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66th IFLA Council and General

Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August


Code Number: 040-140-E
Division Number: 0
Professional Group: CLM Open Forum
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 140
Simultaneous Interpretation: Yes

Libraries got a position as a copyright partner in Central and Eastern Europe

Tuula Haavisto
Helsinki, Finland


This paper provides an overview of the Central and Eastern European Copyright Users Platform (CECUP) by the Project Manager. CECUP was a successful effort to raise copyright awareness among librarians in Central and Eastern Europe, and to influence the copyright legislation in those countries. The presentation will include such topics as: comparison of the laws from the 60s and 90s; exemptions in different countries; relationships between rights owners and users; and the achievements of the project.


Copyright conquered on the 90's a clear status as one of the most important matters which influence libraries. In connection with copyright, as well as with freedom of and access to information libraries were bound to a broader background and context than before. They are no more as marginal as they used to be, and library actions with the WTO Seattle negotiations (MAI campaign) at the very end of the decade still more pointed out these concrete relations between libraries and equal access to information.

In Western Europe training of librarians in copyright issues was organised on the second half of the 90's. The initiation maker and the actor was the European association of library associations, EBLIDA (http://www.eblida.org/). The actions were financed by the European Commission. Under the names ECUP and ECUP+ (European Copyright User Platform), two rounds of copyright workshops were held in the European Union member states and in Norway. A web information resource, also called ECUP (http://www.eblida.org/ecup/), was created, It is still maintained, including more information about copyright, licensing and related matters than one can imagine. An European copyright network of librarians was founded. The first contacts with representatives of rightsowners were founded. The ECUP project manager, a knowledgeable Dutch-Italian lawyer, Ms. Emanuella Giavarra, got known as a very effective speaker for libraries and information users.

These actions resulted that EBLIDA had a good and strong lobby both in the WIPO negotiations in Geneva in 1996, and afterwards when the European Union begun to prepare a copyright directive to harmonise copyright legislation on the EU area.

A lot was happening in the European countries, too. Copyright groups were founded, legislation was influenced, articles were published and more copyright training was organised for librarians. In short, European librarians took copyright on their professional agenda in an effective way.

Central and Eastern Europe saw the same needs

In Central and Eastern European (C&EE) countries, the same need to educate librarians in copyright was recognised. Partly this came out from libraries themselves - copyright matters were presented time after time in international meetings and congresses, and C&EE colleagues could easily see that electronic environment will change their working circumstances as well. Partly the project was in the interests of the European Union. It has ten candidate members in Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia). EU wants to train different professional groups of the candidate countries in market economy thinking. To train librarians in copyright suited well in this policy. EBLIDA therefore launched an idea, to repeat the ECUP project in C&EE countries. It received positive feed-back in the European Commission.

Thus, the CECUP project (Central and Eastern European Copyright User Platform) begun in Summer 1998. The Platform was formed of ten library associations in the ten participating countries. The Steering Group of 13 persons consisted of one member from each country, and of the project manager, the project coordinator from EBLIDA and the project officer from the European Commission. (see http://www.eblida.org/cecup/info/frinfo.htm). The project was completed in Christmas 1999.

The objectives and working forms of the project

The objectives of CECUP were:
  • To make librarians in the participating Central and Eastern European (C&EE ) countries aware of the implications of copyright on electronic services.

  • To discuss user rights in electronic services with librarians and rights owners in C&EE countries and to establish licensing principles for the use of electronic information with rights owners. These licensing principles could serve as a code of good conduct for drafting licences between libraries and rights owners.

  • To raise awareness in C&EE countries about the established European Focal Point for copyright questions and information on EU legislative developments in this area.

  • To reinforce the position of C&EE libraries in discussions about copyright with the appropriate bodies in their countries.
The main working forms of CECUP were to offer a copyright workshop in each country, to make a study about copyright and libraries in those countries, and to organise the first meeting with representatives of right owners on the respective region.

Copyright legislation in Central and Eastern European countries

A big change happened in the copyright legislation of the Central and Eastern European countries from the 60´s to the 90´s. When the laws of the earlier period were more user-friendly, guaranteeing more user rights without remuneration, the present line is towards a more Western European policy, where the rightowners' position is better. This can be seen e.g. when comparing the old and new laws of Hungary and Lithuania. In both countries the new law was adopted during the year 1999. When in Hungary all kinds of library lending was earlier allowed without permission or remuneration (even lending of audio-visual material), the new law is recognising the EU regulations about e.g. computer programmes and databases. In Lithuania a Public Lending Right system was launched in the new copyright law, the price of which will in one form or another be paid from library budgets. The laws have also grown to be much more detailed than they used to be, and also include more definitions. This is basically an advantage: earlier laws tended to be very general, and the formulations could be read in several controversial ways.

The three-step-test of the Berne convention can be recognised in each present law. Remuneration systems for reproduction have been established, based on levy systems and administered by collecting societies.

Interesting special characteristics can also be found. One cannot find very much self-service copying machines in C&EE libraries; they have had unfortunate experiences with damaged machines, stolen papers and so forth. Instead of self-service copying, library staff do copy according to the requests from patrons. This should be and often is formulated in the law, to permit libraries to make copies for private purposes on behalf of their users.

The exemption for blinds and other groups having difficulties in reading is also an interesting case. Here, one can easily see, how important it is to formulate articles which don't confuse but give clear orders, and still are general enough. If this kind of exemption is missing, libraries are in difficult situation. This is the case in Poland and Slovenia. The definition of the target group can also be too narrow: if it says the blind, what about visually impaired? The Romanian law is referring to needs of people with reading difficulties only indirectly, as a part of the exemption for education and research, which is also causing problems. In some laws (e.g. Estonia and Lithuania) the texts refer to braille or similar reproduction methods, which is rejecting use of new technologies in producing material for these groups.

Eight out of the ten countries have a clause for library lending right in their copyright law. The most extreme opposite solution is the Slovak copyright law from 1997. It demands that even loaning of books must be licensed by the rightowners. In practice this has not been organised yet - libraries are thus working "illegally". It is unclear, who should write the licenses on behalf of libraries, and who should pay the licensing fees. The present line is, to try to include more detailed orders in the Library Act, which is in preparation. It is paradoxical that Slovakia is one of the only two Central and Eastern European countries, where no new copyright law is under work - for the Slovakian libraries, the need would be burning!

As a part of the membership candidacy process, these countries have to harmonise their copyright legislation with the EU directives. They have been here very punctual. In Latvia, the first revision in 1993 was made in the spirit of the U.S. copyright law with the idea of "fair use", but the present draft law then is more like the Western European laws.

In most cases only the database directive of the European Union, adopted in 1996, has not been included in the copyright laws. But as we know, the next covering change will be there soon, when the copyright draft directive of the European Union will at last be adopted.

The results and conclusions of the project

Better awareness and active influence The project CECUP achieved its goals, and went even beyond. The reaction of the audiences in the CECUP workshops as well as the actions taken by the partner library associations were more active than was expected when planning the project. This was partly due to the situation, as eight of the ten countries were revising their copyright laws: this offered a natural forum for the actions.

In all CECUP workshops the atmosphere was positive, active and learning. It is clear that after the workshops the copyright awareness among librarians has risen, as well as their ability to take part in national copyright discussions.

The good network between the partner library associations and the Steering Group members is one of the most important achievements of CECUP. The SG meetings were an important source of information, and the discussions did really put thinking forward. The members were able to enrich the project with the experiences from their own countries.

After the workshops the SG members and the partner library associations found ways to influence the copyright law revision processes in the countries were the law was under work. They published articles in their library journals and gave lectures in their annual library conferences. The copyright working groups were established in each country and were active, mainly just in law revision matters.

The State-of-the-Art report Copyright and Libraries in Central and Eastern European countries (see http://www.eblida.org/cecup/docs/frdocs.htm) is the first overall presentation about this topic. It includes lots of detailed material, like an annex with direct quotations of the C&EE copyright laws and sources of information on Internet and in paper form, as well as some descriptions of law revision projects in the respective countries. It informs about the differences and similarities in copyright practices between these countries and Western Europe.

An own website, www.eblida.org/cecup/, was established. It is integrated with the well-known ECUP web site, but is including a lot of own CECUP material as well.

Libraries got visibility in copyright context A revision of copyright law was more or less under work in all the CECUP countries except for Slovakia and Slovenia. This means, the timing of workshops was excellent. According to contacts after the workshops, at least in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Romania views of libraries have really been considered in discussions of the new copyright laws. E.g. in Romania the so called window-time, prohibition to buy book for library lending in the first six months after their publication, will be annulled in the next copyright law revision. In Poland, the complicated division into two groups of research libraries and information services will be made clearer. In the Czech Republic the discussion about the general line of the new law went very far without paying attention to library views. But on the last hearing in the Parliament, the situation changed, and libraries got some beneficial formulations included. The library association SKIP must be congratulated because it did not give up! On the other hand, some losses were seen as well. In Lithuania and in Estonia the last-minute-lobbying of the copy machine importers led to an exceptional formulation of the copyright legislation: the levy will be paid by providers of copy services (including non-commercial providers like libraries) instead of the importers of copy machines and copy paper which is the usual case.

From the political point of view one of the most important achievements of CECUP was the new visibility which libraries gained through the workshops. Libraries used not to be discussion partners in copyright matters. In most of the workshops also ministry officers, political advisors or even politicians have participated, who have got new information about users position in copyright matters. The response towards the more active role of libraries in copyright matters was welcomed in most C&EE countries. This was a surprise, because the attitudes among Western European decision makers are not always as positive.

Meeting with rightowners The first contact with the representatives of right owners was successful, although there were difficulties in finding interested representatives to be invited. But then the discussions with the representatives of right owners were positive. The three representatives of collecting societies from the CECUP countries commented on CECUP Position on User Rights in Electronic Publishing (http://www.eblida.org/cecup/docs/frdocs.htm) by stating that it is a very useful paper and can serve as a basis for common discussions on national level. The representative of the Lithuanian Authors Association shared this opinion, although he said that it will take a long time before the Lithuanian fiction will be found on the Internet or in any electronic form. Thus the interest of fiction writers is until now low regarding licensing matters. In fact, this statement was finalised only after the meeting with the rightowners, and most remarks made by them were included.

At the end of the first common meeting in this part of Europe ever, all participants agreed that the discussion must be continued also on international level. It is crucial to get some information about international development in licensing before signing licensing agreements between partners in these countries.

The last Steering group meeting also draw a very significant conclusion: just now, librarians in most CECUP countries are much more knowledgeable about licensing issues than any other national copyright partner. So far, only librarians needed this information, because they use international material, a big part of which is nowadays in electronic form.

The process will continue

At the beginning of this year, an application was sent by EBLIDA to the European Commission, to continue this kind of training in Central and Eastern Europe. The topic for the new round of workshops and for the next contact with representatives of right owners was suggested to be licensing. The European Commission was again very positive towards the initiative, and the new project, officially CELIP (Central and Eastern European Licensing Information Platform) but unofficially CECUP II will begin in September 2000. Some ideas about extending copyright and licensing workshops to Russia and surroundings have also been presented, but no concrete initiations have been made when writing this paper.

An overall source, see http://www.eblida.org/cecup/ Questions and comments to Ms. Tuula Haavisto, former Project Manager, e-mail tuulah@kaapeli.fi


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