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European Commission in Brussels Wants 7-Year Limit on Works Digitized by Google

In Brussels, the European Commission issued a report calling for a 7-year limit on exclusivity deals that companies like Google that digitize artworks and books from public bodies should allow other companies and institutions to commercialize those materials, three experts advising the EC said Monday. At the end of seven years, other groups would be able to use the digitized works for commercial purposes.

Google was observing a 15-year limit, and added that that limit needed to be more than halved. The NYT describes the preferential use this way:

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Union commissioner for education and culture, backed the experts’ suggestion for a system in which companies like Google could recoup the costs of digitization, but also ensure that a period of preferential use was limited to seven years.

During a period of preferential use, a public domain book, for instance, that was digitized by Google would be available only through a library’s Web site, through Google’s Web site, or through noncommercial Web sites for that seven-year period.

Al Verney, a spokesman for Google, said the call to lower the limit “adds to the discussion on digitization and highlights its importance in preserving and increasing access to cultural heritage.”

But Mr. Verney declined to say whether Google would follow the suggestion.


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