Wednesday 1 April 2015

The London Manifesto: time for reform?

"“Fair copyright for all across Europe” rallying call from libraries, archives and charities" is the title of a media release that went live the moment this blogpost did, at one minute past midnight on 1 April. Issued by the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP), it reads as follows:
In a bid for fair copyright laws that will benefit citizens and researchers across Europe organisations including the Wellcome Trust, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals, Royal Museums Greenwich and the Open Rights Group have called for much needed reforms.

The London Manifesto calls for fair copyright for libraries and archives across Europe. The manifesto outlines needed reforms that will better support research, innovation and growth and will help create a digital single market. It focuses on the important role of libraries and archives.

The reforms would bolster the rights of disabled people by supporting equal access to knowledge. They would mean that libraries can acquire and lend commercially available digital materials and, with archives, can continue to underpin knowledgeable societies in the digital age. The reforms would allow libraries and archives to better support research through modern text and data mining techniques. They would also create a more manageable system of harmonised copyright laws across EU member states.

Non standardised copyright laws across Europe are failing to support the vision of a digital single market because they currently prevent fair access and use of digital content. This means that researchers and citizens in one country can be subject to a completely different copyright regime than in another country. For example this creates significant problems for researchers who are working collaboratively across Europe. ... .”

Organisations will be able to show their support for fair copyright across Europe by signing in support of the London Manifesto at
The media release also featured supportive quotes from Naomi Korn (Chair of the Libraries & Archives Copyright Alliance) and Martyn Wade (CILIP Chair).

The full text of the London Manifesto reads like this:
Fair Copyright Reform for Libraries and Archives in Europe

Fair copyright across Europe is essential. Without it we will fail to adequately support research, innovation and growth, and hinder the ambition for a digital single market. With it we will better foster knowledge across borders, meet the needs of disabled people and take full advantage of the digital age. We are calling for fair copyright that is fit for purpose and will benefit every European citizen.

We are advocating:

Harmonised exceptions: Harmonisation and uniform application of copyright exceptions across all EU member states so that they apply regardless of media or technology.

Open norm: The addition of a new “open norm”, an open-ended exception subject to the three-step test, to avoid the current situation where European creativity and research cannot immediately benefit from technological innovations because copyright legislation is slow to catch up.

Right to lend: An automatic “right to lend” for libraries, to include the right to lend all digital media, including transferring digital files for a limited period.

Right to acquire: A right at reasonable cost for libraries and archives to purchase or obtain a licence to use any work in copyright that has been made commercially available.

Right to mine: An automatic right to perform computer analysis of copyright works for libraries, archives or their users whenever they have lawful access to the content. This recognises that the right to read includes the right to mine.

Right for disabled people: Individuals with any cognitive and/or physical disabilities are entitled to the same access to knowledge as anyone else. In any country they must be allowed to make copies, or have made copies for them, in any format necessary if their disability is impeding access. The EU and its member states should speedily ratify the WIPO Marrakesh Treaty 2013, in particular to permit the transfer of accessible format copies between countries.

Right to enjoy statutory exceptions: Prohibition of contractual terms and/or technological protection measures (TPMs) that override any statutory copyright exceptions.

Right to cross-border uses: The right for libraries and archives to share resources and make available, communicate, transmit and distribute content and supply copies made under a copyright exception across borders.

Mass digitisation: An automatic right for libraries, archives and museums to mass digitise their commercially unavailable research collections, and give online access across the whole of the EU without liability to compensate rightholders.

Standardised terms of protection for copyright: Swift and complete harmonisation of copyright durations across all member states.
The List of Manifesto signatories at launch on 1 April 2015 is pretty impressive:
Archives and Records Association (UK and Ireland)
ARLIS UK & Ireland
Association of Dutch Public Libraries
Centrum Cyfrowev Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals
City University London
CLAUD - Promoting Accessible Libraries
Copyright for Creativity (C4C)
Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL)
Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre
European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations
FOBID Netherlands Library Forum
German Library Association
Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance
London Metropolitan University
Museums IP Network
National Library of Scotland
National Library of Wales
Open Rights Group
Julia Reda, MEP
Research Libraries UK (RLUK)
Royal Museums Greenwich
Share the Vision
Society of College, National and University Libraries
Swansea University Information Services and Systems
University of the Arts London
University of Leeds
University of Manchester Library
University of Sussex Library
Wellcome Trust
Some of these demands are long overdue and there is no credible objection to them. Harmonised exceptions, standardised copyright terms within the single EU market and ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty are obvious examples. Others will be more controversial. For example, the "right to enjoy statutory exceptions" calls for "prohibition of contractual terms and/or technological protection measures (TPMs) that override any statutory copyright exceptions" -- but it's not clear to this blogger how it at all this affects materials held by libraries, museums and archives and which are out of copyright, but which are not made accessible or are made accessible on restrictive terms such as a prohibition on making a copy or taking a photograph. It would seem anomalous if greater access was granted to works that were still in copyright than to works that had fallen into the public domain.

Readers' thoughts and comments are welcomed.


Andy J said...

As you hint at, Jeremy, the elephant in the library reading room is the matter of commercial exploitation of their holdings by libraries and archives etc. If these institutions are truly asking for these changes for altruistic reasons (as I'm sure many are), then the corollary must be be that all works, whether in or out of copyright, held by them must be made available to all members of the public for free (or at least for no more than a nominal fee).
There should be no special admission fees or other limitations in order to access the materials to which these special exceptions would apply, that do not also apply to 'normal' materials held by the institution. This would be especially important where a library held a unique copy of a work (eg Magna Carta or Mappa Mundi), so that no institution could not exploit a monopoly for financial gain. Not only would this be morally unacceptable especially where the work concerned is not subject to copyright, but also, if commercial exploitation becomes the dominant factor in determining which works might be made more accessible (say via digitisation) then such exceptions would be in direct opposition to the economic rights of copyright owners.
The matter of recouping the administrative costs of the institution should be resolved so that the burden is shared equally across all users, and not based on the relative costs of acquiring or transforming particular works. In other words if an access fee is to be levied, I should pay the same to read a copy of a Jeffery Archer novel as I would to consult Copinger, despite the differences in the retail prices of the two oeuvres.
The Deposit Libraries and their digital equivalents should remain free to access, given that they are provided with free copies of the works concerned. Although it does not appear to form part of the Manifesto, I believe that research papers which directly result from public funding should be made freely available. Clearly this would threaten the viability of learned journals, but since they would be adding value in the sense of carrying out peer review, then it would be equitable for them to continue to charge for this service. This would be on the same principle that all works produced by the US Federal Government are free of copyright.

Andy J said...

Whoops. The clause "that no institution could not exploit a monopoly for financial gain" clearly go manangled in the editing stage. It should read "that no institution could exploit a monopoly for financial gain"
Apologies for my error.

Anonymous said...

If CILIP are serious, they ought to be making this available in different languages, and trying urgently to get European institutions on board -- particularly French ones.

Was eg the Bibliothèque nationale de France approached? Were other French research libraries, public libraries, and library associations? What was their response?