Soutenez la BnF
Search Form

Collections and services

Gallica Experiment: Offering Copyrighted Digital Documents

Since 2008, an experiment has been under way to provide access to copyrighted documents via Gallica. For the first time in France, a platform provides access to public domain material and recently published books in the strict observance of the copyright law. Gallica provides access to documents digitized by the Bibliothèque nationale de France but also by partner libraries. Recently published e-books are also available via the search engine.

The Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Syndicat national de l’Edition (French Publishers Association), the Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Centre national du Livre (National Center for the Book) have worked together to find legal and technical conditions as well as a business model that allows online access to recently published books in the strict observance of the copyright law.

The model provides access to digital copyrighted items via the platforms of e-retailers accredited by the publishers of designated books. The publishers might also act as their own e-retailers and provide online access to their collections.

Giving Access to Digital Resources

Gallica uses a federated search engine which allows the user to search both through the public domain collections and the copyrighted documents. For public domain documents, the reading and dowloading is achieved via Gallica. The access is free and out of charge.

For copyrighted books indexed in Gallica, the model selected should provide metadata and full-text search. The title of the document is listed in the results together with a short abstract that presents the context of the search. More information is available by clicking on the title. Gallica website then displays the full description of the document (table of contents, image of the first cover page, text of the back cover page, detailed description of the document), a short abstract in order to show the context of the search result. Then, it forwards to e-retailers websites for access to the documents which are protected by technical measures. These websites offer, for each document, a free and out-of-charge browsing through a display of pages’ sample. They also offer temporary rights for the reading and downloading of the documents depending on different technical and business models.


Gallica aujourd’hui : une offre globale puisant dans les gisements documentaires patrimoniaux et contemporains. Mars 2011 © BnF

If you cannot open the document, right click on the link and choose "Save Target [Link] As ..." Then, choose where to save the document on your hard disk, and click "Save."

Legal and Technical Conditions

The e-retailers wishing to take part in the experiment need to sign an agreement with the BnF. They must also have signed former agreements with publishers for the books they distribute.

The e-retailers wishing to take part in the experiment should be able to set up an OAI repository for the BnF to collect the documents metadata according to the OAI-PMH protocol: descriptive record, table of contents, wide format image of the first cover page...

Links enabling to leaf through and purchase the digital document should also be provided. Any specific document should be accessible via one e-retailer only.

Eventually, the e-retailer should be able to provide the document content according to a simple XML formalism. The exchange of crypted data will be available via the FTP protocol. This content will be used only to index the document in the context of full-text search.

A technical charter was set up by the BnF. It indicates the appropriate standards to be chosen for the inclusion of data concerning copyrighted documents in Gallica website (formalism of transmission of documents contents, metadata format, protocols of data providing...).

Financial Support

To encourage the publishers to take part in the experiment, the French National Center for the Book (Centre national du Livre) proposes to support the digitization and delivery of copyrighted documents. The CNL Commission for « Digital Policy » regularly examines the requests.



Thursday, April 17, 2014