The EU commissioner in charge of information society and media, Viviane Reding, is rallying Europe in an effort to put in place a pro-competitive European book digitisation plan to become operational sooner than that envisaged by search giant Google.
Reding said Europe should seize this opportunity to take the lead, and to ensure that book digitisation takes place on the basis of European copyright law, and in full respect of Europe's cultural diversity.
"If we act swiftly, pro-competitive European solutions on books digitisation may well be sooner operational than the solutions presently envisaged under the Google Books Settlement in the US," said Reding.
EU commissioner for the internal market Charlie McCreevy added: "We must boost Europe as a centre of creativity and innovation. The vast heritage in Europe's libraries cannot be left to languish but must be made accessible to our citizens."
The European Commission pointed to the recent hearings held on the Google Books Settlement Agreement in the US, highlighting the anomalous situation that would arise if that settlement was approved.
The deal would result in large numbers of European works in US libraries being digitised by Google, and being made available to US citizens but not to Europeans.
Commissioners Reding and McCreevy recently stressed that: "Ensuring that Europeans are given access to their own cultural heritage, while European authors are fairly remunerated, is of immediate concern."