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PA's PA 5th June

PA's PA 5th June

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week which has been marked by the tragic passing of former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy.  Perhaps uniquely amongst politicians, Charles was not only respected but genuinely liked by colleagues on all sides of the House.  His moniker of Paddy’s Heir Apparent being a reality when in 1999 he was elected as Paddy Ashdown’s successor as Leader of the Liberal Democrats, a position he held until 2006 when, after leading the party to its greatest number of seats in the post war era, he was forced to stand down after acknowledging his battle with alcoholism.  While much mocked for his appearances on chat and quiz shows (“Chatshow Charlie”) colleagues and rivals could only be impressed by his ability to engage with an audience far outside the traditional Westminster bubble, whilst still remaining a true Parliamentarian.  He will be sorely missed. 

Soul-searching within Labour into what went wrong in the 2015 general election campaign continues. The Guardian’s political editor Patrick Wintour has penned this particularly insightful analysis

In addition, on Thursday Yvette Cooper finally got the 35 nominations of support she needs to get her name onto the ballot paper for the Labour Leadership election. Andy Burnham, however, is still leading the charge with 51 nominations, Liz Kendall on 33, Mary Creagh on six and Jeremy Corbyn (who only threw his name in yesterday) on 3. The election will take place in August with the winner announced on September 12. If you’re interested in who the Labour MPs have publically supported, you can follow this link.

Remote elending
The PA and the Society of Chief Librarians have released the findings of their year-long pilot into remote libraries by public libraries.  The pilot was set up following the Sieghart Review into E-Lending in Public Libraries to analyse the impact of ebook lending on publishers, authors and public libraries.  Four local authorities were selected to take part in the pilot which saw publishers make available for lending an additional catalogue of 893 mainly front list titles, across genres.  A number of measures, as recommended by Sieghart, were put in place in order to establish whether a remote elending service would disrupt the delicate ecology of the print, and still nascent, digital markets and to ensure that a fair balance existed between those who loaned the books for free and those who need to be rewarded for creating, publishing and selling the book.  The main findings were:

  • The pilot simulated lending and attracted a small amount of new users, albeit from a wealthier and older demographic than other library users

  • 95% of users said that a greater range of ebook titles would encourage them to borrow more

  • However, ebook downloads accounted for less than 5% of fiction borrowing within the pilot authorities but librarians indicated they would expect to spend up to 25% of their budgets on ebooks

  • When asked about future intentions, 39% of ebook borrowers indicated that they were somewhat / much less likely to visit bookshops and 37% were somewhat / much less likely to purchase new physical books

  • Ebook borrowers are also less likely to visit the physical library

Publishers agree that the report will be useful in further shaping their understanding of the elending landscape and their policies.  However, the results are of particular concern to booksellers given the indication from the research of a possible reduction in the propensity to buy new physical books and visit bookshops amongst ebook borrowers, a factor highlighted by The Bookseller in its report

In addition, authors point out that there is no Public Lending Right for ebooks when borrowed remotely.  It is critically important that authors receive pair payment each time their works are borrowed as well as on the initial licence to the library.  The future development of any remote elending model will have to have this principle at its core. 

CENL meeting
The latest meeting of the European National Libraries and European publisher associations took place this week at the British Library.  While a variety of transport problems for those travelling from the continent meant we were a slightly depleted bunch, good discussions were had on text and data mining and metadata. 

Jonny Edvardsen of the Norwegian National Library gave a very balanced presentation on TDM as this is something they undertake as part of their role as host of the National Language Bank.  The problems he identified with TDM were:

  • Need for large amounts of content

  • Content from different sources

  • Fact that sources are not standardised

  • Publishers’ fears that the text will be misused while libraries want to use content without what they see as burdensome constraints

In the subsequent discussion, it was agreed to explore whether a common statement of principles could be crafted which would then be shared with the European Commission.  It was acknowledged that this would have to include those principles which underpin publishers’ policies – non-commercial, legal access and the ability for publishers to manage control of their networks. 

The main message in a presentation from Gildas Illien from the French National Library on metadata was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the need for better metadata which is structured in a web friendly way, although it was acknowledged that this is expensive.  Collaboration on this is seen as a way to save costs and build trust.  Libraries need more bibliographical data from publishers; publishers need more authority data from libraries.  It was also felt that identifiers were at the centre of all concerns – who owns them, who governs them. 

Digital Single Market update
The PA has contributed to a couple of pieces of research that have been commissioned by the European Commission to inform their digital single market strategy

One study is looking at the lack of EU rules on defective digital content products and access to digital content and seeks to understand:

  • how the gaps in the EU contract law are affecting businesses that sell / provide digital content;

  • the impact that different policy options being considered by the Commission might have on businesses.

The other, being carried out on behalf of the Commission’s Education and Culture Directorate, is an assessment study on the impact of European copyright rules on digital education and training. In particular, they are looking at how the copyright exceptions (in particular teaching exception, which allows usage of copyrighted works for educational purposes) are functioning in different European countries and want to hear about any current legal uncertainties, obstacles or other challenges related to copyright, either to users of copyrighted works, the copyright holders or intermediaries. We were frustrated to say the least at the number of different ways we had to find to say that there are no legal uncertainties, obstacles or other challenges!  Yet again, we appear to be in a situation where evidence is being sought to fit a pre-ordained answer. 

Referral to CJEU on Dutch case relating to elending and digital exhaustion
On 1st  April 2015  the Court of Appeal in The Hague referred a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union broadly asking (1) whether electronic lending could be included under the definition of public lending under the European Rental and Lending Directive  and (2) whether there is digital exhaustion in electronic books. The first element basically addresses the question whether public libraries are able to lend out electronic books from their servers without requiring further permissions (this also includes remote downloading). The second element addresses the question whether making available books remotely by downloading exhausts the right to control further sales of the e-Book (similar as is the case with physical books).

The PA has been alerting the UK Government to this case and asked them to submit observations to the Court that the answer to both questions has to be “NO” given the wording of the EU and UK copyright framework. A timeline has not been established, we expect a Hearing in Autumn 2015, an opinion by the Advocate General early 2016 and a decision mid 2016 (a decision at CJEU level takes on average 15 months from the reference).

All four questions in the case (174/15 Vereiniging Openbare Bibliotheken v Stichting Leenrecht) can be found here

The Government’s new Education and Adoption Bill 2015 was published this week.  According to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan this will "sweep away bureaucratic and legal" barriers preventing the government taking over struggling schools and turning them into academies “from the first day we spot failure." The bill will see every school in England rated inadequate by Ofsted turned into an academy.  This has met with criticism from the teaching unions and the Labour front bench with Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt saying the measures outlined in the bill “do not meet the challenges we face in education,” citing inequality and the need to attract high quality teachers into poorly performing areas as priorities.

The week we have:
Presented the remote ebook lending pilot findings at the Society of Chief Librarians Conference; attended a joint meeting of European publishers and European legal deposit libraries; discussed joint political activity with the Booksellers Association; discussed  Reading for Pleasure and other literacy initiatives with BBC Learning; spoken with both set of consultancies hired by the European Commission to undertake research into the workings of the digital single market. 

Next week we will be:
Discussing publisher concerns with the Reda Report with UK MEPs; attending a Read On Get On policy strategy day; meeting with Tech City UK; discussing Open Access with JISC; quizzing Francis Gurry, Head of the World Intellectual Property Forum; talking through publisher views on the Commission’s digital single market strategy with the UK IPO.