Magazine article Information Today

Philanthropy and Secondhand Ebooks

Magazine article Information Today

Philanthropy and Secondhand Ebooks

Article excerpt

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions' (IFLA) ability to influence policies that affect public access to digital information has received a major boost from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Global Libraries initiative.

The foundation is giving almost $5 million to IFLA. A press release on IFLA's website reads, "The investment will develop libraries' ability to react to emerging issues in the digital environment, increase awareness within the public library community of the link between this emerging environment and their work, and create capacity to undertake advocacy activities in support of policy change."

According to IFLA deputy secretary general Stuart Hamilton, the organization will start fully allocating funds from the grant in the second half of 2015 to members for projects that meet IFLA's desire for more and better public access to digital information. "The investment supports policy change at national, regional and international levels by building capacity in IFLA and library networks to assess policy needs, create policy recommendations, and advocate for policy frameworks that support public access to digital information in public libraries," he says.

Hamilton adds that "activities are likely to be tailored to individual national circumstances." Who gets what will be decided by IFLA committees and representatives, and they will also draw up an overall project management plan for the grant.

More From Bill and Melinda

Recently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave its $1 million 2014 Access to Learning Award to Sri Lanka's e-Library Nenasala Program, which brings IT and free internet access to people living in remote areas. The initiative provides this technology at learning centers called Nenasalas, which means "wisdom outlets."

Meanwhile, IFLA signaled that it will work more closely with LIBER (Association of European Research Libraries) on a range of issues set out in a recent memorandum of understanding. The organizations have agreed to join together to argue for changes they believe will benefit libraries, to exchange information about each other's work in areas of shared interest, and to submit joint bids for the funding of common projects.

Secondhand Ebooks

One way of giving the huddled and not-so-huddled masses cheap access to ebooks would be to allow owners to sell such works online. For now, Dutch website Tom Kabinet is doing just that--but for how much longer? The Dutch Publishers Association believes this infringes copyright and is taking action in the Dutch courts to stop it. But recently, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that Tom Kabinet can stay open while the case continues. The Dutch Publishers Association says it has appealed against the decision and hopes the appeal will be heard in November, with a ruling in early 2015.

Dutch Publishers Association secretary general Martijn David says, "We believe that the buying and selling of second-hand e-books will have a huge and devastating impact on digital exploitation of books, but also films, music etc. This case is not only about [the] (commercial) interest of publishers, this is also a case about the (commercial) interest of authors, and about the (commercial) interest of retailers who sell e-pubs on a legal basis.

"On top of this we receive a lot of complaints about illegally downloaded e-books [that] are being sold by Tom Kabinet. …

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