Last week, Knowledge Rights 21 released a strong call to action to ensure that libraries can continue serving their centuries old role in society of providing access to knowledge to the public. Knowledge Rights 21 is an Arcadia funded project advocating for copyright and open access reform across Europe.
In their Position Statement on eBooks and eLending, Knowledge Rights 21 explains that government action is urgently needed because the market for eBooks now operates outside of the current copyright law that permits libraries to acquire, lend and preserve physical books. Monopolistic behavior by commercial publishers including refusals to sell, embargoes, high prices, and restrictive licensing terms have frustrated libraries’ ability to undertake collection development, hurting those who rely on libraries for education, research, and cultural participation.
The Position Statement demands that “governments must wake up and act now before the rights of citizens to access information and learning through libraries are eroded any further.” The Statement proposes the following clarifications in EU law:
1.The right for libraries to acquire, preserve and make a digital reproduction of
an analogue and / or an electronic book / audiobook that has been made
available in the market under sale or licence;
2. No more copies than have been acquired under 1 above, shall be loaned to
members of the public at any one time. Libraries should have the right to lend
directly to users, as well as via other libraries as part of interlibrary loan;
3. Neither contracts nor technical protection measures shall be enforceable to
4. Any loans made under this shall require the payment of [Public Lending Right] monies by public libraries in line with existing practice with paper and or audiobooks.
The Internet Archive agrees that action on this issue is important and necessary. We are defending these principles in US court, in the lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest publishers over our controlled digital lending program. We look forward to working with Knowledge Rights 21 and the library community “to help libraries not only to survive, but also to flourish” as the EU Court of Justice said in its landmark case supporting eBook lending by libraries.