Thursday, February 13, 2014

College & Research Libraries News; Last sale?: Libraries’ rights in the digital age, February 2014

Jennifer Jenkins, College & Research Libraries News; Last sale?: Libraries’ rights in the digital age:
"In July 2013, the Department of Commerce released a “Green Paper”8 on copyright that solicited comments on digital first sale. In response, the Library Copyright Alliance expressed concern about the “proliferation of licensing” and advocated “restrictions on the enforcement of contractual terms that attempt to limit exceptions to the Copyright Act such as first sale or fair use.”9 Why? Because copyright’s exceptions are as important to its scheme as the exclusive rights themselves. Many librarians are concerned that digital technology has upset the balance between users’ and owners’ rights. In effect, we are back to 1908, except that now the notice that the publisher inserted in that book would have legal force, and would be accompanied by more restrictions.
What would legal reform look like? A farreaching option would be the introduction of a digital first sale right that cannot be waived by contract. Short of this, Congress could grant libraries specific rights allowing them to lend, preserve, and archive electronic materials. Courts might continue to allow fair use to shelter beneficial activities. Finally, private initiatives, such as the Digital Public Library of America and related academic projects, could step in to offer their own solutions to preserve libraries’ freedoms. These efforts to restore balance are important: publishers’ concerns are legitimate, but the cultural freedoms that first sale protects should not depend entirely on a licensor’s whims, either in 1908 or today."

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