Vezzoso, Simonetta (2006) Subito and Beyond: New Challenges for Library Document Delivery in Europe? UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
The interlibrary loan service has a long and commendable history, based on the idea that documents should be accessible to a patron independent from the latter’s location. However, when interlibrary loan started developing into the supply of a surrogate copy (a photocopy) of the requested document, it met fierce opposition from publishers, who were fearing substantial loss of their revenue. The introduction of electronic document delivery greatly increased these concerns, in particular with regard to articles published in scientific and technical journals. In fact, publishers consider that the possibility of patrons obtaining copies of articles at almost the same speed as if they were available by subscription to an electronic journal would give libraries even more reason to cancel subscriptions, thus affecting the normal exploitation of works and the legitimate interests of rights holders. Libraries, on the other hand, tend to see electronic document delivery as a natural development of the interlibrary loan service. Librarians want to be able to offer a document delivery service that meets their patrons increased information needs and expectations of quick delivery of the requested materials. From a legal point of view, electronic document delivery involves an array of complex copyright issues, many of which have been raised in a recent case involving Subito, a German library document delivery service of the main German libraries, as well as two Austrian and one Swiss library, and which is funded by the German Government. The Börsenverein (Association of German Book Traders), and the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers have taken legal action against Subito, in particular questioning the compliance of its electronic document delivery services with German copyright law (UrhG in the following) and the Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society. Last December, a Munich court rendered the first ruling on this matter, promptly appealed by both parties. Moreover, the German legislator is currently considering a highly controversial new copyright provision on electronic document delivery, with a major potential impact on Subito’s and other library document delivery services. Parallel to this, licensing practices for electronic journals could provide for additional challenges to this traditional library service. In fact, a significant number of scientific publishers have endorsed licensing policies that put constraints to the array of document delivery services that libraries can offer. In this paper we will first outline the position taken by the Munich Court in its recent judgement and then we will briefly deal with the provision of so-called “Document Delivery clauses” in licences for electronic journals.
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