The European Commission Monday said European Union needs to urgently solve the problem of publishing copyrighted books online so as not to fall behind the US, which is forging ahead with digitalized books.

To be able to digitize and publish online books that are still under copyright but whose authors can no longer be identified, also known as orphaned books, Europe needs to clarify their "uncertain copyright status," the commission said.

"Important digitization efforts have already started all around the globe. Europe should seize this opportunity to take the lead, and to ensure that books digitization takes place on the basis of European copyright law, and in full respect of Europe's cultural diversity," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

Swift European action on the copyright rules may well give Europe an edge over the U.S. solution "presently envisaged under the Google Books Settlement in the United States," Reding added.

-By Peppi Kiviniemi, Dow Jones Newswires; +3227411483;