The Europeana Foundation, the governing body of the Europeana service, has published its Public Domain Charter. The Europeana beta currently links users to around 6 million digital objects. About 10 million digital objects are expected to be available this year, when version 1.0 becomes operational.
Here's an excerpt from the announcement:
Today Europeana officially publishes the Public Domain Charter. It takes a strong position in support of the Public Domain, saying that:
Europeana belongs to the public and must represent the public interest. The Public Domain is the material from which society creates cultural understanding and knowledge. Having a thriving Public Domain is essential to economic and social well-being. Digitisation of Public Domain content does not create new rights over it. Works that are in the Public Domain in analogue form continue to be in the Public Domain once they have been digitised. . . .
The Charter is published by the Europeana Foundation, our governing body (now completing its name change from the EDL Foundation). The Charter is a policy statement, not a contract. It doesn't bind any of Europeana's content providers. It recognises the dilemma in which heritage institutions find themselves. Our partners' drive to digitise and make Public Domain content accessible is tempered by a recognition of the costs involved, and the need to arrive at the most appropriate agreements with those who are willing and able to fund digitisation programmes—including the private sector.
We are developing plans to label the rights associated with a digitised item very clearly so that they are understood by Europeana's users, who will be able to exclude content from their results that requires payment or doesn't comply with the Public Domain Charter. Rights labelling will become a requirement when submitting content to Europeana by the end of this year.
While Public-Private Partnerships are an important means of getting content digitised, the Charter recommends that deals are non-exclusive, for very limited time periods, and don't take material out of the Public Domain.