Copyright & Legal Matters Working Group

LIBER Cautiously Welcomes Copyright Improvements for Libraries

Posted: 26-03-2019 Topics: Copyright Strategy

LIBER cautiously welcomes today’s European Parliament vote in favour of new copyright legislation because of the meaningful improvements this brings for education and research. The victory is, however, bittersweet as we remain concerned about the impact of certain aspects of the legislation on information sharing and knowledge creation.

The final vote was 348 in favour and 274 against. LIBER had asked MEPs to vote for the Directive but against Articles 11 and 13. Unfortunately, voting on individual amendments (‘split voting’) was rejected by a majority of just 5 votes.

Following six years of advocacy, during which we spoke repeatedly with policymakers about the needs of research libraries and their users, we are pleased that the research community will now benefit from a Europe-wide copyright exception for Text and Data Mining (TDM), which forms the basis of Artificial Intelligence.

Libraries will also be able to digitally preserve in-copyright works (including through the use of digital preservation networks within and across member states), and can mass digitise in-copyright but out-of-commerce works.

Despite the many positives for Europe’s library, education and research community, LIBER remains concerned at the implications of Articles 11 and 13, which were also approved.

Article 11 (nicknamed the ‘link tax’) introduces a new right for publishers, under which copyright will apply to the use of anything more than very short extracts of news stories. What exactly qualifies as “very short” has yet to be seen, but LIBER shares the concerns of academics in terms of how this may affect the free flow of information.

Article 13 relates to online content sharing services and introduces new obligations on organisations who allow end users to upload content to their platforms. Academic repositories are, thankfully, exempt from Article 13 but the overall effect on the sharing and reuse of content — and the knock-on effect on knowledge creation, which libraries heavily support — is concerning.

LIBER intends to work with libraries and library associations at Member State level to ensure optimal implementation of the Directive. We will  speak out if it appears that Articles 11 and 13 are impacting on knowledge sharing and creation.

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