EU Parliament signs off on digital library

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BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament on Thursday voted in favor of a €250 million ($355 million) European Digital Library, designed to hold a massive archive of cultural works including films and television programs.

The project, to be co-funded through EU aid and private sector partnerships, will include 6 million cultural works and be available to anyone with an Internet connection.

"In this digital environment, it is essential to guarantee access for all to the European cultural heritage and to ensure that it is preserved for the generations to come," the parliament said in its report, drafted by French Euro-MP Marie-Helene Decamps.

The parliament, voting at its session in Strasbourg, France, backed the use of digital technology "to promote, safeguard and disseminate the wealth and diversity of the European cultural heritage as widely as possible."

The parliament report does not lay down any criteria for selecting the films, programs and other works, but says the initial phase should focus on copyright-free material already in digital form.

The next challenge will be to digitize content stored in traditional formats, such as photographic negatives, films on reels, and music on vinyl records or tape and use common, existing digital standards to ensure interoperability of content.

This ties in with separate commission calls for EU governments to set up systems for archiving movies in national archives, film institutes or similar institutions.
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