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IS-ECONTENT

Programme funding

EUR 149 million
The programme aims to make digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable, facilitating the creation and diffusion of information, in areas of public interest, at Community level.

Abstract

The evolution of the information society and the emergence of broadband will influence the life of every citizen in the European Union by, inter alia, stimulating access to knowledge and new ways of acquiring knowledge, thus increasing the demand for new content, applications and services.
The conclusions of the European Council held in Lisbon on 23 and 24 March 2000 stressed that the shift to a digital, knowledge-based economy, prompted by new goods and services, will be a powerful engine for growth, competitiveness and jobs. On that occasion the role of the content industries in creating added value by exploiting and networking European cultural diversity was specifically recognised.
Digital content stakeholders are content providers (including public and private organisations and institutions that create, collect or own digital content) and content users (including organisations and enterprises that are end-users that reuse and/or add value to digital content). Particular attention should be given to the SMEs.

eContent-plus programme has the overall aim of making digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable, facilitating the creation and diffusion of information, in areas of public interest, at Community level. It will create better conditions for accessing and managing digital content and services in multilingual and multicultural environments. It will broaden users' choice and support new ways of interacting with knowledge-enhanced digital content, a feature which is becoming essential to make content more dynamic and tailored to specific contexts (learning, cultural, people with special needs, etc.).
The programme will pave the way for a structured framework for quality digital content in Europe - the European Digital Content Area - by facilitating transfer of experiences, best practice and cross-fertilisation between content sectors, content providers and users.

Subdivision

In order to attain the overall aim of the eContent-plus programme, the following three lines of action will be addressed:
- Facilitating at Community level access to digital content, its use and exploitation;
- Facilitating improvement of quality and enhancing best practice related to digital content between content providers and users, and across sectors;
- Reinforcing co-operation between digital content stakeholders and awareness.
The activities to be carried out under those lines of action target areas of public sector information, spatial data and educational, cultural and scientific content. L
1.) Facilitating at Community level access to digital content, its use and exploitation:
The activities to be carried out under this action-line encompass the establishment of networks and alliances between stakeholders, encouraging the creation of new services. Target areas are public sector information, spatial data, learning and cultural content.

The focus will be on:
- Supporting a wider recognition of the importance of public sector information (PSI), its commercial value and associated societal implications of its use. Activities shall improve effective cross-border use and exploitation of PSI between public sector organisations and private companies, including SMEs, for added value information products and services;
- Encouraging a wider use of spatial data by public sector bodies, private companies, including SMEs, and citizens through co-operation mechanisms at European level. Activities should tackle both technical and organisational issues, avoiding duplications and underdeveloped territorial data sets. They should promote cross-border interoperability, supporting co-ordination between mapping agencies and fostering the emergence of new services at European level for mobile users. They should also support the use of open standards;
- fostering the proliferation of open European knowledge pools of digital objects, for education and research communities, as well as the individual. The activities will support the creation of trans-European brokering services for digital learning content, with associated business models. The activities should also encourage the use of open standards, and the creation of large user groups analysing and testing pre-standardisation and specifications schemes with a view to conveying European multilingual and multicultural aspects into the process of definition of global standards for digital learning content;
- promoting the emergence of trans-European information infrastructures for accessing and using high quality European digital cultural and scientific resources through the linking of virtual libraries, community memories, etc. Activities should encompass co-ordinated approaches to digitisation and collection building, preservation of digital objects and inventories of cultural and scientific digital resources. They should improve access to digital cultural and scientific assets through effective licensing schemes and collective pre-emptive clearing of rights.

2.) Facilitating improvement of quality and enhancing best practice related to digital content between content providers and users, and across sectors
The activities to be carried out under this action-line are intended to facilitate the identification and wide diffusion of best practice in methods, processes and operations to achieve higher quality, greater efficiency and effectiveness in the creation, use and distribution of digital content.
These activities encompass experiments that demonstrate searchability, usability, reusability, composability and interoperability of digital content within the context of the existing legal framework while meeting from the early stage of the process the requirements of different target groups and markets in an increasingly multilingual and multicultural environment, and extending beyond mere localisation technologies.
These activities will exploit the benefits of enhancing digital content with machine-understandable data (semantically well-defined metadata based on relevant descriptive terminology, vocabularies and ontologies). The experiments will be conducted in thematic clusters. The gathering, dissemination and cross-sector fertilisations of gained knowledge will be an integral part of the experiments.
Target application areas are public sector information, spatial data, digital learning and cultural content, as well as scientific and scholarly digital content.

3.) Reinforcing cooperation between digital content stakeholders and awareness
The activities to be carried out under this line of action include measures accompanying relevant legislation relating to digital content, and fostering increased collaboration between digital content stakeholders, as well as awareness building. These activities will support the development of benchmarking, monitoring and analysis tools, the impact assessment of the programme and the dissemination of results. They will identify and analyse emerging opportunities and problems (e.g. trust, quality marking, intellectual property rights in education) and propose, as appropriate, solutions.

Implementation



The Commission, assisted by a committee, is responsible for the implementation of the eContent-plus programme, draws up a work programme and ensures that actions under this programme are subject to prior appraisal, follow-up and subsequent evaluation.

The Commission shall, in close co-operation with the member states, ensure general consistency and complementarity with other relevant Community policies, programmes and actions that impinge upon the development and use of European digital content and the promotion of linguistic diversity in the information society, in particular the Community research and technological development programmes, IDA, eTEN, eInclusion, eLearning, Modinis and Safer Internet.

Where the digital content involves personal data, Directives 95/46/EC and 2002/58/EC should be respected and the technologies used should respect and, where possible, enhance privacy.

Community actions undertaken concerning the content of information should promote the Community's multilingual and multicultural specificity.

Participation in the programme shall be open to legal entities established in the member states and in the candidate countries in accordance with bilateral agreements. Participation may also be opened to legal entities established in EFTA states which are contracting parties to the EEA Agreement and, without financial support by the Community, to legal entities established in third countries as well as to international organizations.

The programme will be executed through indirect action comprising:

a) shared-cost actions
- Projects designed to increase knowledge so as to improve existing products, processes and/or services and/or to meet the needs of Community policies. The Community funding will normally not exceed 50 % of the cost of the project. Public sector bodies may be reimbursed on the basis of 100 % of additional costs;
- Best practice actions to spread knowledge. They will normally be conducted in thematic clusters and linked through thematic networks. The Community contribution for the measures set out under this point will be limited to direct costs deemed necessary or appropriate for achieving the specific objectives of the action;
- Thematic networks bringing together a variety of stakeholders around a given technological and organisational objective, so as to facilitate co-ordination activities and the transfer of knowledge. They may be linked to best practice actions. Support will be granted towards the additional eligible costs of co-ordinating and implementing the network. The Community participation may cover the additional eligible costs of these measures.

b) accompanying measures
Accompanying measures will contribute to the implementation of the programme or the preparation of future activities. Measures devoted to the commercialisation of products, process or services, marketing activities and sales promotion are excluded.
- Studies in support of the programme, including the preparation of future activities;
- Exchange of information, conferences, seminars, workshops or other meetings and the management of clustered activities;
- Dissemination, information and communication activities.

Remarks

The programme is based on a decision (9 March 2005) of the European parliament and of the Council establishing a multi-annual Community programme to make digital content in Europe more accessible, usable and exploitable.
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