Covid and copyright did not mix

Complex and imprecise copyright laws around the world have clearly not made life easier for librarians. 114 responses were received to IFLA’s questions, from 29 different countries, on the experience of public reading professionals, in different types of establishments, regarding copyright and the exercise of their profession during the health crisis.

83% of professionals surveyed believe they have had problems with copyright laws when providing documents to users. The crisis will thus have reinforced already known problems, such as budgetary difficulties and the increase in the cost of purchasing licenses on loan, for digital documents.

This prohibitive and growing cost is one of the most common problems encountered during the period. Also in France, professional organizations have reported a sharp increase in spending in the field of digital documents: if the strong growth in use, due to lockdowns, partly explains the phenomenon, prices seem unbalanced for many librarians.

69% of respondents (78% of the entire research library work panel) indicate that they have had difficulty meeting demand for textbooks and other academic work, again due to financial conditions. The temporary closure of the DawsonEra platform in July 2020 even caused a huge gap, with no other providers offering their documents…

Interviewed librarians also point to gray areas in the various copyright laws, creating uncertainty or pushing some to inadvertently infringe. Therefore, many professionals, especially institutions that participated in a distance education program, did not know ” if it were possible to stream movies or music during online classes […] o record portions of a course that include copyrighted material “.

52% of those surveyed explain having encountered difficulties with the return of students to their country of origin, during the time of travel restrictions: sometimes it was complex to provide documents in one country, when the license of use covered another… In general, these cross-border situations were among the most complex cases for practitioners to analyze.

The IFLA report is available at this address.

Photo: illustration, Iain Farrell, CC BY-ND 2.0

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