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European Union governments may allow libraries to digitise books in their collection without rights owners’ consent in order to make them available at electronic reading posts, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said on 11 September. If library users want to print works out on paper or store them on a USB stick, however, rights holders must be fairly compensated.
The decision appears to mean that the directive could allow member states to use the exception on dedicated terminal provision to allow users to make a copy, said European Publishers Council Executive Director Angela Mills Wade. But it’s unclear how remuneration would be paid, she said. This could conflict with normal exploitation and primary licensing if a user can print out and/or save part of the whole work, she said. “This is especially concerning since definitions around private study and research are not entirely clear and are difficult to control.”
The decision “is a positive outcome for libraries and archives,” said Vincent Bonnet, European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) director. While EBLIDA is still analysing the judgement, the text explicitly recognises the need to safeguard a fair balance between the rights and interests of different categories of rightsholders as well as between different categories of rightsowners and users of protected content, he said.
The decision, however, doesn’t mention online access to books digitised by a library, but limits the exception to dedicated terminals, Bonnet said. “This may prove to severely limit the effect” of the ruling, as it doesn’t address the full exploitation of digital technologies such as remote access to knowledge and culture, he said.
Another question left unanswered is whether dedicated terminals include iPads or mobile phones on library premises, he added.