For almost 30 years now, EBLIDA has developed a broad expertise on copyright and intellectual property issues with regards to libraries. The recent developments and the changes brought by the Internet (among others the question of access to e-content, digitised material and cross-border access) show the necessity to focus on this question. The approval of the 2019 Directive European Union (2019). Directive (EU) 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2019/790/oj) and the 2016 decision made by the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case Vereniging Openbare Bibliotheken v Stichting Leenrecht, 10 November 2016 open interesting perspectives in the field.
EBLIDA intends to revise the Council of Europe EBLIDA Guidelines on Library Legislation and Policy in Europe approved by the Council for Cultural Co-operation at its 68th Session (19-21 January 2000) and by the EBLIDA Executive Committee in January 2000 – in light of four major catalysts:
a) Active participation and the struggle for an equitable and democratic society;
b) The UN Sustainable Development Goals in Europe;
c) The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market;
d) Artificial Intelligence and other technological developments.
In defining library legislation we need to look beyond laws primarily dealing with libraries. There is a great deal of legislation relevant to libraries that is present in other legislative frameworks, first and foremost the nation’s Constitution. These pieces of legislation are for non-library purposes, but incidentally exercise important effects on the ways in which libraries develop.
A Revised Council of Europe EBLIDA Guidelines on Library Legislation and Policy in Europe should take into account the following five domains:
1. Freedom of expression and free access to information – i.e, a sound framework to have these rights guaranteed in library operations.
2. Libraries within the national cultural and information policies – i.e, the most appropriate legislative framework for libraries: decentralisation, autonomy, “privatisation” as a larger autonomy assigned to library entities.
3. Libraries and the creative and/or knowledge industries – i.e, copyright and other legislative acts exerting an influence on libraries.
4. Libraries within the national educational and social policies – i.e, policies designed to implement Sustainable Development Goals in Europe.
5. The protection of library heritage – legal deposit and other conservation and preservation activities.
In its action the EBLIDA Secretariat is assisted by the LIBLEG Working Group.
In many European countries a Library Act does exist; it is relatively easy to extract some of the articles – objectives, scope, activities, funding entities, etc. – and make them a standard pre-requirement for library legislation in all countries. More difficult is instead to explore non library-related legislation which is relevant for libraries. The “social” library – often designated “Libraries as Third place” – can only be framed into the wider scope of the European 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.