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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06PARIS5764 2006-08-29 05:01:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

UNESCO: DISCUSSION OF WORLD DIGITAL LIBRARY WITH UNESCO

Tags:   UNESCO AINF APER BBSR SCUL AINT EINT TINT KPAO 
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1. (U) SUMMARY. On Wednesday June 21, Ambassador Oliver hosted a
luncheon with selected UNESCO Ambassadors for John Van Oudenaren of
the Library of Congress (LOC) to introduce the concept of the World
Digital Library (WDL). With Van Oudenaren, the Ambassadors
discussed the possibilities of the WDL for the developing world,
what materials would be included on the WDL, and the issue of
intellectual property rights. Participants included the Ambassadors
from the Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Senegal,
and India. END SUMMARY.



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THE WDL AND THE DIGITAL DIVIDE:


--------------------------





2. (SBU) The Senegalese Ambassador spoke of the problem of the
digital divide between the developed and the developing worlds.
Villages in Senegal did not have electricity, let alone the
Internet, he said, and the country lacked libraries and
universities. On that note, the Ambassador informed the group that
China would be helping Senegal to build a national library. He then
spoke of how UNESCO can help Africa address these challenges,
emphasizing that UNESCO could be a catalyst in the WDL project. The
Dutch Ambassador asked how the WDL would benefit the developing
world.



3. (SBU) Van Oudenaren stated that the Librarian of Congress, James
Billington was committed to putting materials from the developing
world on the WDL. Van Oudenaren added that developing countries
would be able to keep the digital equipment used for putting their
materials on the WDL. In response to the Senegalese Ambassador, Van
Oudenaren Van Oudenaren reiterated that the WDL focuses on
digitizing materials, not on the digital divide.



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CONTENT: WHAT WILL BE PUT ON THE WDL?


--------------------------





5. (SBU) The Dutch Ambassador asked if the main issue with the WDL
was the hardware or the content, and how the LOC planned on deciding
which materials to display on the WDL. Van Oudenaren explained that
the site would have four entry points: simple search, search by
geography, format, or institution. The South Korean and Russian
Ambassadors both noted that their countries had a lot of materials
that they would like to show and repeated the Dutch question about
choosing content. In response, Van Oudenaren said that the WDL
would not put collections of large manuscripts online, though he
could not give a hard and fast rule about content, other than it
probably was better to err on the side of too much rather than too
little. The Dutch Ambassador later noted to the Mission that
although the WDL was a great idea, it seemed like if the content was
not narrowed, it would be taking on too much.



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PROPERTY RIGHTS:


--------------------------





6. (SBU) The South African Ambassador, noting that many materials
on her continent were in private hands due to the lack of good
public facilities, asked Van Oudenaren how the WDL would deal with
property rights and digitization. Van Oudenaren responded by saying
that the WDL would follow the intellectual property laws of the host
country. He added that the WDL includes technical safeguards: the
owner of the material would receive the highest resolution image.
The image on the WDL would be of a lesser quality. This would not
affect the quality of the image for the WDL user, but it would be
impossible for anyone to download a publication-quality image of the
material from the Internet.



--------------------------


RUSSIA: DIVERSITY AND UNITY:


--------------------------





7. (SBU) While the Indian Ambassador was interested in the issue of
national intellectual property law, the Russian Ambassador asked if
the discussion of it was important, saying that the WDL gave the
possibility of unifying the whole world's cultures on line. He said
he would pitch the WDL to the Russian First Lady, Lyudmila Putina.
He then went on to ask how the WDL would preserve diversity while
pursuing a unifying theme. (COMMENT: He seemed to be dancing
around the question of how content would be chosen (the unifying
theme) and made diverse at the same time. END COMMENT.) He stated
that the WDL could help counter dissatisfaction among minority
groups, saying that by allowing these groups a window onto the
world, the WDL might help stop aggressive rebellion. He used the
Northern Caucasus as an example.



8. (SBU) The Russian Ambassador also stated that UNESCO engagement
on the World Digital Library could improve the "crisis" of the
Communication and Information Sector, adding that he saw no real
output from the sector and regularly raised the need to improve the
sector with the Director General.



9. (SBU) COMMENT: UNESCO Ambassadors warmly received the project,
but are hungry for more specifics. While some worry that the
project might be too big to succeed, others might worry that the
project might be too big to control in a more political sense. It
will be essential to keep UNESCO Ambassadors informed of the project
as we move ahead in order to secure their long-term support. END
COMMENT.
OLIVER