Copyright directive proposal : Norwegian library intitiatives

Subject: Copyright directive proposal : Norwegian library intitiatives
From: Frode Bakken (
Date: ti 26 touko  1998 - 08:43:12 EEST

EU copyright directive : Norwegian library associations initiative

Norwegian library associations had a meeting on tuesday 19th of may 1998
with the norwegian minister of culture Anne Enger Lahnstein with one item
on the agenda: The European commission copyright directive proposal and the
libraries. The delegation was headed by the new president of the Norwegian
library association Turid Tharaldsen. She was elected president at the
annual meeting 25th of april 1998. In the delegation was also general
secretary of the Norwegian library association Tore Andersen, Hilde
Trygstad from the Norwegian association of special libraries and Frode
Bakken from the Norwegian library association. In Norway the ministry of
culture is responsible for copyright activities. The government delegation
consisted of 6 persons including the minister and was represente on the
adminstrative level with Helge Sonneland and Bengt Hermansen.

The meeting was initiated by a letter sent to the minister 1st of april
1998 by the Norwegian library and the Norwegian association of special
libraries aksing for a meeting. In the letter the Norwegian library
associations expressed deep concern about the future activities of
libraries if the Commission directive should be adopted without change. The
two associations stressed that in Norway and to a large extent in Europe an
acceptable copyright regime for printed material in a library context has
been established and developed over a long period. New solutions for
electronic material is needed. The associations repeated their support for
the substantial position taken by the Norwegian government at the WIPO
conference in december 1996 when Norway presented its important proposal
for an amendment to the originally proposed article 7 of the Copyright
The associations stressed that the expected changes from digital technology
will be of vital importance for libraries. But there is still no reason to
believe that the societal importance of library activities will be removed
completely based on technological change. The societal basis for library
activities will still be addressed to education policy, research policy,
wealth distribution policy, cultural policy and regional policy. These five
elements will still be expected to be relevant. Even if there is
substantial change in the informationsociety, physical rooms
will not be removed completely and the importance of the physical room
might increase. New copyright regimes might give the physical library an
increased value.

The associations emphasised that there is a dortant aliscrepancy between EU
commission official policy saying "libraries are impso in the new
information society" on the one hand and on the other hand presenting new
copyright regimes with great impact on libraries without any deep analysis
of library objectives and needs. They stressed that a normal procedure
would mean to define roles and objectives for libraries first and
afterwards initiate activities in order to implement concrete actions
concerning judicial and economic requirements. Now the situation is vice
versa. Very often the library community ends up with a very "defensive"
role which is contrary to the general societal position of the libraries.

The library associations urged the Norwegian government to do their best
with limited possibilities (as a country outside the European union) to
work for library positions in this context.

The Norwegian library associations distributed in full text to the minister
the basic EBLIDA documents as central documents for future work.
The associations stressed that there is still uncertainty concerning the
interpretation of the different paragraphs of the Commission proposal and
concerning the effects on libraries of the different paragraphs. The EBLIDA
documents were delivered to the minister with reservations concerning the
concrete and exact analysis of each element.

In the meeting with the minister on may 19th the Norwegian library
associations stressed that the important question is to support
activities in order to secure library activities in the future according
to societal needs and not let technological and economic change be the only
driving forces for library development.
The Norwegian minister of culture Anne Enger Lahnstein is a well known
opponent to Norwegian EU membership and she was in the leadership of the
"No to Europeran union" campaign before the EU-referendum in 1994 which
resulted in a majority of no-votes.

She stressed in the meeting that she would do her best to work for good
solutions for libraries also in a european context - but the the Norwegian
membership in the EEA - the European economic agreement means that we to a
large extent have to follow EU regulations, directives etc.

The Ministry of culture will on 5th of june 1998 organise a hearing on the
European commission directive proposal with norwegian NGOs and institutions.

Frode Bakken

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