Copyright & Legal Matters Working Group

Europe’s New Copyright Directive: Golden Opportunity or Missed Opportunity for Libraries and Universities?

Posted: 14-05-2019 Topics: Copyright Strategy

As we reported, the new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market was passed by Council and Parliament in April. This means it will come into force across the European Union by 7 June 2021. Whether it is implemented well or poorly from a library and research perspective in a particular country is now, in part, down to you.

A European Directive sets out a high level goal, and can allow much flexibility and leeway in exactly how those aims are achieved. This means that as far as libraries and research is concerned it could be implemented positively or negatively for our communities.

The way the Directive is implemented by your government could open up new activities and services for your library, or create a situation where the costs, overheads or rules associated with implementation mean that, in effect, the new copyright laws cannot be enjoyed at all.

Your Engagement Is Critical

This wide spectrum of possible outcomes makes it especially important for libraries and universities and staff to actively engage in government consultations on implementation.

Unlike, for example, the music and publishing industry (including certain STM publishers) who employ government policy experts, the library sector does not have full-time government affairs staff focussing on copyright and related issues as far as we are aware. Even in the university sector, such positions are few and far between, if they exist at all.

Our interests may be side-lined if they are not voiced as part of the consultation process leading up to implementation of the directive.

Opportunities & Challenges

Some of the new opportunities and challenges that form part of the Directive include:

  • A commercial and non-commercial law to allow data mining;
  • New laws that govern the use of in-copyright works when engaging in distance learning, teaching etc;
  • Digital preservation networks;
  • Mass digitisation of out of commerce works;
  • A new law for use of online newspapers including small snippets of text;
  • New laws for organisations that host in-copyright materials uploaded by end-users.

How to Make this a Golden Opportunity

LIBER’s Copyright & Legal Matters Working Group therefore urges you to engage proactively in how the new Directive is implemented in your country. This ideally would include:

  • Finding out which government department will implement the Directive, and when and how they will start consultation on implementation;
  • Talking to the appropriate civil servants implementing the Directive, either directly yourselves, or through an appropriate body such a library association or through your university’s Rector or Vice-Chancellor’s office etc;
  • Attending consultation meetings. You won’t be alone. There will be many people from the creative industries in attendance;
  • Making written submissions to government about how the law should be implemented;
  • Engaging with Members of your Parliament who are interested in education and cultural heritage.

We Can Help

In addition, please contact LIBER to let us know whether you will be, or are interested in, engaging in the implementation of the new Directive in your country.

We would also be interested in tracing when the process of implementation at Member State level begins. Finland, for example, has been fast out of the blocks and has already started the process.

Finally, we are here to help and support you. LIBER, and its other library and university partners (EBLIDA, EUA, IFLA, Science Europe, SPARC Europe) are keen to support you in this process in the form of guidance, support and advice. 

Please tell us what you need – from high level guidance, advocacy tools, through to specific legal questions on the text of the directive itself. We will do our best to support you so that together we can ensure implementation is done in a way that benefits the research and library sector most.

If attending LIBER 2019 in Dublin, please come to our workshop on government policy and advocacy around not only the new Directive, but also GDPR, PSI, Horizon Europe and Plan S.

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