At a hearing Monday in Brussels, the European Commission issued a report calling for a 7-year limit on exclusivity deals that Google and other companies are signing with libraries and other cultural institution to digitize their material. At the end of seven years, other groups would be able to use the digitized works for commercial purposes.
Google is using a 15-year “preferential use” limit, but the report — and the comments of some EU commissioners — says that the limit should be cut to seven years. The New York Times describes the preferential use this way:
Androulla Vassiliou, the European Union commissioner for education and culture, backed the experts’ suggestion for a system in which companies like Google could recoup the costs of digitization, but also ensure that a period of preferential use was limited to seven years.
During a period of preferential use, a public domain book, for instance, that was digitized by Google would be available only through a library’s Web site, through Google’s Web site, or through noncommercial Web sites for that seven-year period.
Speaking to the NYT, a Google spokesperson didn’t say if the company would follow today’s recommendation. Google is still waiting for word on its proposed book search settlement with with authors and publishers.