Berlin plans response to Google Books project | Science | In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 03.12.2009

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Berlin plans response to Google Books project

The German government has agreed to a plan to save digital copies of over 30,000 works from German cultural and scientific organizations in an online library. It's seen as a response to Google's Book Search project.

Two hands holding a book near a scanner

The German Digital Library will be publically funded and without commercial interests

The German Cabinet agreed Wednesday to a plan that would fund the digitization of books, pictures, sculptures, notes, music and films and make them available on the Internet. Culture Minister Bernd Neumann called the project a "quantum leap into the world of digital information."

The project, called the German Digital Library (DDB), would go online in 2011 and play a major role in the preservation of Germany's cultural identity, Neumann added. Initial funding of 5 million euros ($7.6 million) as well as annual costs of 2.6 million euros will come from a German economic bail-out program and be split by the federal and state governments.

The German project is a response to the Google Book Search program, which the German government opposed, saying it lacked sufficient protections for copyright holders.

An answer to Google

A scanner passes over a book

The DDB will contribute its work to the Europe-wide Europeana database

"The German Digital Library is a reasonable response to Google," Neumann said, adding that the German project would first seek copyright holders' approval before digitizing a work, rather than following Google's strategy of allowing copyright holders to have their works removed from the database after being digitized.

The online library would also be publicly funded and without commercial interests, Neumann added. As a private company, Google has been widely criticized by European governments as well as library associations for not clearly stating how and at what cost - if any - it would make digitized information available.

The DDB would also be linked to Europeana, a similar project being undertaken by the European Union. Europeana was also started in response to the Google Book and went live in 2008, but the platform has been hindered by technical and usability issues as well as a lack of content as few EU member states have made substantial contributions to the project.


Editor: Kate Bowen

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