IFLA, alongside 63 other civil society and trade associations has co-signed a letter to Ministers attending the European Union’s Competitiveness Council. This initiative seeks to urge decisionmakers to aim for a more ambitious copyright reform that responds to the needs of libraries and their users in Europe.

The open letter reminds that “the lawfulness of everyday activities depends on being able to count on a clear legal framework allowing (…) individuals to access and use cultural goods, researchers to collaborate across borders using the latest technologies, and creators to be remunerated and contribute to Europe’s rich cultural heritage”.

On the subject of the articles concerning the activities of libraries, the letter says the following:

If Europe wants to be a leader in the area of research but also of innovation by businesses of all sizes, then it must adopt a fully-fledged exception for text and data mining which applies to any person that has legal access to content, and can be used for any purpose. It must also ensure that the proposed exceptions for education and the preservation and provision of (online) access to knowledge and cultural heritage apply broadly and uniformly across the EU, without being overridden by contractual terms or technological protection measures. IFLA is actively following the evolution of the copyright reform in Europe. The Commission’s proposal aims to adapt copyright laws to the needs of cultural heritage institutions in the digital age. However, some provisions risk being counterproductive or do not go as far as they should in order to fulfil this promise.

In this context, IFLA advocates for a clear legal framework for text and data mining, an exception for illustration for teaching that recognises libraries as non-formal education providers, the possibility to digitize for preservation and other purposes, and for an adequate for out of commerce works  (see our joint position paper here). National library associations and others are essential to these efforts, helping decision-makers understand how change could bring benefits at the national and local levels.

IFLA continues to work around the world to promote effective copyright laws for all libraries. At the World Intellectual Property Organisation, IFLA is calling for an international instrument that guarantees a minimum standard of exceptions and limitations for libraries, archives and museums.

At the national level, IFLA follows policy developments, and welcomes constructive proposals for change in countries like South Africa, Australia and Singapore. Please let us know if reforms affecting libraries are happening in your country.

Read the full letter here.