Tag Archives: Digital Preservation

“What is in the public domain should stay in the public domain!” – Article 14 of the EU-DSM Directive

by Timotej Kotnik Jesih, Intellectual Property Institute, www.ipi.si and Dr. Maja Bogataj Jančič, Intellectual Property Institute (IPI), www.ipi.si

The new Digital Single Market Directive (hereinafter the DSM Directive)[1] addresses works of visual art in the public domain in its Article 14, which reads “Member States shall provide that, when the term of protection of a work of visual art has expired, any material resulting from an act of reproduction of that work is not subject to copyright or related rights, unless the material resulting from that act of reproduction is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation.”

This article was introduced by the European Parliament as an amendment during the legislative process with the intention of enhancing cultural heritage preservation by relying on the legal concept of public domain. Its aim is to ensure that works of visual art that are in the public domain in analogue form remain in the public domain also in digital form, by not granting copyright protection to faithful reproductions of such works. Reproduction of visual works in the public domain can, pursuant to Article 14 DSM Directive, be granted copyright protection only when they fulfil the originality threshold themselves. The rationale for this provision is explained in the DSM Directive’s Recital 53, as “[t]he expiry of the term of protection of work entails the entry of that work into the public domain” and “the circulation of faithful reproductions of works in the public domain contributes to the access to and promotion of culture, and the access to cultural heritage“, whereas in the digital environment, “the protection of such reproductions through copyright or related rights is inconsistent with the expiry of the copyright protection of works“.

Article 14 DSM Directive increases the level of legal security for libraries and other cultural heritage institutions (CHIs) when they use public domain works of visual art in cultural heritage preservation activities, as faithful reproductions of such works sometimes otherwise enjoy protection by related rights, even if they do not meet the copyright-required originality threshold. Article 14 enables libraries to be able to make visual works from their collections (that are in the public domain) available online and in a digital format, without the fear of such works having to be taken down. With the good implementation in national legal systems, Article 14 will hopefully provide the tool for libraries to expand and facilitate the access to works in the public domain and improve cultural heritage preservation across the whole of EU.

Despite Article 14 being one of the most unambiguous provisions in the DSM Directive, there is still some leeway for libraries and CHIs to try and ensure the best possible implementation of this provision.[2] While Article 14 explicitly applies only to works of visual arts, there is nothing preventing the member states from implementing a broader provision, covering any type of works. Such implementation would further improve cultural heritage preservation, as the issue of appropriation of public domain works and protecting non-original reproductions is certainly not limited only to visual works.

In Slovenia, the DSM Directive implementation process started in March 2020 when the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology (hereinafter the Ministry) invited interested stakeholders to convene and conduct a public debate. After the COVID-19 pandemic prevented any in-person consultations, the Ministry called upon interested stakeholders to provide written submissions on how to best implement the DSM Directive in Slovenian legal order by April 30, 2020, which were then published online and all stakeholders were invited to submit a second round of comments by 30 June 2020. We are now waiting for the publication of second-round comments and publication of the first draft of the legislative proposal.

Many public interest institutions in Slovenia participated in this process: research institutions, educational institutions, NGOs and CHIs. Several libraries and CHIs across Slovenia submitted their comments addressing also the Article 14.[3] In their submissions, they emphasised Art 14’s importance as a public domain safeguard and called for implementation that encompasses all types of works, not only those of visual art, and that would ensure that copyright protection is not granted to faithful reproductions notwithstanding whether they were made before or after the original work was already in public domain.

Stakeholders have not disputed such position on Article 14 implementation so far, which may showcases that in Slovenia there is a high level of awareness of importance of public domain works for cultural heritage preservation and that broad implementation of Article 14 is desirable and necessary in order for libraries and other CHIs to perform their cultural heritage preservation functions adequately. While it remains to be seen which route the Slovenian legislator, which usually provides for an expansive and strong protection of stakeholders, will take when implementing Article 14 CDSM Directive, the early signs are encouraging for libraries and other CHIs, and they can reasonably expect to be able to rely on works in public domain in a broadest possible way.

[1] Directive (EU) 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market and amending Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2019/790/oj; last visite July 2020;

[2] see also Communia Guidelines: https://www.notion.so/Article-14-Works-of-visual-art-in-the-public-domain-eb1d5900a10e4bf4b99d7e91b4649c86 and Transposing the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market: A Guide for Libraries and Library Associations (LIBER): https://zenodo.org/record/3552203#.Xx_hjy2B3OR, last visited July 2020

[3] Positions of stakeholders are available here (in Slovenian)https://www.gov.si/novice/2020-06-05-prenos-direktiv-s-podrocja-avtorskega-prava/, last visited in July 2020;

Preservation of Heritage: Article 6 of the EU-DSM by Renata Petrušić

Renata Petrušić, senior librarian at the Croatian Digital Library Development Centre of the Croatian Institute for Librarianship, National and University Library in Zagreb. Responsible for copyright and licencing issues, access and rights management.

1. Can you explain to us what article 6 of the EU-DSM Directive contains?

Article 6 refers to the preservation of cultural heritage. It contains a mandatory exception that allows cultural heritage institutions to make, in any format or medium, preservation copies of all works that they have permanently in their collections.

Recitals 25-29 of the EU-DSM Directive provide details of the scope and objective of Article 6. They state that, in order to achieve preservation goals, cultural heritage institution are allowed to establish cross-border preservation networks, enabling cross-border cooperation and sharing of means of preservation. Recital 29 provides a broad definition of works that are considered to be permanently in the collection of a cultural heritage institution, including works that are “result of a transfer of ownership or a licence agreement, legal deposit obligations or permanent custody arrangements”. In addition, Article 7 stipulates that contractual provision contrary to the exceptions are unenforceable and that technological protection measures should not prevent the creation of preservation copies.

2. Why is this provision important to libraries?

Ensuring the preservation and accessibility of works from their collections for this and future generations have always been the fundamental mission of libraries. In order to achieve this mission, libraries and other cultural heritage institutions need a clear legal framework adapted to the digital age. It is essential to have legislation that allows libraries to take all necessary steps in order to carry out their duties and fulfil a public purpose.

Given that under copyright law, authors have the exclusive right of reproduction, it is crucial to have an exemption to copyright protection which allows libraries to make preservation copies of works without the need to seek permission from the copyright holder. Such an exemption must apply to all types of works or another subject-matter that libraries own or permanently have in their collections, to all formats and media. It is particularly important to emphasize that technical protection measures and contractual provisions must not affect the possibility of making preservation copies.

Although most European countries already have legal provisions that allow acts of reproduction for preservation incorporated in their national laws, inconsistency in the current legal provisions of  EU Member States brings legal uncertainty to preservation efforts carried out by cultural heritage institutions and their partners. Not all libraries have the technical resources and required expertise to carry out preservation programmes and they in that regard need to rely on external contractors and partners. The new mandatory exception will harmonize this exception across the EU, allowing libraries to cooperate across borders, use preservation networks and work with third parties when making preservation copies.

3. What is the best implementation Libraries could hope for with this article?

The provisions of Article 6 are a welcome addition to European legislation ensuring the improvement and harmonisation of exceptions relating to the preservation of cultural heritage throughout the EU. The adoption of the provisions of Article 6 and the definitions in the Recitals as they are set out in the Directive, would ensure that libraries are allowed to:

make preservation copies of all the works from their collections (by the appropriate preservation tool, means or technology, in any format or medium, in the required number, at any point in the life of a work),

– cooperate cross-border,

– share the means of preservation,

– rely on third parties for the making of copies,

– establish cross-border preservation networks,

– make sure that contractual provisions and technological protection measures do not prevent preservation of works.

However, it is possible to go beyond what is set out in the Directive. Ideally, broader exceptions would include permission to make copies of works for all internal uses in libraries, such as indexing and cataloguing, and other activities necessary for management of collection.

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

Croatia is one of the first EU Member States to introduce a proposal of the transposition of the EU-DSM Directive into national law. A public consultation on the Draft Proposal on Copyright and Related Rights Act was conducted from April to May 2020. The proposed Bill received more than 730 comments. The government is now in the process of preparing a report on the consultation.

The current Croatian Copyright and Related Rights Act includes an exception benefiting cultural heritage institutions to reproduce copyrighted works from their own copy to any media for the purposes of preservation and safeguarding.

The new proposal of the Croatian Copyright and Related Rights Act implements the provisions of Article 6 as they are prescribed by the Directive. Article 182 of the proposed Croatian Copyright Law closely follows the wording of  Article 6, stating that “cultural heritage institutions […] are authorized, without the approval of the right holder and without payment of remuneration, to reproduce copyrighted works and related rights that are a permanent part of their collections, in any format or on any medium, for the purpose of their preservation and to the extent necessary for that purpose”. The same article also states that contractual provisions that are contrary to this exception are null and void, and defines the types of works that are considered to be part of the collections of cultural heritage institutions (as they are defined in Recital 29 of the Directive).

Importantly, proposed Croatian Law has retained the provisions of the current law that go beyond what is allowed in Article 6 of the Directive. Article 184 of the proposed Croatian Law, which refers to exceptions of the reproduction rights, for benefit of particular institutions, states that cultural heritage institutions “may, without the authorisation of the right holder and without payment of remuneration, reproduce a copyrighted work or another subject-matter […], on any medium, for their special needs that are in accordance with their public purposes, such as the needs of preservation and safeguarding of the materials, technical restoration and reparation of the materials, collection management and other own needs, if not acquiring thereby any direct or indirect commercial benefit”.




Something Old, Something New: COVID-19’s effect on documentary heritage professionals

The shock of cultural institutions shuttering is beginning to wear off. The world of social distancing might begin feeling like the new normal, even as, depending where in the world you are, there is talk of memory institutions re-opening.

For the past months, we have been living in a world without cultural institutions as public spaces.  We’ve seen museums close their doors, libraries exploring online engagement, and many cultural professionals furloughed or navigating their work from home.

Through this crisis, UNESCO maintains the importance of culture, including a call for greater support to documentary heritage during COVID-19, co-signed by IFLA.

How is the crisis affecting the professionals that are working to preserve and provide access to the world’s cultural heritage? We’ve reached out to documentary heritage practitioners in our international network of Preservation and Conversation (PAC) Centres to reflect on their experience of working through the pandemic.

Q: How have stay-at-home measures affected the preservation work at your institution?

 Library of Congress, USA

Stay-at-home guidance has had a major, and predictable, impact on our work with the physical collections. We have had to stop conservation treatments and laboratory research, along with our collections maintenance projects like shelf reading and condition surveys. We are fortunate to have dedicated staff who are able to make weekly rounds in our storage areas to ensure collections are safe, which has paid off several times. The weather is not on lockdown and accidents can always happen.

Many of our digital preservation activities are not only active, but have taken on special significance. We are working on COVID web archiving projects along with several international partners, for example. Our digital resources, and the infrastructures for preservation and access that support them, are more in demand than ever. Our digital content management projects continue more or less as before.


National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS), Trinidad and Tobago:

 Trinidad and Tobago has taken emergency measures to curtail the spread of Covid-19. A Stay-at-Home order has been in effect since 27 March with only essential services asked to report to work.

The National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) has closed its facilities to the public, ramping up its online services and permitting only designated staff access to the National Library Building which houses the Heritage Library and the Preservation Lab.

The hands-on work of conservation and preservation, that is, the direct work with collections – the assessment, diagnostic and treatment phases, as well as cataloguing and digitization – have all been placed on hold.


Library for Foreign Literature, Russia:

The mayor of Moscow announced a regime of self-isolation from 30 March to 1 May.

During this period, only organisations and business that cannot stop their activities due to production and technical conditions, those providing citizens with essential goods, those providing warehousing and logistics services, emergency response, and construction are able to continue working. Therefore, until 1 May, the Center for the Conservation and Restoration of Documents at the Russian Library for Foreign Literature does not work. It is not yet clear whether such instructions will be extended.

The regime of self-isolation was introduced gradually, at first only for a week, and then extended. It was therefore difficult to prepare for it.

It’s important to note that the situation differs between Russian regions. For example, our colleagues from Siberia are making videos instructing readers on how to repair books themselves.


National Library and Documentation Service Board of Sri Lanka:

 The lockdown in Sri Lanka has certainly affected the preservation work at the National Library. The National Library has completely closed for staff and visitors from 23 March.


National Library of Australia:

We are continuing preservation work at the National Library of Australia through a variety of means, namely those staff working from home are working on procedure review updating processes and completing research that often we don’t get time to do as part of our day-to-day business.

Two tasks we are looking into are a complete review of our care and handling training we provide Library staff and researching new approaches to exhibition furniture and material off-gassing needs.


Q: Is your team working remotely, still on location, or a mix of the two?

 National Diet Library, Japan:

In Tokyo, people are asked to stay home but it isn’t as strict as in some other countries for now. Staff in the preservation division of the National Diet Library are split between remote working and on-location.  About one third of staff members work at home or take a day off in rotation.


Library of Congress, USA: 

We are almost entirely remote agency-wide, though the details vary group by group. We do have essential staff on site to ensure the safety of the buildings and collections, but the number is strictly limited and they are scheduled to minimize contact.

About half the Preservation staff have full time telework projects to carry us through the next several months, and others have part-time projects or training they can complete online.

Our digital content management staff have shifted to full telework mode, with some significant adjustments having been made to allow teamwork to continue using a variety of tools to support remote collaboration.


National Library of Australia:

 Our Digital Preservation team is working solely from home which has impact on their technical ability to process collection items. All of this work continues, just a little more slowly. Some work, such as the processing of obsolete carriers, has pretty much ceased.

The rest of the lab team is working on a roster system, part of the week at home, the other at work. This enables our core treatment work to continue and provide support to the Library’s digitisation programme. While the Library building is closed, we have also taken the opportunity to undertake a comprehensive condition report and clean of all objects on permanent display. This task otherwise gets scheduled into the small hours before the building opens to the public or after hours, so it is a good opportunity to do this now.

It also provides the team with good social distancing opportunities as we aim to have a Team A working in the morning, Team B in the afternoon.


Q: What work has been possible to achieve? How have priorities shifted during this time?

National Diet Library Japan:

Naturally, conservation works are slowing down, as conservators cannot take library books home, but haven’t stopped. We will need to cancel or postpone training workshops and other events unless the situation improves dramatically.


Library of Congress, USA: 

First and foremost, in times like these we are very much the Library of Congress, with many of staff fully engaged in providing information to our legislators to support their work in the face of this pandemic. I am sure that many of our colleagues in IFLA national and parliamentary libraries are doing the same and it certainly makes me proud of our profession.

This period has allowed many preservation staff a welcome opportunity to dig into research and to do thoughtful, uninterrupted work to create research guides and educational materials, or to work on complex problems.

This crisis has been valuable in helping us stress-test both our priorities and our procedures. So, while our ultimate goals and major priorities remain, we have learned a great deal about how to achieve them. I see this as a good time to ask which processes were resilient and which need to be refined, retired, or redesigned.


NALIS, Trinidad and Tobago:

Even though direct work with the collections have been paused, staff are focussed on outreach and professional development. Outreach efforts are being ramped up via social media outlets with events such as tutorials on preserving family heirlooms, pictures and documents and other community engagements planned via Facebook and the NALIS website.

Events such as ‘this day in history’ for Trinidad and Tobago are ongoing and online tours of our large catalogue of exhibits and displays are also planned. Programmes that would have been held, such as our First Time Authors, celebrating newly published authors in commemoration of World Book and Copyright Day, will now be featured online.

Some consultative work is still being done, but these pertain to collaborative projects in train before the shut down and these are via the usual communication media and a limited reference service is in effect using NALIS’ online heritage resources and askNalis facility.

One of NALIS’ priorities has always been the financial sustainability of the PAC Lab and the preservation projects and efforts. It is even more so now in the straightened economic circumstances that would exist in a world battling with the pandemic.


Library for Foreign Literature, Russia:

At the moment, there is a process of editing the translation of IFLA guidelines and working on the National Program for the Preservation of Library Collections. Due to the fact that restorers cannot work remotely, the focus was shifted towards methodological activities.


National Library and Documentation Service Board of Sri Lanka:

 The National Library has strengthened digital services during lock down period. This includes assistance offered to our communities via the telephone, and on social media like the National Library Facebook page.


National Library of Australia:

We are maintaining some focus on our main treatment programmes but these will experience delays because of the reduced time at the bench to undertake treatments.

We have been able to address a lot of tasks we just never got to previously and as discussed above – procedure review, some professional reading. Digital preservation work continues – just at a slower than normal rate due to the technological issues of working off site.  

Q: What comes next? Has there been discussion in your region over what will come next for preservation, or over lasting changes to the field after COVID-19?


National Diet Library Japan:

We haven’t yet discussed possible changes to our work after COVID-19, but I am not expecting any significant changes for preservation.


Library of Congress, USA: 

The initial deliberations about how to reopen are starting and preservation experts have been important contributors to the working groups on this topic. The Institute for Museum and Library Services has convened several Federal agencies, including the Library of Congress, to work with medical and public health experts to develop guidance for the field.

In preservation, there is always a long future to look forward to. The Library of Congress is celebrating its 220th anniversary this month and we look forward to sharing our beautiful spaces and great collections for another 220 years and beyond.


NALIS, Trinidad and Tobago:

The NALIS PAC Lab – as an IFLA PAC Centre – has reached out to its regional partners in the form of a simple survey to discuss preservation in the time of COVID-19. We are awaiting feedback.


Library for Foreign Literature, Russia:

At the moment, this is unknown. However, I think that work will continue ahead in the usual manner.

We collect information about the processing of books after the pandemic, but for ourselves we have so far revealed the main idea – two-week quarantine is universal, safe for books and does not cost a lot of money.


National Library and Documentation Service Board of Sri Lanka:

The National Library has issued guidelines regarding the exit strategy from COVID-19 for libraries in Sri Lanka.


National Library of Australia:

I don’t believe there has been any discussion about what next, as the Australian community is still in the ‘what to do now’ phase. The latest from the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) is available here.  At this stage, I have not heard anything in relation to changes regarding digital preservation.


In conclusion

Documentary heritage professionals are facing varying degrees of stay-at-home measures around the world. Despite setbacks and the limited access to materials, work has been able to continue.

Providing support to government, reflecting on processes, diving into research and methodological work, and shifting the focus to digital communications are examples of how professionals keep preservation and access to documentary heritage moving ahead through the pandemic.

As the focus shifts from “what to do now” to “what comes next”, it is vital that this work is allowed to continue forward and develop in a positive direction thanks to the lessons we have learned during this time.

In the words of the PAC Centre at the Library of Congress, USA, “In preservation, there is always a long future to look forward to”.

We look forward to navigating the post-COVID-19 world with access and preservation of cultural heritage continuing to be upheld as a priority.


Catching up on Copyright: Current Global Trends in Legal Reform

As will have been highlighted by many of the posts made today – World Copyright Day (23 April), copyright has had a major influence on the way the modern creative industries have emerged.

It has spread way beyond its beginnings in the early 18th century as a limited protection lasting just 14 years, and now reaches into almost every corner of our lives.

It is so powerful, indeed, that even from the beginning of international law-making in the area, it was recognised that it should not be absolute. Just as it enabled authors and creators – or often the companies that bought and traded their rights – to earn a living, it could also bring dangers.

Copyright legislators have therefore sought to intervene in order to help the system work most efficiently. This comes both in terms of finding ways to simplify the way the system works where it is appropriate to charge for access to – or use of – works, and to create and enforce exceptions there would otherwise be market failure.

So how have things been developing since the last World Copyright Day? Below we set out a few trends:


Sorting out the Basics: despite these being seemingly core elements of free speech, it’s not in every country that there is the possibility freely to quote someone else, or to carry out criticism, make jokes, or review. The lack of such rules can allow copyright too easily to become a tool of censorship and control.

Fortunately, there have been steps forwards in Kenya and Myanmar (which previously was working with a law from 1911 inherited from the colonial period). In both countries, exceptions allowing for quotation, parody and criticism have been put in place.

However, some countries still lag behind, notably in Latin America where a number of states still have no meaningful copyright law containing exceptions. Long efforts by the library sector in Uruguay have been frustrated for now, with the government simply pushing through an unnecessary term extension, while it remains unclear what the Brazilian government will propose. Argentina too, beyond a welcome move to allow enjoyment of the rights created by the Marrakesh Treaty, still has some way to go before a full and modern copyright law is in place.


Enabling Digital Uses: a core focus of much library advocacy around copyright reform has been the drive to update copyright laws for the digital age. Provisions in existing laws – limiting the number of copies taken, specifying a format or method to be used, or explicit exclusion – can all make it impossible for libraries to take advantage of new opportunities.

There has been progress over the past year. Text-and-data mining (TDM) has proved to be a continuing area of uncertainty for many, given that while copies are made, these are usually exclusively part of the analysis process.

To resolve this, we have seen Switzerland and Ireland introduce or strengthen laws which make it clear that this is permissible, at least for non-commercial purposes. Singapore has gone further still in its own proposals, underlining that it should be possible regardless of the purpose, given that TDM causes no harm to original markets, and efforts to control it would likely limit innovation. Myanmar’s new law also opens the way to TDM.

Canada’s Industry, Science and Technology Committee also called for a broad TDM exception in its review of the country’s 2012 reforms. As focus increases on artificial intelligence – which often draws on TDM in order to train machines – it can be hoped that other governments will understand the need for strong exceptions in order to facilitate innovation in this space.

Similarly, there have been steps towards facilitating digital preservation. Myanmar, Switzerland and Ireland have both expanded exceptions to allow for preservation copying through digitisation, giving them more scope to safeguard their history for the future. Draft laws in the Philippines look to do the same.

However, not all is positive, with Kenya missing an opportunity to expand its own preservation provisions. Sadly, this will help continue the imbalance in laws that will give institutions in some countries a greater ability than others to fulfil their mission as guardians of memory.


Closing Loopholes: a major concern linked to greater reliance on digital resources is the opportunity that technological protection measures (TPMs), and the primacy of freedom of contract provide to hollow out exceptions.

TPMs can create practical restrictions on how libraries or their users make use of works, even preventing activities that would ordinarily be protected. Badly drafted laws will nonetheless criminalise the circumvention or removal of such measures.

Meanwhile, unless governments make it clear that they are not enforceable, the terms of contracts for digital content can be used to forbid uses, such as lending or document supply.

We have seen more progress on TPMs in the last year. In both Kenya and Myanmar, it has been made clear that libraries and others need to be able to enjoy copyright exceptions. The proposed Lebanese law includes the same idea, and we have seen calls for this in Canada.

Nonetheless, this is not the case everywhere. The Philippines draft law only refers to penalties for circumventing TPMs, rather than offering clarity to libraries. We will also need to see how European countries, in implementing the new copyright Directive, look to ensure that TPMs cannot be used to frustrate legitimate activities.

Meanwhile, the very promising provisions in South African law, ensuring that rightholders cannot use their negotiating power to deprive libraries and users of their rights under copyright exceptions, are still in limbo due to delay by the President in signing the law.

Unfortunately, neither Kenya nor Myanmar included provisions to prevent override by contract. However, we will see a number of European countries obliged to introduce such measures as they implement the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. We can hope that they will take the opportunity to extend this to other exceptions enabling public interest activities.


Realism on Rights Management: The argument that collective management can remove all of the complexities involved in making copyright work can be attractive. With many small (and a few large) producers trying to engage with many small (and a few large) consumers, an intermediary can make life much simpler. We have seen collective management organisations (CMOs) given new powers to offer licences in Kenya and Switzerland for example.

However, this is also a role of major responsibility. Good collective management can help realise the promise of copyright, and ensure that creators are fairly remunerated. Bad, over-reaching collective management can serve to bully libraries and users, undermine the public interest goals of exceptions, and still do little to improve the lives of creators.

Many governments are coming to see the need for tighter regulation and control of CMOs, with new rules brought in in Kenya and Singapore, and proposed in the Philippines. In both Singapore and Canada, as well as in Australia, there has also been a readiness to dismiss arguments made by CMOs when not based in fact.

Governments will need to act as strong and independent regulators of CMOs in order to ensure that they fulfil their positive potential and do not end up undermining the public interest side of the copyright equation.


Conclusion: 2020 and Beyond: the examples shared so far all date from pre-COVID-19. Understandably, since the pandemic took hold, the primary area of focus has been on providing healthcare and dealing with immediate human challenges.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly asking some serious questions of copyright systems. In many cases, rightholders have indeed been willing to find ways to give access when this would otherwise have been impossible when library doors have closed. This is very welcome.

However, arguably, being able to access something that has already been paid for, or to carry out an activity which would be permitted without question in person, should not rely on the goodwill of private actors.

This reliance – and the variety of responses made – has added to the disruption already caused to education, research, and access to culture.

The failure of copyright laws in general to adapt to the digital age, ensuring that libraries and their users do not have to play by different rules when using different formats, has been made very clear.

World Copyright Day 2020, we can hope, will be a wake-up call for law makers.

World Heritage Day 2019

World Heritage Day encourages us to celebrate the world’s cultures and to raise awareness of cultural heritage – and the importance of preserving it.

In the light of the tragic Notre Dame fire earlier this is week, it is clear that our cultural heritage is not only great, it is also fragile! Our heritage is our history, it unites us, and it identifies us. Keeping it safe should be a goal of us all.

But let us not forget that heritage is more than buildings.

What is Cultural Heritage?

It is easy to think that cultural heritage is something from the past, but it evolves with our engagement with it. It comes in many shapes and forms, and can be enjoyed in many ways.

Every day, people across the globe celebrate their cultural heritage by simply going to the cinema, paying their respects at a religious site, or by appreciating art and literature. It’s not just on this one day a year that we benefit from the joint history and heritage of humanity!

Documentary heritage is a fundamental inheritance of our culture and historical memory, and its preservation is a key task for libraries all over the world.

This is a question that is not standing still. Debates about the preservation of documentary heritage have found a new focus in digital heritage, understood as collections that are the result of the knowledge or expression of human beings that often has no physical support, but rather a digital one.

Recognising the importance of this component of our heritage, UNESCO passed a recommendation in 2015 which called on Member States to do more to recognise the importance of cultural heritage, to and to pass the laws and support the institutions that make its survival possible. You can read more about the recommendation in our briefing.

How to celebrate World Heritage Day

Of course there is no point safeguarding heritage it if cannot be celebrated, and there are many ways to do this. One way you can mark World Heritage Day is to search for locations near you and pay them a visit! Many key heritage sites are registered at the UNESCO World Heritage List. Others can be found by a simple search online, or by asking your local tourist office!

If you prefer celebrating World Heritage Day from the comfort of your home, you can visit one of the many digital libraries. Be inspired by the many manuscripts from antique to the early print era at the Europeana Collections or read about endangered cultural heritage from around the world registered in the Memory of the World Register.

Whether you chose to celebrate off- or online, you can also consider how we can protect our heritage! Spread awareness about our heritage and its importance – you can start by sharing this story on your social media. Support local partners and volunteer either by signing up for a beach clean up or by helping out in your local library when needed. Encourage international cooperation in preserving our world’s cultural heritage.

Our cultural heritage – tangible, intangible and digital – represents our past and our future. We can make a difference today.

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!

World Digital Preservation Day 2018

On 29 November libraries, archives, information institutions and others with a commitment to preserving cultural heritage celebrate the World Digital Preservation Day. This first took place last year, when the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) launched the initiative with the aim to create wider recognition for the value of digital heritage, and take urgent steps to keep it alive

Last year IFLA used the momentum of the day to call for government action, and to join forces with libraries in addressing the on the challenges in digital preservation and to raise awareness of the issues libraries are facing in preserving digital heritage.

This year we will be celebrating World Digital Preservation Day by celebrating all the great ideas, projects and efforts that libraries have been making to overcome the challenges associated with effective digital preservation.

The challenge of digital preservation

Before starting the celebration, let’s first outline what is meant by digital preservation. Digital preservation is defined as the formal activity of safekeeping digitally stored information. It requires policies, planning, resource allocation and appropriate technologies to ensure access to digital information for as long as necessary.

This is where libraries come in! Libraries have a central role in preserving and promoting cultural heritage, including modern-day history of digital collections and materials.

IFLA supported the disseminating of a PERSIST survey to get a global overview of the existence and implementation of policies and strategies for preserving born-digital materials, and to assess the role that governments assume therein.

The survey results showed that libraries are facing difficulties in digital heritage preservation often due to the lack of knowledge, funds or policies. The report also showed that there is a need to advocate for preservation efforts and increased public awareness, as well as the need for common standards and ways to approach this issue.

Libraries preserving born-digital materials

Libraries all over the world have to deal with fast growing numbers of digital materials that need to be safeguarded. Despite the many challenges libraries are facing, they are committed to preserve and provide access to documents or information that have permanent or continuing value.

To celebrate the World Digital Preservation Day we want to highlight some of the many great initiatives, but without forgetting that comprehensive digital preservation is too big an issue for any individual institution to take on alone.

IFLA has worked on the challenges around digital preservation for years, both through the UNESCO PERSIST project and also within our sections on National Libraries, Preservation and Conversation and our PAC Centres.

In 2016 the first ever Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centre specialised in digital preservation were created. The PAC Centre is based at the National Library of Poland and supports the needs of libraries concerning digital preservation and digital sustainability. The PAC Centre is currently conducting a series of surveys covering libraries’ needs in the field of digital preservation and conservation to develop a set of recommendations for long-term preservation. An English survey will be available next year, we’ll make sure to keep you posted.

Other PAC Centres have made digital preservation one of their main focus areas for the coming years. The PAC Centre at Biblioteca Nacional Chile are currently developing a special training program on digital preservation. The PAC Centre at the National Library of Korea is also focusing on digital preservation.

Libraries worldwide are working to preserve our digital heritage, but they cannot do it alone. It has to be a shared responsibility!

The UNESCO PERSIST initiative has offered some ideas to what action may be taken, and it is clear that preservation policies must be put in place. IFLA supports the dialogue between libraries and policy makers, only by joining forces can our heritage be preserved.