Digital Civil Rights in Europe

EU Google Books

(contribution by Jim Killock – Executive Director to EDRi-member Open Rights Group)

Article published in EDRi-gram 7.17, 9 September 2009

The EU Google Books hearing highlighted some very serious concerns with the settlement, but mainly from a rights holder point of view.

The hearing itself addressed two quite distinct sets of issues; firstly concerns of EU rights holders with the USA agreement, and how they feel their rights are affected by that agreement. The aim for these speakers was to push the EU to uphold their exclusive rights under copyright, which they feel have been infringed, particularly by scanning and also by making works available without prior consent. Works where EU rights holders are not found may fall into this category.

The second set of issues however should be more important for EU legislators: how to make books available for search and sale in Europe. The paths forward on this are less easy, but it appears that some sort of reform to allow the exploitation of ‘orphan works’ is seen as a strong likelihood.

What seems less likely is an exception for scanning, search and indexing of published copyright content. Yet this may be the best answer to competition questions, by allowing a clearer path for new services to use copyright content, perhaps including video, audio and music in the future.

Similar questions may be raised around collective licensing agreements. Very little was said about the national nature of copyright, or about attempting to allow pan-European licensing, which has been a severe barrier to music services in the EU.

Read the entire article in EDRi-gram 7.17

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