ARCHIVIA 14 Conference: Things which are not online do not exist at all!


The ARCHIVIA 14 conference took place in the framework of the European
Collaborative project CAPTCHA Creative Approaches to Living Cultural
Archives on 6-7 September in Linz, Austria with over 100 participants. All
of the speakers agreed that the preservation of our cultural heritage is in
danger! The outdated and insufficient national and European legal frameworks
for online archives, multimedia libraries and repositories are responsible
for the threat.

After the first ARCHIVIA Conference in 2012 the organisers succeeded to set
up a future oriented forum on the topic of online archivation in the context
of the diversity of the European cultural heritage. The urging need for a
timely European legislation for online contents was pointed out again and
again during the two days conference. Both political and social efforts are
needed for Europe to be prepared to face the challenges of the digital

Creation of the suitable legal framework and securing adequate financial
resources for the digitization and preservation of the cultural heritage and
ensuring its accessibility are the most important requirements. Until those
are not fulfilled free access to cultural heritage will keep lagging behind
the technical possibilities.

Open access to nonprofit and common benefit online archives is still not
provided. Non-commercial usage of cultural heritage is impeded by outdated
copyright laws, excessive protection periods and commercial interests of
individuals and companies.

Where we stand

The speakers of the first day were all representing institutions that are
dealing with the possibilities and challenges of the preservation of
cultural heritage in the digital age. Julia Fallon representing the
Europeana Foundation – which was founded by the European Commission and
tasked to facilitate the sharing of cultural heritage online – pointed out
how poor the progress on digitizing cultural goods was: only 10 % of the
analogue preserved European cultural heritage is digitized so far.
Europeana, the biggest European institution working on this field has only
12 % of this 10 % in its database and can offer only 35% of that 12 % for
reusing (which in the end means 0,42 % of the analogue preserved European
cultural heritage). Besides that, even Europeana has to invest significant
effort into the clarification and improvement of the legal status of the
data they are handling.

Extended collective licensing – is that what we need?

The second day sessions focused on possible legal solutions for memory
institutions to make their content digitally (online) available. Paul
Klimpel (iRights Lab Kultur, Berlin) pointed out the absurdity of the
copyright regulations in the European Union and at the gap between law as
“fiction” and law as “reality”. He claimed that enforcing the recent
copyright law to the maximum “would be something like cultural suicide”. He
addressed some possible solutions such as the drastic reduction of the
copyright protection periods, general obligation to register or the creation
of legal exceptions for heritage/memory institutions.

He also proposed to consider the adoption of the American or the so called
Scandinavian model.

The Scandinavian model was intensively discussed. For introduction Roger
Jøsevold presented the enormous work of the Norwegian National Library. All
Norwegian books were digitized from the very beginning until 2001, as well
as the majority of newspapers up to last week’s editions, and large body of
multimedia material. The results of this undertaking were made available to
the Norwegian public online. This great enterprise was only possible within
the so called “extended collective licensing” legal model and through
strategic partnerships with the National Broadcasting Company, newspaper
publishers and publishing houses.

Felix Trumpke (OLG Frankfurt/Main) and Stef van Gompel (Institute for
Information Law, Amsterdam) discussed the advantages and disadvantages of
the “extended collecting licensing model” as well as its alternatives and
possible modifications. As Stef van Gompel summarised his lecture: “While
(extended) collective licensing is the most obvious and perhaps best
possible solution for any large-scale rights clearance operation, especially
where right owners are unknown or very difficult (if not impossible) to
find, it also comes with a number of disadvantages. These include the
dominant position of collective rights management organizations, their
uncertain licensing mandate, and the fact that the collected royalties may
not always be distributable to the relevant right owners. Nevertheless, it
will be concluded that some of the disadvantages might be legally overcome
and others may need to be accepted if we wish to make Europe’s cultural
heritage available online.”

Looking to the future

All speakers of the conference agreed on the urgent need to find a common
European solution for memory institutions working with cultural heritage in
a digital way and willing to offer a free access to their contents. Thus we
must realise, that all the knowledge and efforts of the experts will be in
vain without ample political commitment to advance and push for the required
measures in order to change the European and national policies. Therefore it
is extremely important to keep on addressing politicians with this issue to
get the topic on the agenda and keep it there as long as it is needed.
Concerned citizens and organisations must take responsibility and action
together to develop and present relevant proposals and to carry on raising
the pressure on their elected officials.

The original language version of all lectures are available in audio:

…and in video:

You can find the photos of the conference at: (By using the pictures please credit Petra

For more information on ARCHIVIA please visit

For more information on the project CAPTCHA please visit