The commissioners warned: "If we are too slow to go digital, Europe's culture could suffer in the future."
However, simply duplicating the settlement on this side of the Atlantic is impossible, partly because European laws don't permit the sorts of class actions that the U.S. publishers set up to challenge Google, before they reached their agreement.
In addition, copyright law in Europe is different in each of the 27 E.U. member states, unlike the uniform system that exists in the U.S. To avoid disputes Google has so far agreed only to digitize books from European libraries that were published earlier than 1869.
Reding launched a consultation last month seeking views on how to improve the E.U.'s copyright system so that it better suits the digitizing of books, among other things.
"Will the current set of rules give consumers across Europe access to digitized books? Will it guarantee fair remuneration for authors? Will it ensure a level playing field for digitization across Europe, or is there still too much fragmentation following national borders?" asked Reding and McCreevy in their joint statement.
Google's Clancy said in a blog posting Monday that the hearing with the Commission "offers us a wonderful opportunity to clear up misunderstandings and further explain the opportunities offered by the U.S. agreement. All of us, on both sides of the Atlantic share the same crucial goal -- to bring millions of lost books back to life."
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