Yesterday we discussed a paper about “The digital library” by Harald von Hielmcrone,
He’s main point was, that the long-term consequence of the present legislation in combination with the technological developments and commercial decisions made by the libraries is that the library as a basic public infrastructure is in danger of disappearing, and will be substituted by private content providers. If the present development is allowed to continue, publishers will provide for new, in-copyright content, and Google will take care of the rest.
Leaving the basic library infrastructure to commercial interests will endanger the long term, preservation of and access to our literary heritage. In a commercial setting, there will be no guarantee that published works will continue to be available to the public. On the contrary, there are good reasons to expect that they will disappear when the commercial potentials of the works are exhausted.
If we want to preserve the literal heritage and be able to supply users with the whole range of publications – and not only present day mainstream products – three changes are necessary
- The implementation of legal deposit of electronic publications, i.e. works that are published by being made available to the public via electronic networks.
- The revival of the principles of the Universal Availability of Publications (UAP) and libraries committed to make the national literature available on demand to users.
(UAP – Universal Availability of Publications – was a set of principles to the effect, that the country of origin undertook the obligation to take care of the long-term preservation of the national literature and – if necessary – make it available for users from other countries.)
- The implementation of an exception to the author’s right to control the communications to the public or making available to the public of their works, when the works are no longer communicated to the public or made available to the public by the author or publisher.
To implement these changes will not be easy. There is a strong political will to privatise public infrastructures. The more so, as this development is in line with the explicit and consistent policy of the European Union over the last 25 years, to privatise public infrastructures wherever possible, be it railways, electricity or telecommunication.
Therefore, the ongoing debate about copyright and how we continue to ensure the population free and equal access, one of the key debates in the development of knowledge society.