Special Libraries Association Comments on EU Directive

Subject: Special Libraries Association Comments on EU Directive
From: John Crosby (JOHN-C@sla.org)
Date: ti 17 maalis 1998 - 22:34:08 EET

Sent to European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens Rights, Committee of the Regions, Permanent Representation, and the Economic and Social Committee:

On behalf of the nearly 15,000 member-professionals of the Special Libraries Association (SLA), I am writing to express my concerns with the proposed Directive on Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society, dated 10 December, 1997.

Special librarians are information resource experts who collect, analyze, evaluate, package and disseminate information to facilitate accurate decision-making in corporate, academic, non-profit, and government settings. In an increasingly challenging environment of information management and technology, special librarians are using cutting-edge technologies to put knowledge to work for their organizations or clients.

The draft directive makes a modest attempt to spell out the rights of information users in Europe. Unfortunately, it falls far short of permitting existing rights to continue into the digital age. If electronic information is to be properly used, it must be used in the same ways that print and analog information have been implemented for years.

First and foremost, the directive considers the viewing of a digital work to be a *communication to the public,* which requires the permission of the author. Under this proposal, libraries could not allow users to browse or view digital materials, even for private or educational use. Requirement of authorization or payment for such use takes away a user*s fundamental abilities in a library setting. Even if the library is the entity that must obtain permission or provide payment, the directive

Second, the directive provides an exception for reproduction in public places that is *not for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage.* SLA believes that this is too restrictive, as it would exclude many academic and special libraries that provide many social and economic benefits to the public.

Third, the exceptions merely provide for copying of printed information in libraries. Since the right of *communication to the public* is flawed, the exceptions are affected by it in ways that libraries cannot accept. The explanatory notes for the directive suggest that licensing between parties should resolve such matters. SLA disagrees with this philosophy, as users* rights will depend on whether a copyright owner is willing to make works available for copying in a library. This would seri

Fourth, no member nation may provide exceptions or limitations beyond what is carved out in the proposed directive. While it is understood that this is done to provide a sense of uniformity to the member nations* laws, only one provision is mandatory; all others are optional. SLA suggests that all acceptable limitations and exceptions that are provided in the final directive should be included in domestic law.

Fifth, the limitation concerning teaching and scientific research does not adequately protect users in today*s cutting-edge academic and research environments. The reference to *illustration* suggests that a student or researcher might not be able to make reference to or directly use portions of copyrighted digital works unless authorization is provided. This is clearly too restrictive.

Sixth, and possibly most damaging to Europe*s information society and its collective economy, is Article 6 of the directive. This section goes far beyond the provisions of the WIPO Copyright Treaty, which calls for *effective measures* against circumvention of copyright protection systems (passwords, encryption methods, encoding, scrambling). Article 6 proposes to ban any device, technology or service that may allow for circumvention. This provision is seriously flawed for several reasons:

*There are certainly devices, technologies, or services that currently exist that could potentially have legitimate purposes. The future will bring more technologies that might violate this provision but have perfectly legal uses. This provision would freeze development of such technologies and limit the ability of the public to take advantage of their legitimate uses.

*Given that certain limitations and exceptions should continue to exist, this provision would, in effect, negate certain users* rights.

*Even if exemptions to this provision were provided, they would be meaningless if the technologies it affects cannot be produced or sold.

For this directive to effectively protect copyright owners in the digital age and ensure that existing users* rights continue, the following must occur:

*The viewing of a digital work must considered an acceptable use of a work, rather than a *communication to the public.* Distribution of a copyrighted work by a user without the permission of the owner should be illegal. Viewing of digital works, particularly in libraries, is essential if the information society is to develop properly. This will benefit not only individual users in their homes, but also users in libraries.

*Copying digital works must be allowed in the same manner as print and analog works are currently allowed. Failure to do so would take libraries out of the digital age.

*Any provisions concerning libraries must acknowledge more than just public libraries. To do so would be to ignore a significant portion of the library community that affects the public.

*Member nations should be given a set of limitations and exceptions that must be accepted or rejected. Otherwise, there will be no uniformity of laws across borders. Given that the digital world is borderless, inconsistency in domestic laws would be illogical.

*The directive should provide limitation for education and research that accords such users substantive protection.

*The directive should seek to punish conduct under copyright law. Banning technologies in a wholesale manner makes no sense.

I look forward to the continuing debate on this matter in the coming months. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me or John Crosby of my staff. He may be reached by calling 1-202-234-4700, extension 629, or sending an electronic mail message to john-c@sla.org.

With kindest regards, I am


David R. Bender, Ph.D.

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