Tag Archives: Access to research

How HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) supports Libraries in pandemic times

By Sara R. Benson, Copyright Librarian, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Check out Sara’s podcast titled Copyright Chat at https://go.illinois.edu/copyrightchat

It’s Fair Use/Fair Dealing week and that means it is once again time to let folks know about exciting developments with the HathiTrust Digital Library. Last year on Fair Use Week I highlighted the ability of researchers to engage with copyright protected materials for text and data mining through the HathiTrust Research Data Capsule. This year, I would like to make readers aware of the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service or ETAS.

What is the ETAS? It is a portal allowing affiliated libraries to permit their patrons to access in copyright works remotely. Why is the ETAS available? COVID 19 has caused many libraries, such as my own (the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Library) to temporarily limit physical access to library materials. Almost half of our collection, however, has been digitized and is available in the HathiTrust corpus. Normally, users can only perform searches for how many times a given term appears in copyright protected works in the HathiTrust corpus. However, due to COVID 19, the ETAS allows users to view (but not download) entire copyright protected works remotely. Libraries participating must have the physical book in their collection and agree not to lend out the physical book. Thus, the book is being lent remotely on a one-to-one ratio to the Library’s physical collection on the basis of fair use. This type of lending is made possible because it is non-commercial, educational in purpose and justified due to the emergency nature of the pandemic virus. As noted by April Hathcock in a public statement created by copyright specialists and available at https://tinyurl.com/tvnty3a, “fair use is made for just these kinds of contingencies.”

So, as you celebrate Fair Use/Fair Dealing week this year, note that the pandemic has brought with it many challenges, but Fair Use has enabled libraries to keep lending their works digitally so that researchers and the public can continue to create, thrive, and produce . . . even during a crisis.

Get ready to start 2021 with #1Lib1Ref!

While 2020 is winding down, libraries and librarians around the world are already busy preparing for the 2021 edition of the Wikimedia Foundation’s #1Lib1Ref campaign.

Divided into two sessions, the #1Lib1Ref Campaign will take place from  15 January to 5 February 2021 and from 15 May to 5 June 2021.

The Wikimedia Foundation aims to gather and share knowledge in a simple, reliable way. In many ways, its missions can be considered as complementary to those of libraries: to provide access to information to all, foster freedom of speech, support communities, and reduce digital literacy gaps.

The #1Lib1Ref Campaign (one librarian, one reference) involves libraries and the librarian community, and focuses on ensuring that there are sources for all information included in Wikipedia. In this way, it creates an opportunity for all libraries and citizens to ensure the availability of reliable information online.

Why #1Lib1Ref continues to be a key area of engagement?

At a time that fact-checking and identifying reliable sources of information are a challenge for many, #1Lib1Ref is an opportunity for libraries to address these issues with their communities. This will contribute to providing better and more reliable information to all.

Libraries have an incredible amount of resources gathered in their collections, offering unique possibilities to provide insights on a huge variety of subjects. These resources can be key elements in structuring information on Wikipedia, yet they are not always fully used.

This matters because Wikipedia articles are sometimes the first point of entry to an unknown subject. Profiling resources on a specific topic ensures that this entry point offers a higher quality experience for readers who are looking for more information.

While some sources can be found online, many specialist articles and publications require access to broad resources, such as printed copies or e-resources, that are only available inside the libraries’ walls. This will be particularly true in the case of national and specialist libraries which hold unique collections – especially of cultural heritage – which are not available to access online.

Involving citizens and library users can also build capacities in information literacy. And, of course, given that the amount of information provided without reliable sources is so extensive, we can only hope to tackle it meaningfully with the involvement of all library users and citizens.

Where to start with #1Lib1Ref?

First of all, it is easy to participate in #1Lib1Ref, either online or in your library. Among the different possibilities, here are just a couple:

Option 1: Engage your colleagues and other libraries

First of all, you can engage librarians in your library themselves to contribute one source per day through the duration of the event. It is easy for libraries to get involved and encourage staff to edit Wikipedia (or even Wikidata, for the braver ones).

Simple instructions can be found on the #1Lib1Ref website.

Option 2: Engage with your library community

If you want to go further, you can create an event within your library! This event can be integrated into a specific theme in your cultural programming, based on your field, or a general topic.

in this case, you can communicate with your communities to invite them to join via social media, through your newsletter, or via information boards in your library or online.

Take a look at the resources on the website to find out more, and think about how you can engage your community, provide support or invite colleagues that might lead your event!

Let us know about our plans in the comments below!

Text and Data Mining: (Articles 3 and 4 of the EU-DSM) by REBIUN’s Copyright working group

The Copyright working group of REBIUN (the network of university libraries in Spain) is formed of Silvia Losa, as coordinator of the group, and librarian in the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Paloma Jarque, librarian in the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid, Rosa Mª Sánchez, librarian in UNED, and Patricia Sanpera, librarian in the Ilustre Colegio de la Abogacía de Barcelona. The group studies topics of interest on copyright for university libraries in Spain. We are currently monitoring the transposition process to guide REBIUN in the actions to be carried out in order to get legislation in line with the interests of libraries.

  1. Can you explain to us what Articles 3-4 of the EU-DSM Directive are?

Articles 3-4 of the DSM Directive introduce two exceptions to copyright for text and data mining.

Text and data mining (TDM) is defined as “any automated analytical technique aimed at analysing text and data in digital form in order to generate information which includes but is not limited to patterns, trends and correlations”.

Article 3 focuses on text and data mining for the purposes of scientific research.

The article covers the reproduction, and extraction from databases, made by research organisations and cultural heritage institutions (and their members) but only for scientific research purposes. It also covers the storage and retention of copies, for the same purposes, including the verification of research results.

A cultural heritage institution includes “publicly accessible library or museum, an archive or a film or audio heritage institution”. Art. 2(3)

Research organisations are basically not-for-profit entities or entities tasked by a Member State with a public service research mission, according to art. 2(1).

The exception covers text and data mining of “works or other subject matter to which they have lawful access”. That means all the collections of institutions like libraries but also those contents freely available online.

This exception is not subject to remuneration (recital no. 17) and is protected against contract override. Art. 7(1)

Rightholders may establish measures to ensure the security of their systems but they should not prevent the application of the exception. Copies generated by text and data mining should be stored securely. Member States may regulate both aspects after negotiation with stakeholders (including, therefore, libraries).


Article 4 allows acts of “reproductions and extractions of lawfully accessible works and other subject matter for the purposes of text and data mining”.

Text and data mining can be done for any purpose and the reproductions “may be retained as long as necessary for the purposes of text and data mining.” Art. 4(2)

The exception benefits all kind of users, institutions or individuals, who have lawful access to contents. That means all the collections of the organisation but also the open web.

This exception, unlike the previous one, can be overridden by contract.

According to art. 4(3) “the exception or limitation shall apply on condition that the use of works […] has not been expressly reserved by their rightholders in an appropriate manner, such as machine-readable means in the case of content made publicly available online”.


  1. Why are these items important to libraries?

An exception for ‘text and data mining’, TDM, as stated in articles 3 and 4 of the EU-DSM Directive, grants libraries the right to mine in copyright works to which they have lawful access.

Text and data mining, TDM, is important for research and academic libraries because this exception allows them to support researchers and other legitimate users from different disciplines to undertake data mining. This support includes giving them access to legally accessed materials, not only on-site but remotely, and with the right to keep secure copies.

There are some aspects of the activity of libraries that can be closely related to text and data mining.

Libraries are supporters of Open Science, as they do with their institutional repositories. Open Science, including, inter alia, open access, open data, and FAIR data, is a loyal friend for TDM. With such a friend, researchers and other legitimate users will successfully carry out automated text and data analysis. Open Science is based on the possibility of checking out researchers’ methods and data. Without the opportunity to look at the datasets used for analysis, other researchers cannot confirm, or disapprove, findings, undermining overall scientific progress.

Libraries are used to work together with IT and Legal Departments. For the sake of an ideal use of the exception in favour of researchers and other legitimate users, libraries can help TDM workflows and infrastructures to be applied and developed.

As beneficiaries of the exception, and as advocates of researchers and other legitimate users from their institutions, libraries can have the necessary power when negotiating with publishers, so the right to mine is not overridden by contracts, and no additional information about the research is requested by publishers. And, as well, ensuring that any technical issues or access-blocking experienced by the institution are resolved quickly. Libraries pay for subscriptions to academic publications, there is no need to pay again to text and data mine contents already subscribed.

Furthermore, with a TDM exception libraries could, in short terms:

–       Perform TDM without requirement to inform or seek permission from publishers

–       Remove or ignore contractual provisions in licenses in conflict with TDM

–       Promote actions (including legal action) if access is blocked and not quickly resolved by the publisher

–       Protect personal data and privacy of researchers and other legitimate users from publisher requests for further information about TDM activities


  1. What is the best implementation you could hope for with these articles?

In short, our aspiration would be that the legal text allows the maximum use of text and data mining techniques for research purposes, and also to the legitimate users; with the only limitation that such uses do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the works and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rightholders.

Specifically, we believe that there are a number of issues that it is important to incorporate or clarify in the law:

Data mining exception should allow acts affecting the right of transformation. It is not always clear when the use of these techniques can affect this right, so the express inclusion of this right would create legal certainty for researchers and legitimate users.

Public communication should also be allowed to enable researchers to carry out text and data mining activities where they have better tools for this, through a remote controlled system. That would prevent them from having to move, for example, to library facilities in order to analyse digitisations of their collections.

It should also ensure that the application of the exception entails the possibility of disseminating the results generated by it provided that such dissemination does not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and does not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author.

With regard to libraries and other cultural heritage institutions, the law should specify that they may use the exception of article 3 to conduct research in the context of their main activities. A restrictive interpretation of the concept of scientific research will make the exception useless for our institutions.

The storage of copies generated by the mining of text and data should be made where the researcher or the legitimate users choose, provided that they are protected against unauthorized access. Moreover, imposing different storage conditions in each European country may be an impediment to the development of cross-border projects.

It must be ensured also that, in the case of technological protection measures, the beneficiaries of the exception may have an extraordinary remedy requiring rightholders, or their intermediaries, to lift such mechanisms within a maximum of 72 hours, including financial penalties in case of non-compliance, where appropriate.

Since the exception (both exceptions of article 3 and 4) should not be subject to fair compensation, it should be ensured that suppliers of works and services do not impose a higher price on their subscription to enable text and data mining activities.

Finally, regarding specifically article 4, and according to the EU-DSM Directive, the law should also ensure that in cases of accessible resources that have been made publicly available online, rightholders can only object to the exception through the use of machine-readable means; otherwise the exception will become useless, as a manual review of terms of use and legal notices of websites cannot be intended.

  1. What is your government’s position on the issue?

We have no information about this aspect at the moment. The government launched a public consultation on December 2019 but they did not expose any kind of explanation or clarification on the positions of the government regarding the transposition of the EU-DSM. As far as we know (https://www.notion.so/Spain-64ff430a3fec4ed2a17895bd82ceb6e8), they will probably publish a draft of the legislative text when the State of Alarm ends.


Available, affordable? An interview with Johanna Anderson about eBooks in Academic Libraries

Much of the discussion about eBooks in libraries focuses on the situation for public libraries. With scholarly publishing having switched to digital formats relatively early, it can be easy to assume that all is well. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing academic libraries to close their doors, it has become clear that this is not the case.

To find out more about the situation, we interviewed Johanna Anderson, an academic librarian and public library advocate from the United Kingdom, to find out more. You can follow Johanna on Twitter.


1. How have you and colleagues experienced the closure of your buildings to the public?
Lectures and teaching were moved online over a week before our libraries were closed. We were not closed until the end of the Tuesday after the government’s instructions to close campuses, and before this saw a bit of a dash to the library by students to get books, laptops etc.

Since then we have been working to try to get alternative ebook titles of key texts not available in electronic format as we can’t get onto campus to do scanning, and have spent hours trawling provider platforms for affordable eBooks. We have also been doing literature search tutorials with students online, and have also compiled a list of additional resources made temporarily available by publishers.

This has taken quite a lot of work as they tend to be on unfamiliar platforms to us and the students. Students already find literature searching complicated so all of these additional platforms and the inherent difference in access limits has added to that complication. We are doing what we can to help students navigate them.

The most difficult thing is making students aware of the resources in the first place as they are pretty swamped with trying to adjust to the changes in circumstances already and they are pretty stressed – not ideal for processing new information

2. How much use was being made of academic eBooks before the crisis? What lay behind this?

It’s hard to get exact figures at the moment due to circumstances but students tend to prefer hardcopy books and our hardcopy stock circulation statistics are very high. This is partly due to the nature of the text heavy courses we deliver, e.g. social sciences and humanities.

Nonetheless, there is demand – where we do have eBooks available they are heavily used. Therefore, for ANY title we have on reading lists we will ALWAYS buy eBooks where possible rather than hardcopy. However, we did do an audit of one of our schools and for our computing courses only 17% of titles on the reading lists were available in electronic format. The figure is far lower on humanity courses.

3. To what extent are eBook versions of texts available for you to buy for the library?

This kind of ties into the above. We are about on par with the figures in the report prepared by UK Copyright Literacy on the value of the Copyright Licencing Agency (CLA)’s licence to UK Higher Education.

This noted, in particular, that “in an audit of most frequently scanned books, of the 904, 902 were recognised by the ProQuest database, and 94 (10%) were identified as ISBNs with an electronic alternative. This chimes with other estimates that only around 10% of current academic titles are available as eBooks.” (pg 24).

The table on page 26 is very useful in illustrating the issues we have with licencing models as it shows that single user licence eBooks dominated scan requests and were also the most available licence when ebook purchasing. The average costs are also pretty depressing.

There is a danger in seeing the CLA licence used to provide key chapters of  books to a large cohort of students, and equating that as a viable alternative to resourcing a library with complete books.

This issue is skimmed over in the report, but for me, this is just not a sensible collection management approach. We do currently make the best use of the CLA licence that we can, but it is not enough.

Of course, eBook versions of texts may be available through publishers’ own platforms, but this is not a realistic option given that we need to offer readers a range of books, from many different publishers. We simply cannot afford to buy into every platform going, so we have to rely on aggregate vendors who are currently not in a position to negotiate reasonable prices that libraries can afford.

4. To what extent have you come across contractual barriers, such as limitations on where copies can be accessed?

Previous to the COVID-19 crisis, eBook purchasing was a nightmare. We have had cases of vendors selling us licences which publishers have then restricted access to or withdrawn, which quite frankly, is disgusting.

A lot of the key texts e.g. research methods ones are not available in ebook format at all as discussed above. Many books, as CLA points out, are single user only books… which are often ten times the price of a hardcopy. Students will not use them if, when they click on a book title, they are told they cannot read it at that time.

Students, and indeed most academics, do not understand the restrictions – it is no surprise as this is so complicated. They think “e” = available to them anytime and anywhere.  We do not have the budgets to buy eBooks whatever the cost, so librarians spend HOURS trawling through complicated licences on different platforms.

Furthermore, the price of eBooks varies wildly with no obvious rhyme or reason.  More recently Taylor and Francis/Routledge have increased the price of their eBooks up to sometimes as much as 10x the original price (as I’ve highlighted on my Twitter feed) and some are starting to introduce “expiry dates” so the licence to a purchased eBook expires after a year. This is perverse!

Moreover, we cannot collectively complain because contract terms prevent us from sharing this sort of information. Who knows what they are charging other universities!

5. To what extent are they affordable? How do they compare to physical versions of the same books

As set out above and in the report about the CLA licence, it is not easy to answer because there is so much variation, not just by publisher but also by discipline.

For example, Sage doesn’t tend to publish things in electronic format (which is very annoying, given that their materials are heavily needed by teaching students etc who spend most of their time on placement). When they do, they tend to be single user licences only, but are a similar price to the hardcopy.

Then you get publishers like Taylor and Francis who will sell a hardcopy book for £30-40, but charge are £400 + for a single user ebook. Incidentally, these same titles were approximately £120-£180 before Christmas, which was already high. Nonetheless, as I said at the beginning, prices vary so much that it is difficult to give a straightforward answer to this one.

6. What reasons have you been given for the high prices?

Publishers say that promoting eBook formats leads to a reduction in their income because multiple hardcopies are no longer purchased, although this seems hard to square with the regular high profits that many of them continue to enjoy. It also makes no sense as we cannot afford these prices even if we wanted to, so I am not buying from them at all! I’m not sure how this will help their bottom line! I am told that much of the process of producing a book is often outsourced in order to reduce costs, so I can’t see how they cost more than hardcopy books.

If there was a single user eBook at the same price as a hardcopy I would buy a couple of licences, and I know that JISC have had some communications with T&F about this

7. Do these make much sense in the current circumstances? 

It doesn’t make sense in any circumstances. This has just magnified the issue! I have been complaining for months. People are only taking note now as it is making a difficult situation worse. Taylor and Francis announced to much fanfare that they are going to allow libraries to buy their single user eBooks with temporary unlimited access. This is no help at all as we still can’t afford them! I also have no intention of being stuck with single user ebooks I had to pay hundreds for after all of this. It just isn’t practical.

8. What impact does this have on you in your job, and on your budgets?

It has been very frustrating and stressful… things are tricky enough already! Students panicked and rushed to the library to get hardcopy texts before we shut down, which is absolutely what should not have had to happen in the current circumstances. As I have already said, I have spent hours and hours trying to find alternative eBooks, often to no avail. Taylor and Francis have not made their pricing more reasonable so I can see eBooks are there but I cannot buy them. It’s so frustrating!

There is a myth, particularly among university management, that everything is available in electronic format. This is often used as a reason for the reduction of physical space in libraries, but it really is not the reality. When things ARE available in electronic format the publishers can change the terms or withdraw items and there isn’t anything we can do about it. Currently, we simply do not have the negotiating power to change this.


Wikipedia and Academic Libraries: Gathering best practices of professionals

IFLA welcomes Laurie Bridges (Oregon State University), Raymond Pun (Alder Graduate School of Education) and Roberto Arteaga (Pacific Lutheran University), three library professionals to talk about their book project to link Wikipedia and academic libraries.


Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Laurie Bridges (she/her/hers), I am an Instruction and Outreach Librarian at Oregon State University and Associate Professor. I am currently teaching a 2-credit Honors class about Wikipedia and social justice, this is my second time teaching the class. I developed the curriculum and taught it for the first time in the Spring of 2019. I have co-hosted two Wikipedia editathons at my university. I work with a couple of faculty on my campus to help facilitate successful Wikipedia editing assignments (a history course and a writing course). I co-authored two articles in the Journal of Academic Librarianship:

I’m Raymond Pun (he/him/his), a librarian in the Alder Graduate School of Education in California, USA. I’ve organized and participated in Wikipedia-edit-ahons before. I’ve collaborated with teaching faculty in the sciences, women’s studies, and ethnic studies to create opportunities for students to learn about online sources, and the need to engage with online reference materials more critically.

I’m Roberto Arteaga (he/him). I’m an assistant professor and instruction and reference librarian at Pacific Lutheran University. I joined this project after having conversations with Laurie about Wikipedia in relation to library instruction and for-credit courses. I’m just beginning my Wikipedia journey, and I’m particularly interested in developing more pedagogical approaches to teaching with Wikipedia, both in library contexts and beyond.

Librarians collaborated with Wikipedians old and new to improve articles related to Multnomah County, Oregon.
Pdx.leecat – CC BY-SA 3.0

You are developing an open access book project on Wikimedia projects and academic libraries, how did this project get started? 

Laurie: As I was doing research for my courses and articles I used Merrilee Proffitt’s book, “Leveraging Wikipedia,” which is a great introduction for all libraries and librarians. However, it was missing what I really wanted, an in-depth look into academic libraries and librarians and how they’re using Wikipedia. I started chatting with Ray Pun about this, and from here the idea grew.

Ray: Yes, I agree with Laurie! For the events that I’ve organized with faculty, it was important to have students from underrepresented groups contribute to Wikipedia using library resources. Less than 15% of contributors to Wikipedia were women, based on a survey in 2015. In addition, there is under-representation of content on Wikipedia about women and other minority groups and their perspectives and experiences so that’s where I collaborated with academics to address these issues. Wikipedia is one of the most visited websites and it is very important to add and improve its content.

Laurie: And, around the time I was chatting with Ray about this, Roberto reached out to me, he was considering doing a Wikipedia project in one of his classes and wanted to chat. After our video conversation, in which Roberto asked thoughtful and thought-provoking questions, I started thinking he might be the perfect third to a possible editing team. I talked with Ray and we decided to invite Roberto to join us. I really enjoy working in groups of three.

Wikipedia training session in the framework of 1Lib1Ref with 9 librarians and information science professionals in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Jacquitoz – CC BY-SA 4.0


Could you tell us more about the subjects that will be addressed in this book and why?

Ray: Roberto and Laurie created a website covering the subjects in the book that would be of interest to many people. We hope the book covers case studies coming from theoretical and pedagogical approaches. We are looking for academic library workers to share how they utilize Wikipedia content to promote information literacy, collaboration or research.

Laurie: I have several librarian contacts in Spain, and I was aware that some interesting things were being done with Wikipedia in the Catalonia region. Then, serendipitously I received a grant to attend the Wikimedia + Education conference in San Sebastian, the Basque region in Spain. It was during the conference that I learned librarians in the Basque region are also doing some unique activities. And, during the conference, I really began to think about how librarians around the world are probably doing fascinating things with Wikipedia that are not shared widely, beyond the local region or country. I thought an open access online book might be the best way to collaborate and share information across borders and around the world.


Wikipedia workshop at the Faculty of Medicine on the Leios-Biscay campus in the Basque Country. Theklan – CC BY-SA 4.0


Black history month in Nigeria in partnership with AfroCROWD Kaizenify – CC BY-SA 4.0


According to you, what common goals are there between Wikimedia Foundation’s projects and academic libraries?

Roberto: I would say that just like the Wikimedia Foundation, libraries, in general, are committed to facilitating access to information to their communities. While libraries are often bound by contracts with publishers that prevent from fully opening up resources to everyone, librarians are now, more than ever, beginning to advocate for more content to become more widely available and reduce the content kept behind paywalls.

Ray: Agreed! It is especially important, particularly now during the pandemic. As it has been reported, COVID-19’s Wikipedia page has been one of the most visited sites. Creating more works under open access (OA) will certainly help.


Can you tell us more about the open access model and why you choose it? 

Ray: Early in our planning stages, we went with an open access model because we felt that OA would give us and our contributors the flexibility to share their work with colleagues. We envisioned some of our chapters to be multilingual and wanted to enable access to such content. Wikipedia itself is open and for us, it was important to follow that approach.

Laurie: Wikipedia is radically open. Not only do you see the article, but you see the “talk” tab where the conversation is happening, you see the history tab, and you can see contributors’ history over time. One of the reasons Wikipedia is so popular is because it’s available for free, to everyone, anywhere (Of course, there’s censorship, but that’s another story.) Therefore, we felt it was important to have a book that is open and free to librarians.


Finally, what would be your recommendations for libraries wishing to develop Wiki projects?

Laurie: I can answer this question because I just co-authored an article about Wikipedia in libraries for educational use (you can see the post print here). I recommend reaching out and connecting with others, because there is a wealth of knowledge and people are eager to share their successes and failures. Many librarians start with the #1lib1ref campaign, which is low-stakes and easy to get involved with – you just need to add one citation to Wikipedia.

Another popular activity is editathons, happening everywhere in the world. I think the most popular topic for librarian editathons is Art + Feminism. It’s important to note that in-person editathons have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, but there are many remote editathons taking place. In the US and Canada, faculty members can run classes through the WikiEdu dashboard, and librarians can connect with professors who are using the dashboard and offer their expertise. For librarians outside of the US, you can connect with the Wikimedia Education team to find resources in your area.

How can anyone interested find out more?

You can find more information here: https://sites.google.com/view/globalwikipedia/


The Good, The Bad and (Avoiding) the Ugly: A Way Forwards on the Copyright Directive

Discussions around the European Union’s draft Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market are as tense as ever. Strong divisions have emerged between and among Member States and Members of the European Parliament around controversial proposals for a new press publishers’ right (Article 11) and an (effective) obligation on internet platforms to filter content (Article 13).

These disagreements stand in contrast to the consensus that has emerged around other provisions in the Directive, which will help libraries and cultural heritage institutions in their work to promote innovation, support education and enable preservation and access to heritage.

Such measures, in line with the EU’s own international obligations, cause no unreasonable prejudice to rightholders, and indeed will support creativity and discovery.

The fear must be that a failure to find agreement on Articles 11 and 13 will lead to calls for the rejection of the Directive as a whole. This would be a huge loss for innovation, education and heritage in Europe, and would be hard to explain to Europe’s voters, given the public support for such measures received from all sides of the debate so far.

This blog offers more detail on the situation so far, and sets out the case for avoiding this worst-case scenario.


The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. ACJ1, CC-BY-NC-SA https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/4684652569The Good – Achievements So Far

The draft Directive already contains a lot of good. Starting from a reasonably positive base in September 2016, discussions among MEPs and Member States have led to improvements in provisions around text and data mining, teaching, preservation, and out-of-commerce-works – Articles 3-9.

If these elements of the Directive pass, EU citizens will:

  • Be able to engage much more easily in text and data mining. This will provide a significant boost to research into Artificial Intelligence in particular, at a time when Europe risks being left behind other countries who have been far more ready to update their legislation.
  • Have more opportunities to learn using digital tools, including in libraries. This will further democratise education, and help ensure that everyone can continue to learn throughout life.
  • Continue to enjoy access to Europe’s cultural heritage into the future, thanks to changes that will give libraries and cultural heritage institutions the clear right to take digital copies of books and other materials for preservation purposes.
  • Gain new access to works which are in-copyright but out-of-commerce, and so otherwise can only be found within the walls of libraries.

This is a good result, in and of itself. It will offer important clarity to libraries and cultural heritage institutions and allow them to fulfil their missions in the digital age. It will break down one of the most significant barriers to realising the potential of text and data mining, a Commission priority since 2012.

Moreover, given the EU’s own international obligations under the Berne Convention, it will not cause any unreasonable prejudice to authors. Instead, today’s authors will benefit from wider discovery of their work, including the rediscovery of works which are no longer in print. The authors of tomorrow will find it easier to read, study and innovate.

This is not to mention other elements of the text on the table that will provide additional rights to authors, including the possibility to reclaim rights and to benefit from greater transparency about revenues made on the basis of their work.

These provisions have enjoyed a large degree of consensus, with agreement relatively early on in discussions between Parliament and Council. Stakeholders from all sides of the discussion have been ready to signal their support for these steps, or at least their readiness to accept them.


The Bad – Sticking Points

However, it has long been clear that not all of the Directive is consensual. The two most contentious elements – Articles 11 and 13 – look to create new rights or rules for situations which are arguably specific to individual markets, and indeed individual providers – the situation of newspapers faced with GoogleNews, and of record companies faced with YouTube.

As has been argued repeatedly, the proposals on the table – a new right over very short fragments of text from newspapers, and an obligation on all online platforms to filter content uploaded by users – are likely to make the problem worse.

Not only will they strengthen the hand of the existing dominant players (who are best placed to negotiate with content producers, introduce filters or make payments), but they risk causing major collateral damage, for example to educational and scientific repositories run by libraries.

It is therefore unsurprising that there is so much disagreement about these articles.

Most recently, and just days after the agreement of a new Treaty between the countries, France and Germany disagreed about whether smaller internet platforms should be excused from the obligation to filter all user content for potential copyright infringement.

Even though this particular dispute has been agreed, there are many more still open, underlining how flawed the approach to these articles currently is.

In short, while there is support for effective ways of sustaining high quality journalism and curtailing illicit uses, the proposals on the table are not the answer.


The Ugly – The Nuclear Option

There are crucial meetings due in the coming days which aim to find a way forwards. Steps have been made to create some minor flexibilities in Articles 11 and 13, for example to reduce the burden on small platforms, as well as limited protections for the educational and scientific repositories that support open access and open educational resources.

Friends scene. Source: https://devrant.com/rants/1546587/this-will-happen-in-java-when-you-declare-the-class-with-wrong-nameHowever, there are already complaints from some who had previously supported Articles 11 and 13, who are unwilling to accept anything less than the highly flawed original proposals.

Most worryingly, these calls are accompanied by demands to reject the entire Directive.

This would be the worst of all worlds. All of the progress already made to date on Articles 3-9 would be at risk, despite already having been subject to consensus. The years of work that have gone into these would potentially be lost, and with it an opportunity to support clear public interest goals in Europe.

As an election approaches, it would be difficult to explain to voters why a flagship piece of legislation has been sunk, merely because there was disagreement on one part.

It is therefore time to reflect on the value of delaying those parts of the Directive which are clearly not yet mature, and proceeding with those that are. This would allow the European Union to chalk up a useful ‘win’.

Instead of rushed discussions now, a full and holistic discussion on how to achieve these goals, reviewing all relevant policy tools, is needed, and could be a useful job for the next Parliament.

Trends in copyright for libraries: what’s coming up this year? (Part 2)

Graphic for Day 5 of Copyright Week 2019

We started Copyright Week 2019 with a blog post on Monday about specific copyright reforms that are ongoing and upcoming in 2019. These copyright reforms show some common trends, so today we are closing the week by looking into that.

In the framework of Copyright Week 2019, we also explored some specific topics more in depth: on Tuesday, Libraries, eBook ownership and Lending; on Wednesday, the Public Domain, Privatised Knowledge, and Libraries; and on Thursday, Safe Harbours and Libraries. You can also have a look at what other organisations have been writing about during copyright week.

There are many interesting matters worth talking about, but since the list would be too long, we have picked six highlights to get you ready for a 2019 full of copyright for libraries. Feel free to share your thoughts on top trends for this year using the comments box.

  1. The Marrakesh Treaty in practice

After its adoption in 2013, the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled has been ratified or acceded to in 48 countries. Many countries – but far from all – have also made changes to their national laws to effectively implement Marrakesh Treaty provisions. It will be important for libraries to maintain the momentum in national reform.

With that in place, we are hopeful that 2019 will be the year in which we will start to see the dream of the Marrakesh Treaty realised: more access to knowledge for people with print disabilities, notably through cross-border exchanges of works in an accessible format.

To help with questions that will arise around the practicalities of the Treaty, IFLA has created the Getting Started Guide. It seeks to assist librarians in countries where Marrakesh provisions are in place on key questions around the production and exchange of accessible format copies. The guide is meant to be adapted to national legislation, which colleagues from Spain and Croatia have kindly already done. You can access the existing versions and translations on the IFLA website, and of course don’t hesitate to offer your own!

IFLA is also keeping an up-to-date overview of which countries are moving towards effective implementation of the Marrakesh provisions in their national law, including through allowing cross-border exchange of accessible format copies.

  1. The value gap

The European draft copyright directive’s Article 13 has brought copyright concerns closer to the end user: some have suggested that it will change the internet as we know it. Article 13 would make platforms directly liable for infringing content uploaded by users unless they implement prior filtering obligations to prevent such content getting online (even terrorist legislation gives platforms an hour to spot illicit content). It also aims to force the signature of blanket licence agreements with rightholders for online use of their content.

Although IFLA’s main focus is to ensure that library repositories and other not-for-profit platforms are not negatively affected, IFLA does not remain silent vis-à-vis the threat that it represents to freedom of expression and freedom of access to information.

With this copyright reform still to be concluded, rightsholders elsewhere are pushing for similar policies. However, is there enough evidence of such a gap? Is a solution based in copyright the best option? Are there not risks of weakening safe harbour provisions? If it mainly targets YouTube, will it be fit for purpose on other platforms? Is it not better to address competition issues with competition policy?

With several copyright reforms coming up in 2019, it is worth questioning the adequacy of such a system, in case decision-makers consider it elsewhere.

  1. 2019: Year of indigenous languages

The United Nations declared 2019 the Year of Indigenous Languages. It is a unique opportunity to bring interested parties together and raise awareness of the cultural and historical value of indigenous languages, as a key part of indigenous knowledge.

Back in 2014, IFLA already underlined the “intrinsic value and importance of indigenous traditional knowledge and local community knowledge, and the need to consider it holistically in spite of contested conceptual definitions and uses” in its statement.

Libraries’ involvement is key through preservation and access to such information. That is why IFLA will be celebrating the Year of Indigenous Languages through monthly blog posts exploring the topic from several perspectives. Stay tuned for more on this blog!

In the meantime, the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore is working towards text-based discussions for international instruments both on the topic of traditional knowledge and cultural expression.

We look forward to further engaging on the matter throughout 2019.

  1. Open Access and Open Science

Libraries subscribe to more and more digital content, while at the same time, the cost of subscriptions seems to be going up in many countries around the world. Library budgets are therefore tightened, and consequently reduce the freedom that librarians have in the choice of collections.

In 2018, we saw universities and consortia in many countries cancel big subscription deals with publishers. An international group of research funders released Plan S, which “requires that, from 2020, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms”.

Many more initiatives around the world are moving towards the direction of full open access. We are hopeful that we will see much more of these initiatives throughout 2019. A key priority will be to make the library voice – and interest – heard in the discussions.

  1. Librarians as advocates

Access to information is fundamental, and more, or a stricter copyright, risks harming it. Librarians need to raise their voice and have an active role in copyright discussions.

It might seem obvious that in any copyright reform, decision-makers should be careful not to harm, and should even enhance, access to information, which is in the interest of all. However, there is a lobby arguing to the contrary (as recent research from Corporate Observatory Europe has shown) with a strong influence in copyright policies. As a negative unintended consequence, the possibilities for libraries to preserve and give access to knowledge in the digital age, and the interests of users, may be hampered.

In many countries, librarians are already involved in working groups with the ministries or government offices responsible of copyright. In others, they are coming together through library associations and campaigns to have a say in copyright changes.

We should reach a situation in which librarians are consulted by default when copyright is to be amended, and in which librarians are confident to speak in this regard.

The interests we defend are legitimate, and we should not wait for someone else to defend them. If we do not say it, no one will.

  1. Getting the facts in order

Very linked to the previous points is the fact that in copyright reforms, we hear all kinds of arguments to defend positions that will restrict or harm the interests of libraries and their users. Librarians need to have the facts and the arguments at their fingertips.

In the South African copyright reform, which is close to an end, librarians and other user rights defenders have had to make an important effort to fight misleading arguments against fair use. In the Canadian copyright reform’s recent consultation, there has also been a need to argue why fair dealing is not causing a loss of revenue to the publishing industry.

Some other examples of recurrent arguments are: Licensing (and collective licensing) offers a solution to all problems; library lending has a negative effect on book sales; flexible copyright is harmful to authors, and more protection is the answer; and exceptions and limitations to copyright lead to piracy and deprive creators from adequate remuneration. We need to be able to respond.


We hope the above ideas are helpful guides – do share your own below, we look forward to reading them!