[A2k] EIFL statement: library cross-border issues

Teresa Hackett teresa.hackett at eifl.net
Thu May 1 01:57:14 PDT 2014


27th Session: Geneva, 28 April – 2 May 2014

Agenda item 6: Limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives

Topic 6 Cross-border uses

On behalf of Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), that
partners with libraries and library consortia in more than 60
developing and transition economy countries, we thank the Committee
for the opportunity to speak on cross-border uses.

We thank the African Group, Ecuador and India for proposals on this topic.

The collections of libraries and archives in one country often contain
materials of unique cultural and historical significance to people in
other countries due to national border changes, mass emigration,
shared common languages, research interests and a host of other
reasons. These materials collectively contribute to the cultural
heritage of humankind and the building of intercultural understanding.

Take, for example, an Italian scholar researching the lives of the
Quechua people in South America. Should they only have access to
research materials in Italian libraries? They will get resources in
libraries in Italy, but for the most part, the materials are only
available elsewhere e.g. in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador.

Likewise, a person in the US studying Antonio Gramsci, the Italian
politician and philosopher would certainly find material in US
libraries, but just as certainly would need to consult many other
materials by and about Antonio Gramsci held solely in Italian

A recent survey by IFLA’s CLM showed that libraries receive requests
for access to specialized items in their collection from a wide
variety of countries. For example, libraries in Senegal get requests
from Morocco, France, Guinea, Burkina Faso among others. Colombian
libraries get requests for materials from Mexico, USA, Peru, France,
Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Venezuela.

In many countries, however, copyright exceptions stop at the border.
They don’t permit libraries to legally provide copies of documents to
overseas libraries at the request of an end user.

I will provide one concrete example of a cross-border use. A PhD
student in Estonia was undertaking comparative research in five Baltic
and Nordic countries on historiographical narratives i.e. a critical
analysis of authentic source materials used in the writing of history.
The student needed to consult articles and book chapters from c. 1920
that are not available in Estonia. The university library sent
electronic requests to libraries in Iceland and Norway that had the
materials in their collections. But, due to copyright and licensing
restrictions, the requests were refused.

How do we explain to today’s generation that they must get on an
aeroplane to consult, for bona fide research purposes, a chapter from
a book published 90 years ago? Or that copyright exists to actually
encourage research and creativity?

Finally we note that despite extensive schemes in Nordic countries,
licensing did not facilitate this straightforward request. In
addition, libraries in Denmark and Norway reported in the recent EU
consultation on copyright, that cross-border access is not permitted
under their Extended Collective Licensing schemes. In its comments,
the National Library of Norway that has an Extended Collective Licence
to provide online access to Norwegian literature said that “the
cross-border effect is halted as the cross-border effect is not
compatible with EU-law”.

We need an international solution to an international problem.

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