Libs, copyr & electr envir RESPONSE

Subject: Libs, copyr & electr envir RESPONSE
From: fzscnul (
Date: ti 25 kesä   1996 - 11:10:14 EEST

Copy follows, at Emanuella Giavarra's request, of letter sent by SCONUL
to Carol Risher of the Association of American Publishers on 17 June 1996.

Dear Carol Risher

I have seen a copy of the position paper on 'Libraries, copyright and the
electronic environment', which you wrote for the April 1996 meeting in
Barcelona of the International Publishers Association.

I hope you will find it helpful to have the comments of SCONUL, which
represents all the university librarians, and the directors of the
national libraries, in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

We welcome your call for cooperation, which we warmly reciprocate. We
have found it difficult to convince publishers in the UK and Ireland
(though we think we may be beginning to do so) that the librarians are
actually the champions of copyright in academic institutions in these
islands. We absolutely agree that 'the traditional rights of authors
and publishers must be maintained', as you say at the end of you second
paragraph. Likewise the librarians in our organisation are at the
forefront in maintaining (as you do in your third paragraph) that
'respect for copyright and compliance with the copyright law is ... a
necessary building block without which no meaningful, vibrant content will
be available'.

We are disappointed that you dispense with the concept of 'fair uses' in
a parenthesis of some thirty words. You rightly insist that the traditional
rightof authors a publishers must be maintained. We should be happier
if there were a balancing recognition of the traditional rights of scholars.
In UK and US law, scholars have long enjoyed the right to make a single copy,
of limited extent, for research and private stdy. The differences between
hard copies and electronic copies are well understood by librarians but they
do not affect the principle here, provided that limits and restrictions
continue to be observed.

We can agree with you wholheartedly again that licences and transactional
arrangements must be respected by the libraries, though we arte surprised that
you think it necessary to say this. In the UK and Ireland a strong tradition
is developing in the university world of negotitated licences between
publishers and groups of universities (one such licence is UK-wide). Librarians
are often designated as the administrators of the licence within their
institutions, because they understand the need for respect for the rulse,
rules, and have procedures in place for compliance.

Your paper mentions that 'many national and regional libraries contemplate
digitising their print collections ... such a concept will destroy ... the
incentive to create new ... works'. We are puzzled by the idea that national
and regional libraries may be contemplating breaking the law. All the
digitisation projects known to use are either concerned with material that is
out of copyright, or are embarked upon under licence from publishers. If you
can give examples of digitisation projects that concern unlicensed copying
we should be glad to hear of them.

On a related topic, you have a paragraph headed 'Preservation and conservation
does not mean unrestricted use'. None of our members, to my knowledge, has
eveasserted the contrary view. We are fully aware that digitisation must
either relate to works that are out of copyright or must be carried out with
the consent of the copyright holder and subject to limitations of use. On
the other hand the preservation of existing works is very helpful to the
creastion of new ones, and if libraries are not to be encouraged to preserve
archives of digital material it is far from clear who else will be willing to
take on teh responsibility.

Our reaction to your paper is therefore to agree with much of what yousay.
We think that misunderstandings still exist about the intentions of librarians
(as evinced by the supposed plans of unspecified libraries): our members
certainly seek to uphold the law in good faith. We do not go as far as you
in believing (your penultimate paragraph) that 'the rules of the road and
patterns of behaviour in the electronic environment must be developed
according to .. the rights and interests of creators'; because, in our view,
the principles and purposes of copyright laws, which are mentioned in the
same sentence, have always balanced the limited rights of users against the
major rights of creators. Any interpretation of copyright law which denies
the existing limited rights of persons engaged in research and private
study is likely to tend, in themedium to long term, to stifle creativity
and be prejudicial to the interests of publishers.

We appreciate that we speak for a relatively small group of librarians in
only two countries. Nevertheless we hope that we may have furthered
a rapprochement of views between librarians and the International Publishers

Yours sincerely

Toby Bainton
102 Euston Street Fax: 0171-383-3197
London NW1 2HA Tel: 0171-387-0317

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