Europeana invests in open data, removes restrictions for 20 million digital objects
Europeana, the European digital library, has made available for free use over twenty million digital cultural objects. For the first time, this metadata may be used free of charge and without restrictions for creative, educational, and commercial purposes, under the Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain Dedication.
In other words, private and public institutions in the culture and technology sectors will be able to draw from Europeana and use its open data in order to design new, creative tools, such as apps for tablets and smartphones, games, websites, and online services. One such example is Time Mash, an app for mobile devices developed in Sweden, which makes it possible to compare views of places and buildings taken in different historical periods. This prototype was unveiled during a competition promoted by Europeana to highlight the potential of open data. Thanks to the twenty million digital items now made available, many other projects will be able to see the light of day.
The Europeana initiative, as its executive director Jill Cousins stressed, sets an important precedent on the international scene: «this move is a significant step forward for open data and an important cultural shift for the network of museums, libraries and galleries who have created Europeana. This is the world's premier cultural dataset, and the decision to open it up for re-use is bold and forward looking – it recognises the important potential for innovation that access to digital data provides. This development means that Europe now sets the worldwide standard for the sector».
With this initiative, Europeana aims to offer a new boost to the digital economy, providing resources to Europe’s cultural and creative industries, a sector which accounts for 3.3% of the EU’s GDP. Indeed, the announcement was enthusiastically welcomed by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, who praised the marriage between a powerful idea such as open data and a cultural asset of the importance of Europeana: a union which, according to Kroes, can only lead to good things.