WIPO STANDING COMMITTEE ON COPYRIGHT AND RELATED RIGHTS
27th Session: Geneva, May 1st 2014
Limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives
Intervention by the German Library Association
Topic 10 Licenses
Thank you, Mr. Chairman
On behalf of the German Library Association, I am grateful to the Chair for this opportunity to speak today about the importance of internationally binding limitations and exceptions for libraries.
At some point, we have discussed a way to solve the problem by licensing. In our view, this is no solution. In Germany, public libraries are simply not offered licenses by the right holders to lend E-Books to their users. This is not the case for all eBooks, but especially for the bestsellers, that are currently only licensed to private customers. To tame the right holders and to underline the need to license all available eBooks to libraries, I would like to mention a recent study
The makers of the study found out, that a lot of the E-Book borrowers will subsequently buy or license E-Books later on. Therefore we need to extend the principle of exhaustion to eBooks. And in this context, I would finally like to mention the campaign, recently launched by EBLIDA, which is called „The right to E-Read“. You can find some of the above mentioned arguments in the in „Der Spiegel“ published article, which is titled „How Copyright Laws Keep E-Books Locked Up“ and which is available for free on the internet and a few printed copies outside.
There is no balance any more:
One the one hand, the exhaustion principle might not apply to E-books neither to other digital resources, and on the other hand, licensing terms can take away exceptions, which were drafted by the law maker pondering the interests of right holders and the public.
In the digital world, publishers can decide alone who has access and to which conditions. This is not in the interest of public access to information and not in the interest of free research.
Publishers of scientific journals have huge negotiating power. Publishers exploiting researcher´s articles have a “natural” monopoly, if they are granted exclusive rights from the authors. Scientists and Students are dependent on citing a specific article in a specific journal. These articles cannot be substituted by products of other creators or right holders. So, the exclusiveness of copyright constitutes a totally different situation from other economic sectors. Libraries of research institutions and Universities are bound to acquire those journals, even if the author is allowed to put the manuscript version of the article on the server of his or her own institution. The extraordinarily high profits of some international publishers are the result of this special monopoly situation – and not of fair competition.This unbalanced situation can be avoided if exceptions are mandatory.