the panel is hoping for increased access for not-for-profit organizations, specifically Europeana, an online portal for digitized works of European arts and culture funded by the EU

According to The New York Times, the commission also recommended “direct[ing] more public funds to digitizing those works to increase educational resources and develop new businesses.”

The commission also suggested that that would offer value for money, as the funds needed to build 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, of roads would be enough to pay for the digitization of 16 percent of all available books in E.U. libraries.