European Copyright Proposals: Libraries and Cultural Heritage Institutions Respond

Disappointing European Copyright Proposals.


The Hague, 14 September 2016


Today the European Commission published its Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright in the Digital Single Market.

After several years of discussions, and despite a strong commitment of EBLIDA and its partners in the discussions,the progress towards a more inclusive and user-friendly copyright framework is too limited. As a result the proposed directive is disappointing both for the European citizens and for the libraries, and would request more ambition.

EBLIDA President Jukka Relander commented: “We are at a crossroad between the tangible and the digital worlds. The same goes for copyright. We need clear and simple copyright rules that are applicable in the digital environment both for the citizens and for the libraries that serve them. The public interest is at the core of our ask but not central to the Commission’s proposals. We call on MEPs and Member-States to provide the necessary vision that ensures that libraries can work effectively for the benefit of the European population.”

Read the full press release here (also available below) and find out what libraries and cultural heritage institutions are asking for in the joint position paper.


Only real reforms can bring EU copyright rules up to date

Libraries and cultural heritage institutions have long empowered people to learn, innovate and be inspired, without jeopardising the remuneration of creators. Digital technologies have opened up new possibilities to achieve this, to the benefit of Europe as a whole.

We had high hopes when President Juncker first talked about copyright reform. We broadly supported the Commission’s Communication on the modernisation of EU Copyright rules and set out our own ambitions for reform.

We had therefore hoped for more from today’s announcements. While they correctly identify some of the key challenges we face, the proposals are incomplete, and often undermined by measures which would reduce the effectiveness of libraries and cultural heritage institutions. As such, they risk doing a disservice to our users, and to Europe as a whole.

We welcome the proposal to make the right to perform text and data mining (TDM) on legally accessed materials mandatory across Europe. We strongly support steps to prevent the abusive application of technological protection measures or contract terms to take this right away. This sets an important precedent which should be applied to all exceptions and limitations to copyright.

However, allowing TDM only in certain circumstances will only prolong the uncertainty faced by researchers and ignores the fundamental principle that facts and data should not be copyrighted.

Similarly, proposals on access to out of commerce works, as well as digital preservation and education address important issues, but the measures on the table fail to enable libraries and cultural heritage institutions to serve their users.

There are also conspicuous gaps, such as on e-lendingremote access to library resources through closed networks, and cross-border collaboration. Without a more ambitious approach, we risk seeing the legal channel our institutions offer become less and less attractive in comparison with infringing alternatives.

Fortunately, the European Parliament and Council still have time, as well as solid reasons, to improve things. Libraries and cultural heritage institutions will look to them to deliver the reforms that Europe needs.



Quotes from our partners:

IFLA President Donna Scheeder said (quote): “Today’s proposals on European Copyright Reform are disappointing to say the least.  It appears that policy makers were more concerned with making concessions to one or two particular industries than they were with fostering the public good. MEPs and Member States should show leadership where the Commission has fallen short, and give libraries the opportunity they need to help citizens put knowledge to work and to build a more creative, innovative and so stronger Europe”.

Europeana Board Member Paul Keller said (quote): “As we have learned from the failed Orphan Works directive, Europe’s cultural heritage institutions need a comprehensive solution that allows them to show their collections to the world. Unfortunately today’s proposal is another missed opportunity to deliver on this objective.”

Public Libraries 2020 Director Ilona Kish said (quote): “These proposals do not go far enough in removing legal uncertainty and unjustified blockages faced by libraries and cultural institutions and their millions of users.  Copyright exceptions aren’t worth the paper they are written on if they can be overridden at any point by individual contracts. Without a more ambitious approach, we risk seeing libraries become less and less attractive in comparison with copyright infringing alternatives.”

LIBER President Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen said (quote): “This package is an important recognition of the tireless work of LIBER in campaigning for copyright reform to enable text and data mining. It is up to us to work with the European Parliament and Council from here to ensure that the directive is shaped in such a way that every citizen can use digital methods for knowledge discovery.”

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