Re: Copying of computer software for preservation purposes

Subject: Re: Copying of computer software for preservation purposes
From: Wim De Vos (
Date: ma 25 touko† 1998 - 10:56:09 EEST

Dear Sir,

As far as I know, in Belgium, copying of any electronic file is forbidden or
in any case, in the project text of Belgian law meant to achieve the
implementation of the EU copyright directive, nothing mentions the
electronic preservation of programs or text files by libraries and archives.
In the Netherlabnds, a study has been undertaken which concluded that in the
UK and the USA libraries can make preservation copies of electronic files. I
don't know if this includes also programs. You find a fax number of the
authors of this study in the IFLA Journal Vol. 24, 1998, No. 1, p77. I can't
give it to you right now, as I haven't that number in my office.

Wim De Vos
Royal Library of Belgium

At 11:50 20/05/98 +0200, you wrote:
>[This message is cross-posted to ecup-list and EPIC-LST]
>Dear ecup-listers,
>I have some questions regarding the possibilities of copying computer
>program for _preservation_ purposes in the EU countries.
>The Council Directive 91/250/EEC from 1991 on the legal protection of
>computer programs, states that the rightholder has the exclusive right to
>authorize any reproduction of a computer program. The only exceptions
>stated are for back-up copies and such copies that are necessary to make in
>order to use the program.
>The Directive is implemented in the the Swedish Copyright Law
>(, which, in the article on
>library exceptions, states that:
>[Article 16.] Those archives and libraries which are mentioned in the third
>and fourth paragraphs may make copies of works, with the exception of
>computer programs,
>1. for purposes of preservation, completion or research,
>This means that computer program are excepted from the "library exception"
>in the Swedish law.
>Of course, this causes problems when it comes to the possibilities of
>preserving digital material. As you all know, preserving digital material
>means copying and/or migration into future formats and technical
>In many cases not only the "information itself" but also the underlying
>software must be copied and migrated in order to be viewed, read, or
>listened to later on. For a growing no of documents, it is more or less
>impossible to distinguish between the content and the software.
>But if copying a computer program is forbidden, even for preservation
>purposes, how can we preserve these documents?
>I would like to hear about the situation in the other EU countries. Is this
>kind of reproduction forbidden everywhere? Or have you treated the
>Directive differently?
>The final (possibly provocative) question is: if we are not allowed to do
>this kind of copying, shall we then forget about preservation of digital
>Best regards
>Jakob H
>Jakob Harnesk
>Secretary of the Commission on Review of the Swedish Legal Deposit
>Kungl. biblioteket/BIBSAM, Box 5039, S-102 41 Stockholm, Sweden
>Tel: +46 8 463 42 70; Fax: +46 8 463 42 74
Koninklijke Bibliotheek van BelgiŽ

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