[The Public Domain in the digital age]
The internet gives access to the digitised portion of that knowledge and creativity on a scale previously impossible. It is the driver for massive digitisation efforts that will fundamentally change the role of cultural and scientific heritage institutions. The digitisation of analogue collections creates new opportunities for sharing and creative re-use, empowering people to explore and respond to our shared heritage in new ways that our legislation has yet to catch up with. It has also brought copyright to the centre of attention for holders of our cultural and scientific heritage. Our memory organisations have for generations had the public duty of holding the heritage in trust for the citizenry and of making it accessible to all. Both of these functions are usually conducted at the citizens’ – i.e. the tax payers’ – expense.
Entrusted with the preservation of our shared knowledge and culture, not-for-profit memory organisations should take upon themselves a special role in the effective labelling and preserving of Public Domain works. As part of this role they need to ensure that works in the Public Domain are accessible to all of society, by making them available as widely as possible. It is important for memory organisations to recognise that as the guardians of our shared culture and knowledge they play a central role in enabling the creativity of citizens and providing the raw materials for contemporary culture, science, innovation and economic growth.”—
Beautiful words from the Europeana Public Domain Charter, 2011.