Dutch Libraries Go To Court To Make Sure They Can Lend Ebooks

from the why-is-this-even-a-question? dept

As we’ve noted before, many publishers have the crazy attitude that ebooks shouldn’t be lent by libraries, and that it should be made harder for people to access literature in these places if it’s in a digital form. Over in the Netherlands, public libraries have had enough of this, and are taking legal action over the issue, as an article in Future of Copyright reports:

Dutch public libraries are bringing a test case to court. The test case is about the right to lend e-books in public libraries. The public libraries want e-lending to be included in the copyright-exception for public libraries. The association of public libraries therefore take legal action against Stichting Leenrecht, a foundation collecting the lending fees.

The Dutch Copyright Act contains a copyright limitation that allows public libraries to lend physical copies of books. The question was raised whether this exception included also the lending of e-books. If that were the case, it would be a great advantage for public libraries, because they would not have to ask the permission of the copyright holder of the e-book.

The immediate stimulus for the public libraries’ move is a report presented by the Dutch Minister of Education to the Dutch Parliament, which looked into the question of lending rights. Unfortunately, the minister came to the view that the lending exception in Dutch copyright law only applied to physical copies of books. The Dutch libraries hope the courts will rule that it should apply to ebooks too. Since this seems to be the first such case anywhere, its outcome will doubtless be watched closely.

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Comments on “Dutch Libraries Go To Court To Make Sure They Can Lend Ebooks”

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19 Comments
Anonymoussays:

the ridiculousness of the situation is to allow hard copies to be lent but restrict digital copies. surely part of the whole idea of lending takes into account the copying bit? although harder to copy physical books than digital ones, the money saved not having to replace those physical ones could mean even greater variety. that plus catering for some who cannot afford some of the outlandish prices, is the whole object of a library isn’t it?

anonymousesays:

Re:

I think the reason libraries were created in the first place is as you say, so that people that did not have the money to buy books could borrow them, playing the devils advocate though if people could just got to a library and get a copy of a book or even do it online then nobody would ever buy books again, Not that i think that is a problem, if anything it could encourage Authors and publishers to look for other reasons to encourage people to buy books or even have a donation link at the end of all their books.

What publishers and Authors need to remember is that we as consumers know the cost of selling books has dropped by a huge percentage, in fact the cost of printing a book is gone now. No more buying huge rolls of paper and huge printing presses or glue or any of the myriad costs for old paper books. Why not take that saving and create something for the customer to be able to justify paying the prices they are asking for eBooks.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

playing the devils advocate though if people could just got to a library and get a copy of a book or even do it online then nobody would ever buy books again,

Libraries have sold more books for publishers than any advertising agency. While fans will immediately buy a new book by a favorite author, they probably discovered that author by borrowing from a library, or from a friend. It is quite common for people to buy books that they have read by borrowing when they become a fan of the book, or author.
People rarely buy a new book by a strange author, they sample their work first.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

This premise, that if free exists no one would ever pay money for anything again, is constantly debunked by multiple studies that show the most prolific copyright violators are also the most prolific buyers. The people most aware of how easy it is to get it for free are also the ones spending money. Yet for some reason this myth persists. It makes no sense.

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re:

This premise, that if free exists no one would ever pay money for anything again, is constantly debunked by multiple studies

Not just studies, but it’s also debunked by the actual marketplace: bottled water, independent music, canned air, etc.

The myth persists because there are so many people who believe that price is the sole factor motivating purchasing decisions. It’s an important one, certainly, but there are more important factors.

I've_Got_The_Flusays:

Libraries are just places where pirate apologists are TRAINED. I mean just think about it, a building where it’s very purpose is to spread knowledge WITHOUT PAYING anyone. It’s sick. People should have to pay each time they come across a new idea otherwise who will THINK of things?

and worst of all little Mikey won’t even talk about how his Google chums actually support libraries by putting them on top of all sorts of queries clearly related t the theft of ideas.

/sarc

out_of_the_bluesays:

Digital copies are COPIES. Data isn't like physical.

So long as a creator’s right to control copies is recognized — as it should be — then digital data must be handled with regard to that right. It’s much easier to violate a creator’s rights with computers, but that doesn’t change the basic morality that exists as with books.

The public doesn’t actually have ANY right to works except through the means defined in copyright law, which intends to see that creators are rewarded and grifting is prevented. But Techdirt fanboys simply assume they’ve a primary right to scoop up any and all data to fill their drives — kind of the attitude the NSA has — which is prohibited!

The societal deal of long standing, works well every day for millions, is that the creator controls all copies, which library use of ebooks clearly violates, especially because can’t prevent users from keeping (and “sharing” around without limit) a copy of the data.

Just get used to the idea that digital data IS different from a physical work. Clearly, you can’t “lend” data in any way that guarantees the supposedly temporary copy will be erased.

Rikuosays:

Re: Digital copies are COPIES. Data isn't like physical.

“is that the creator controls all copies,”

So, what exactly is it I’m buying when I walk into a bookstore and pick up a book, if not control over that book? If the author controls the copy of the book I’m buying, why then should I pay him? Every single other financial transaction involves the seller relinquishing control of their widget to the buyer, and being compensated for the loss of control monetarily. If the author keeps control, there’s no reason for me to pay him, he hasn’t lost anything.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Digital copies are COPIES. Data isn't like physical.

“If the author controls the copy of the book I’m buying, why then should I pay him?”

You wouldn’t. You’d use a place that controls the book from a central repository like, say, a library. The author also has no control over whether you use the book to make paper mache or wipe your dog’s ass, just as they have no control over whether you lend it to a friend, who then sells the book to another friend, who then sells it online who then…

It’s the control freak aspect that’s often the most ridiculous part of these arguments, and the usual morons don’t seem to understand how the restrictions they try to place bear no resemblance to how products are used in real life. Then they wonder why their restrictive demands are rejected.

As ever, these people would do well to ensure their arguments bear some relation to reality, not some fantasy world where everyone bought everything new at full price before the internet came along.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Digital copies are COPIES. Data isn't like physical.

The magic of digital is that it’s only different when they wish it to be different. Buying digital? No, you’re not. You’re renting access to the data. Collecting royalties on renting access? No, you’re not. We’re ‘selling’ digital. it’s really an exciting new field of quantum mechanics where digital occupies every super position it needs to simultaneously.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Digital copies are COPIES. Data isn't like physical.

List of misconceptions as they appear:

1. There is no moral component to controlling the right to copy.

2. The default is actually that the public has all of their normal property rights including the right to record whatever data they wish into whatever mediums they own. Copyright is an exception to actual property rights that the public agrees to under the premise that it makes the public better off in the long run. This isn’t an assumption or an argument it’s a factual regurgitation of the history of copyright law.

3. The use of ebooks doesn’t ‘clearly’ violate anything although I can see how you could come to that conclusion given your false premise that the creator controls all copies by default. They don’t. Not morally and not legally.

4. Data is the same as it always has been. We’ve just advanced to the point where it’s so cheap and easy to make a copy that it’s easier to just make a copy than it is to hand someone the physical medium your copy is recorded on. That should make lending more ubiquitous and knowledge more prolific, not less.

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