Monthly Archives: March 2019

Getting the Right Measures: How Copyright Exceptions and Limitations are an Essential Ingredient for Successful Library Systems

In any recipe, you cannot just substitute one ingredient with more of another.

If you try to make a cake only with flour and milk, you get wallpaper paste. One made only of egg is a soufflé.

The same goes libraries and their work to support education, innovation and culture. A variety of ingredients is necessary, in the right proportions.

What ingredients are necessary for a flourishing library system?

Clearly nothing happens without investment. Libraries provide a public service, and have to be funded as such, with money for the space, resources and services their users need. It is increasingly clear that an open, high-quality internet connection is also essential.

They can also need other laws – for example those that give them a formal status, that allow them to acquire and keep books, or those that give them the responsibility to serve particular user groups, such as children or people with disabilities.

And of course they also benefit from a strong local publishing industry. In many countries, this is supported through grants to local authors and publishers, tax breaks, or subsidies for key infrastructure.

Without these, they cannot fulfil their missions.

Copyright provisions form part of this – both in terms of rights and exceptions.

Today’s creative economy is largely structured around copyright, which allows works – books, songs, images – to be treated like investment goods. This enables a certain business model which funnels resources from buyers to creators, allowing them to create their next work.

While movements such as Open Access rely less on copyright (the user does not need to pay for the right to read or use a work), it is still a fact of life, and libraries spend around $30bn a year on copyrighted works.

Without a major upheaval, copyright (or at least the purchase of rights from authors or other rightholders) seems likely to remain at the heart of the creative economy, and so the main way by which libraries can provide access to works for their users.

Exceptions and limitations are also necessary, firstly in order to cover uses which the market would not allow. For example, there is little if any commercial value in taking copies for preservation purposes.

The same goes for copying individual pages or chapters, or for using works for purposes which fall outside of normal market uses – for example showing a newspaper article in a media-literacy course, or taking copies for insurance purposes. This is particularly true for works which are simply not on sale at all, but still covered by copyright.

Secondly, they also help correct the excesses that monopoly powers can bring. The reason why monopolies in other areas are regulated is because otherwise they tend to lead to under-supply and over-pricing.

Libraries, thanks to exceptions and limitations, are able to ensure that everyone – and not just those with enough money to buy works themselves – are able to enjoy access to culture, innovation and education.

Of course these uses, under exceptions and limitations, cannot replace markets. Indeed, this would not even be possible under international law. At the same time, neither rights, nor spending, nor other laws can remove the need for exceptions and limitations themselves.

In the case of ongoing discussions about how to build stronger library systems around the world, both at the global and national levels, this remains a key point to remember. To succeed, we need a mixture of all approaches.


Read more about IFLA’s work at the World Intellectual Property Organisation to improve limitations and exceptions for libraries worldwide. Follow the livestream on the WIPO website.

The 10-Minute Library Advocate #11: Sign Up to a Blog or Newsletter About Library-Related Issues

The 10-Minute Library Advocate #11: Sign Up to a Blog or Newsletter About Library-Related Issues

Advocacy is about seeing the bigger picture.

To convince others of the value and importance of your work, you need to understand the context in which they work.

What are the major issues, the major trends, the hot topics?

If you know these, you can make your arguments more relevant. Are people worried about ‘fake news’? You can talk about how libraries provide reliable info. Are people worried about the cost of learning? You can talk about how libraries make this accessible for everyone.

But how to follow the issues?

For our eleventh 10-Minute Library Advocate exercise, sign up for a blog or newsletter about library related issues.

This could be run by your library association, or another one. You could find another organisation that writes about information issues, or even a specialised newspaper.

Of course, we also encourage you to read IFLA’s policy and advocacy blog when you can!

If you have favourites, share them here!

Good luck!


See the introduction and previous posts in our 10-Minute Library Advocate series and join the discussion in social media using the #EveryLibrarianAnAdvocate hashtag!

Leave It Out: How a Copyright Directive Without Article 13 Benefits Everyone

Leave it out! How a reasonable EU copyright reform is possible…without Article 13

The arguments for Article 13 (now renumbered to Article 17 in the consolidated text) of the EU’s draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market are not strong.

Despite protestations that it does not imply that platforms will have to filter content uploaded by users, it is hard to imagine a way of preventing illegitimate content (and a lot of legitimate content with it) getting online without it.

It overturns a key principle that has allowed for free speech on the internet, all while strengthening the hands of the biggest companies. It will have an impact globally, given that any platform available to European internet users is likely to be covered.

Moreover, the solution provided by blanket licensing isn’t one, as set out in our blog last week.

But what about the rest of the Directive, outside of Article 13 (17)? What would a Directive without this one poorly thought-out, poorly argued provision look like?

It turns out rather well, for all concerned. Indeed, once Article 13 (17) is deleted, it would be a bad result for everyone to lose the Directive as a whole.


First of all, authors stand to gain strongly from the provisions included in Articles -14 to 17 (now to be Articles 18-21).

These cover both the right to equitable remuneration from market uses of their works, as well as new possibilities to get a fair deal if their works turn out to be bestsellers.

Elsewhere, their interests are protected in the Articles dealing with out-of-commerce works. Alongside the possibility for rediscovery that these Articles offer, there is strong emphasis on authors’ right to stop their works being made available.

Publishers will gain from Article 12 (now 16), which gives a legal basis for the distribution of revenues from reprographic rights schemes to them. Previously, the legitimacy of such arrangements had been thrown into doubt by the Reprobel judgement.

Collective management organisations (CMOs) also receive a major boost from Article 12 (now 16). The Reprobel judgement had seen a number of them facing major liabilities for money paid out to publishers which should have gone to authors.

They have a major victory, also, with Article 9A (now 12), which underlines the legal status of extended collective licensing schemes. Finally, Articles 7-9 (now 8-11), on out-of-commerce works, provide a strong incentive for the creation of new CMOs.

European firms working with text-and-data mining benefit from Article 3A (4 in the consolidated text), which gives them new possibilities to mine works to which they have legitimate access. Unlike multinationals, which can simply move operations to more favourable jurisdictions, now home-grown companies can take advantage of the possibilities.

And of course Europe’s libraries and their users benefit from the various new provisions on preservation, access to out-of-commerce works, and text and data mining as above.


So when, as we hope, Article 13 falls, there is no good reason not to vote through the rest of the Directive. Indeed, not supporting the rest of the Directive, following the removal of Article 13, would be a loss for all sides of the debate.

Clearly, the Directive still wouldn’t be perfect – ideally Article 11 should also be removed, given that evidence has shown that it seems to be a bad deal for the press publishers who are demanding it. But it would be a lot less bad.

Meanwhile, the approach of Article 13 – of using copyright law to address a competition issue – coupled with different approaches taken to platform responsibility in other areas (terrorist content, deliberate misinformation) is only likely to lead to complexity. The result will be only to strengthen the hands of those best able to deal with it.

For the sake of human rights – and the principles of sensible regulation – this is a question best dealt with in the next parliament.

The 10-Minute Library Advocate #10: Take a Great Photo of Your Library at Work

The 10-Minute Library Advocate Number 10: Take a Great Photo of Your Library at Work

Pictures are powerful.

They can both illustrate and support text, but also help make things real.

This certainly goes for libraries. They can show activity, a pleasant space, great resources, and help people you’re talking with imagine themselves there.

They are an important tool for advocacy, even more so with the rise of social networks and other online means of communication.

So for our tenth 10-Minute Library Advocate exercise, take a great photo of your library at work.

Make sure it shows something positive and attractive that will support your advocacy.

Ideally, and if they (or their parents, if they are children) are happy to be photographed, include users!

If you’re not a great photographer, try and find a colleague or user who is. There may be a local photography club – you could start a competition. Make sure you get permission to use the photo of course.

You can find some great hints about photos in the Library Map of the World Storytelling Manual.

Once you’ve got your photo (or photos!), you can start to make your website, social media presence and other advocacy tools more lively.

Good luck!


See the introduction and previous posts in our 10-Minute Library Advocate series and join the discussion in social media using the #EveryLibrarianAnAdvocate hashtag!

Bad Maths in the European Copyright Reform, or How 9A Doesn’t Fit into 13

Meme - Solution, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means

While IFLA has focused most of its efforts throughout the European copyright reform process on those provisions that are most relevant to libraries, it is clear that for many, Article 13 is where it’s at.

This makes sense. Article 13 is a big deal, threatening to overturn one of the key pillars of the development of the internet – the idea that intermediaries (platforms, forums, services such as Dropbox), should not be held liable for content uploaded by their users.

By changing this, and making intermediaries liable, the Directive risks placing huge pressure on such platforms – which have taken on a massive role in the way we communicate and express ourselves – to filter content even before it is uploaded.

In effect, users would be treated as guilty until proven innocent. And the tools used to check innocence are flawed, given their inability to spot legitimate uses of works, and the fact that there will be little penalty for platforms from blocking free speech.

Aware of how controversial this is, supporters of Article 13 have tried to argue that there is an alternative. Platforms could sign blanket licences that could cover all works that could potentially be uploaded. They point out that the new Article 9A, which offers legal clarity to Extended Collective Licensing (ECL) schemes, allows for this.

To offer a short definition, ECL schemes are those where a collective management organisation (CMO) – which usually manages licensing for its members – can also sell licences for non-members, and should then try to redistribute royalties to these non-members.

The argument can seem attractive, and would doubtless benefit the biggest platforms (the only ones who can pay for such blanket licences) and the collective management organisations that run such schemes.

However, two pieces of research produced by IFLA last year underline the fundamental problems with the assumption that Article 9A is what will make Article 13 workable.


Patchy at Best – CMO Coverage in Europe

A first looks at the coverage of collective management organisations – i.e. in how many countries, and how many sectors, do CMOs exist. In effect, to be able to offer a blanket licence for works in a particular sector, there needs to be a CMO in the first place. But this is far from being the case everywhere.

As a survey across EU Member States and beyond underlined, coverage is patchy at best, both in terms of countries and sectors. Barely 60% of countries covered have CMOs in sectors such as photography and broadcasting rights, and only half have them for film.

The consequence risks being that there is an effective block on all content from countries where CMOs don’t exist and so cannot offer blanket licences. There is then a chance, in effect, that people in these countries trying to express themselves – through photos, book reviews, film reviews, critiques or parodies – will simply be unable to do so online.

Clearly, in time, it is possible that new CMOs will emerge to fill the gap. But this is a long way off, and it takes time for a new CMO to gain members and trust.


A High Bar for Successful ECL

A second challenge is in getting the conditions right for extended collective licensing. As an IFLA report drawing on experience from around the world shows, this is not easy.

As the contributors underline, for ECL to be seen as acceptable, it is important that they actually have enough members to be representative, and that these members give them the relevant mandates (across all sectors, less than 20% of countries have CMOs that allow for mass-uploading of works to the internet).

The CMO also needs to offer the relevant rights (not always the case, as the example of Sweden shows), and be well-governed and trusted. Sadly, anecdotal evidence suggests that in a number of countries, the reputation of the CMO can make libraries and others unwilling to pay. There also needs to be a clear and simple possibility to opt out.

More fundamentally still, there are many types of work which are not appropriate for licensing in this way, notably works that were never intended to be sold (such as archival materials), or those which are available under a Creative Commons licence.

At a recent discussion at the London Book Fair, it was not denied that some blanket licensing schemes may indeed involve claiming remuneration for the use of such licences.


The argument that Article 9A offers a solution to the problem created by Article 13 is optimistic at best. In some countries, with a comprehensive CMO infrastructure and a tradition of collective licensing, it may work, although will still leave huge power in the hands of major platforms and CMOs. But this is far from true everywhere.

Indeed, the fact that such arguments are being made, with Article 9A providing a patch for Article 13, simply underlines how much of a mistake Article 13 is in the first place. Europe would do better to lose it.


Read more about IFLA’s work on the EU Copyright Reform.

The 10-Minute Library Advocate #9: Learn a Great Library Story

The 10-Minute Library Advocate Number 9: Learn a Great Library Story

Our latest 10 Minute Library Advocate idea comes thanks to Sue McKerragher of the Australian Library and Information Association. Thank you Sue!

Statistics are powerful, but so too are stories.

This is because the people you are trying to influence do not always think in the same way. Some are more analytical, some are more focused on emotional responses.

For the latter (and there are a lot of them!), a single anecdote can provoke a stronger reaction than percentages or big numbers.

The best thing is to have a combination. If you have only numbers, you’re likely to have an instant impact, but your point won’t stick. If you add a meaningful story of how the library service or program changed someone’s life for the better, the data is much more memorable.

So for our ninth 10-Minute Library Advocate exercise, think of a story which shows the impact of libraries on a human level.

You can find examples of stories on IFLA’s Library Map of the World, and ideas on the ingredients of a great story in our publication Libraries and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Storytelling Manual (check out also our recently launched SDG Storytelling Flowchart).

You can then combine these with numbers. For example, in Australia, when libraries together advocacy reports, submissions to government inquiries, grant proposals, and so on, they always try to include both. They make sure to include photos of real people where possible. You will find examples of this in the report on Australian libraries supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Using numbers, stories and pictures, you’re appealing to all kinds of thinkers, whether analytical or visual, and you’re giving politicians, decision-makers and influencers something they can pass on to others.

Good luck!

See the introduction and previous posts in our 10-Minute Library Advocate series and join the discussion in social media using the #EveryLibrarianAnAdvocate hashtag!

What has the Web Ever Done for Us? Five Reasons for Libraries to Celebrate the 30th Birthday of the World Wide Web

World Wide Web 30th Birthday 1989-2019

Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the World Wide Web. As opposed to the internet – physical networks of computers stretching to around half of the world’s population, the web is an ‘information space’ – a collection of documents and resources linked together by hyperlinks. It is what means that, in effect, computers speak the same language, or are interoperable.

The web gets plenty of criticism, thanks both to some of the content hosted there (hate speech, deliberate misinformation), as well as the way that it is used (hacking, crime, or manipulation of opinion). Indeed, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the author of the paper which set out the concept of web, has himself warned of the need for action.

Nonetheless, the fact that the web is far from perfect does not mean that it has not brought major benefits, not least for libraries. This blog sets out five reasons why libraries in particular should celebrate its birthday.

1) Open Access: the emergence of the Open Access movement has a lot to do with appearance of the Web. The possibility to disseminate research at low marginal cost globally – almost impossible when working on paper – has not only transformed scholarly communication, but even the way science itself is performed. This is a clear benefit, allowing for an acceleration of progress in key areas for humanity. While much still needs to be done, it is clear that without the Web, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

2) Digital Libraries: the Web has been a game-change in terms of how libraries can give access to their own content. Digitising and uploading books, manuscripts and other documents has allowed libraries to reach far beyond their walls, and serve readers and researchers globally. Making such works available on the Web has provided an incentive for digitisation in the first place, created new possibilities to ‘reunify’ collections, and moved us towards a much stronger understanding of our shared heritage.

3) User-Generated Content: a key principle of the Web is that everyone can be both a consumer and a producer of content. This is a point that Sir Tim Berners-Lee underlines in his own article. These new possibilities have allowed libraries to offer new initiatives and services – creative writing, book reviews or online community archives for example. It has also allowed for a huge volume of new ideas, complementing traditional channels such as established publishers, meaning that library users are more likely to find content relevant to them.

4) Reaffirmation of the Value of Libraries: while pessimists have repeatedly predicted that the Web will make libraries obsolete, in reality there is little evidence for this. While it is true that certain traditional services have been taken over, there is a widely accepted need for support in developing the skills necessary to navigate available information. This is a natural strength of libraries, thanks both to the expertise and experience of their personnel, and the physical space they offer for meeting, socialising and learning.

5) Communication: interoperability between computer networks also means communication between people. The Web has had a huge impact on the work of organisations such as IFLA. From annual meetings as the only major occasion to come together, it is now possible to hold a permanent conversation, and engage members of the library field at any time, and anywhere where there is the possibility to connect. New opportunities to share, learn, and innovate are the result.


The birthday of the Web is clearly worth celebrating given all the progress it has allowed towards the goals of the library field. IFLA looks forwards to continued work to ensure that every library and every library user can connect and, in doing so, has the possibility to live a better life.


Read more about IFLA’s work on libraries and the information society, and in particular our guide to internet governance.