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Libraries can digitise books, says CJEU



James Nurton, London


EU member states may grant public libraries the right to digitise books from their collections “if such act of reproduction is necessary for the purpose of making those works available to users”, the Court of Justice of the EU has ruled

CJEUThe Court (right) yesterday gave its judgment in a dispute between the Technische Universität Darmstadt and publisher Eugen Ulmer, referred from Germany’s Bundesgerichtshof, on the interpretation of Article 5(3)(n) of the Copyright Directive.

This provides that member states may provide exceptions to the rights of reproduction and communication to the public for “use by communication or making available, for the purpose of research or private study, to individual members of the public by dedicated terminals on the premises of establishments … of works and other subject-matter not subject to purchase or licensing terms which are contained in their collections”.

However, the Court added that this does not extend to acts such as the printing out of works on paper or their storage on a USB stick.

Such acts maybe authorised under national legislation implementing the exceptions or limitations provided the conditions in the Directive are met. In practice, this means providing fair compensation.

The case arose after Eugen Ulmer sought to prevent the university from digitising a book in its library collection and to prevent users from being able to print the book or save it on a USB stick via electronic reading points.

The Advocate General’s opinion was published in June.

Darmstadt University was represented by Nils Rauer and Diana Ettig of Hogan Lovells in Frankfurt. Eugen Ulmer was represented by Ulrich Karpenstein and Gernot Schulze of Redeker Sellner Dahs in Berlin.


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