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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday January 28, 2014

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Julia Fallon

Julia Fallon

Community and Partner Engagement Manager , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Paul Keller

Paul Keller

Policy , Open Future

Copyright Public Consultation: Europeana responds, have you?

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Example of re-usable cultural heritage content available through Europeana:'Versailles : la salle du Sénat pendant le vote : [photographie de presse] / Agence Mondial'
French National Library

** The deadline for submitting a response extended: 5 March 2014 **

In December, we told you about the Public Consultation on Copyright Rules that was launched by the European Commission. Because this public consultation contains a number of questions that are highly relevant to cultural heritage institutions and how they can operate in the digital environment, Europeana has developed a consensus-driven collective response. We hope that our response to the consultation will contribute to a meaningful conversation on how to craft copyright rules that ensure that Europeana and the Network can fulfil their objectives in the digital environment.

This consultation offers a unique opportunity to provide input into a discussion that will shape the future rules by which cultural heritage institutions in Europe will have to play. It is clear that the current rules limit what we can achieve by leveraging digital technologies and as far as we are concerned, that means that the rules have to change! But this will only happen if cultural heritage institutions all across Europe make their voice heard!

Europeana's response is outlined below, along with information on how we achieved consensus and how you can participate in the public consultation, as well as share your views with us and the Europeana Network.

A consensus-driven collective response

To achieve consensus, Europeana formed the ‘Copyright reform working group’, consisting of members from the organisations that are represented on the Board of the Europeana Foundation. We have asked each member of the group and the Network to share their positions and opinions on the consultation. Chaired by Kennisland's Paul Keller, a collective response has been documented, debated and agreed with members of the group, including noting dissent where this is necessary.

To complete the process for securing a mandate from the Europeana Network, this paper has been circulated to all Europeana Network members. Each member is asked to support this response, but also to inform us where their views differ and if they do not wish their organisation to be represented in this response so that this can be clearly noted (any further changes to the response will be published in the 'Advocacy' section of Europeana Pro). In addition, our Network members are asked to support the public consultation by submitting their response - more on how you can do this below.

A summary of Europeana's response

Of the 80 questions posed, the working group agreed that 28 were directly relevant to Europeana and our Network and it is these that form the basis of the Europeana response. The answers to those questions are based on the following objectives:

  • Europeana stresses the importance of a unified legal environment that ensures that cultural heritage institutions across Europe have to deal with identical copyright rules (see questions 8, 21 and 22).
  • We argue for a reduction of the term of copyright protection (50 years after the death of the author instead of 70 years) and for a registration system for protected works. Both measures are intended to reduce the amount of works that are still in copyright but cannot be used because the rights holders have stopped exercising their rights (see questions 15 - 20).
  • We further argue for the introduction of more flexibility in the European copyright system to ensure that copyright adapts to changes in technology and to ensure that European cultural heritage institutions are awarded the same flexibility as our partners in countries that have more flexible copyright systems such as the US (see questions 24 and 25).
  • A large proportion of our answers deal with the copyright exceptions that should benefit cultural heritage institutions. Under the current EU copyright rules there are two of these: an exception that allows institutions to make copies of works in their collection for preservation purposes and an exception that allows them to make works in their collection available to the public via dedicated terminals on the premises of the institution. We argue that these exceptions are too limited and that they should be expanded. Cultural heritage institutions should have the right to digitise all works in their collections and they should be allowed to make those works that are not in commercial circulation anymore available online for non-commercial purposes. In addition, libraries should have the right to engage in electronic lending of all works in their collections (see questions 21-41).
  • Finally, we are also arguing for a strengthening of the exception that allows educational use of protected works so that it covers a broad range of educational activities including the creation of online educational resources. Educational use of materials made available via Europeana is one of Europeana's key objectives (see questions 42-44).

Responding to the public consultation

The deadline for submitting a response to the public consultation is fast approaching: 5 March. If you haven’t done so already, Europeana encourages all members of the Europeana Network to submit their own response to the EU consultation. You can use our response as guidance when formulating your own reply - picking out answers that represent your institutional views, or using the whole response.

There are also a number of other tools and resources that can help you formulate a response - for example, if you can contact your representative organisation such as IASA, FEP, EUROCLIO, EMA, OAPEN and the many others that are represented on the Europeana Board. You can also use an online tool to help you formulate a response: visit where you can find a selection of questions relevant for cultural heritage professionals with explanations for each question. These responses are based on a model response prepared by Kennisland for Dutch cultural heritage institutions which broadly follows the same objectives as those outlined above.

However you choose to respond, we’d be really pleased to hear about your response, so let us know by contacting!