By JAMES KANTER in The New York Times, Published: August 27, 2009
BRUSSELS — The European Commission on Friday will propose drafting rules that would make it easier to put many books and manuscripts online. The move is a part of the commission’s effort to bolster access to information and to encourage online businesses.
The changes would be aimed at allowing Internet users to access out-of-print works and so-called orphan works for which it is impossible or very difficult to trace the rights holders, said Viviane Reding, the European Union commissioner who oversees the Internet.
Any new rules eventually proposed by Ms. Reding could also make it easier to acquire a single digital copyright covering the European Union, rather than having to deal with agencies in each of its member states.
European Commission officials briefed reporters on the plans on Thursday.
Ms. Reding is stepping up her campaign to modify the European Union’s copyright rules to suit a new era and to enable citizens to locate content on public sites like Europeana, a digital library of Europe’s cultural heritage, as well as on private sites.
Ms. Reding said Europeans should “look very closely at the discussions in the U.S. to see how the experience made there could best be used for finding a European solution.”
On Thursday, European officials highlighted the role that private companies like Google could play in helping financially struggling public authorities carry out the expensive task of digitizing materials like books.
Ms. Reding’s suggestions — which are open to public comment until mid-November — broadly mirror aspects of United States copyright law and echo the proposed Google settlement by creating a central registry for the works.
Under the proposed settlement in the United States, companies like Google would be able to reproduce works contained in the registry in exchange for paying money to a central authority that would redistribute the proceeds.