Europeana – Europe’s digital library, museum and archive – is the first major adopter of the Public Domain Mark. The tool will become the standard mark for works free of known copyright that are shared via the Europeana portal, playing an important infrastructural role in the EU’s efforts to ensure that all works shared online are marked with rights information. Europeana, whose partners include the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and Germany’s Bundesarchiv (Federal archives), estimates that the millions of out-of-copyright works made accessible via its searchable database will be labelled with the Public Domain Mark by mid-2011. Europeana will announce the adoption of the Public Domain Mark at the upcoming Europeana Open Culture 2010 Conference, to be held 14-15 October in Amsterdam.
“The Public Domain Mark is a further step on the path towards making the promise of a digital public domain a reality,” said Michael Carroll, a founding board member of Creative Commons and a law professor at American University. “Marking and tagging works with information about their copyright status is essential. Computers must be able to parse the public domain status of works to communicate its usefulness to the public. The metadata standard underpinning the Public Domain Mark and all of CC’s licensing and legal tools are what makes this possible.”
“An important part of our mandate is to ensure that digitized works made available through Europeana are properly labelled with rights information, including when a work is free of known copyright restrictions so that teachers, students and others can freely use it in their work, changing it and remixing it as they wish,” noted Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana. “The legal and technical rigour applied by Creative Commons throughout the development process makes the Public Domain Mark the natural choice for Europeana’s infrastructure. We have also worked with Creative Commons and our content providers to develop a Usage Guide for public domain works to help users of cultural content use it responsibly – by crediting the provider, among other things.”
The Public Domain Mark in its current form is intended for use with works that are free of known copyright around the world, primarily old works that are beyond the reach of copyright in all jurisdictions. Creative Commons is mapping the next phases of its public domain work, which will look at ways to identify and mark works that are in the public domain in a limited number of countries.
Creative Commons worked closely with Europeana and several of its members throughout the development of the Public Domain Mark. That process also included a public consultation period and review by CC’s worldwide affiliate network comprised of legal experts from more than 70 jurisdictions. The Public Domain Mark, to be used for marking works already free of copyright, complements Creative Commons’ CC0 public domain dedication, which provides an easy and reliable way for adding new works to the public domain prior to the expiry of copyright.
More information about the Public Domain Mark can be found on the Creative Commons website.