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EU Ebook Lending and OA Pilot in Sweden

Magazine article Information Today

EU Ebook Lending and OA Pilot in Sweden

Article excerpt

Public libraries in European Union (EU) countries should not need copyright holders' permission to lend electronic versions of books to the public. That's the view of Poland's Maciej Szpunar, advocate general at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). He recently expressed his opinion as a Dutch case on this issue is being considered by the CJEU and is now awaiting judgment.

The case centers on a dispute between the Netherlands Public Library Association and Stichtung Leenrecht, the Netherlands' public lending rights body. Basically, the association wants to introduce a one-digital-copy-per-user system that would allow libraries to create a digital copy of a book and provide it on their servers. The ebook would then be lent to one borrower at a time. In effect, this system mimics the lending of hard-copy works. The case was referred to the CJEU by a Dutch court in The Hague and was initially heard in March this year.

In Szpunar's opinion, which is not binding on the CJEU, this approach may come within the scope of the 2006 directive on rental and lending rights. A recent CJEU statement says Szpunar considers that the EU legislature "did not contemplate the inclusion of the lending of electronic books within the directive's concept of 'lending' because the technology relating to commercially viable electronic books was at that time only in its infancy. He thus suggests that a 'dynamic' or 'evolving' interpretation of the directive should be applied, arguing, ... that the lending of electronic books is the modern equivalent of the lending of printed books."

His view was welcomed by Member of the European Parliament Catherine Stihler, who represents the U.K. and is vice chair of the European Parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee. "Libraries should be empowered to deliver content in all formats, especially using the newest technologies," she writes in an article in Parliament Magazine. "Yet the current framework does not allow libraries to buy and lend eBooks with confidence. Advocate-General Szpunar's opinion ... is welcome and I look forward to the final judgement." Given that the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slowly in the EU, that may take some time.

OA Pilot

Meanwhile, Bibsam, Sweden's university and research institute consortium, recently struck a pilot Springer Compact deal with learned information publisher Springer Nature. It should broaden horizons for scientific researchers at 30 of the country's institutes. The pilot, which will run until December 2018, will enable researchers who work at Bibsam member bodies to access more than 2,000 Springer journals and to post research papers in more than 1,650 journals on an OA basis. This should help them reach a wider, interactive audience. Wilhelm Widmark, Bibsam's steering committee chairman, says, "The purpose of the pilot is to gain experience by testing new processes and workflows for open access publishing."

Laurent Fournier, Bibsam's licensing manager and legal advisor, says, "We will closely follow up on the implementation and progress throughout the term of the deal. We expect to learn a lot from it. This experience will be very useful in negotiations with other publishers." Payments to Springer will be handled centrally by the National Library of Sweden on behalf of participating bodies, including Uppsala, Lund, and Stockholm universities and the Karolinska Institute. The Swedish Research Council and the National Library of Sweden are also providing financial support to the pilot, says Fournier.

"One important advantage of the Springer Compact deal is that it allows us to keep track on the overall expenses. …

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