Free Our Libraries! Why We Need A New Ap…

Free Our Libraries! Why We Need A New Approach to Putting Library Collections Online :

“Today businesses are scanning millions of books from the world’s great libraries and offering access to them on the Web. This conjures up the vision of a vast, free, Internet public library of accumulated knowledge. It seems like a marriage made in heaven—the union of corporate capital and enormous library collections, carrying knowledge into virtually every home and workplace. Unfortunately, it’s not. New funding strategies, coordinated library action, and forward-looking principles are needed.”


Access to Knowledge. A Guide for Everyone

Consumers International (CI), the world federation of consumer groups founded in 1960, serves as the only independent and authoritative global campaigning voice for consumers. With over 220 member organisations in 115 countries, it is building a powerful international consumer movement to help protect and empower consumers everywhere.

CI’s global programme on A2K (access to knowledge) was established in 2008 to guarantee that consumer interests are adequately represented in national and global debates around intellectual property (IP) and communications rights. This includes exploring the creation of public goods and enhancing the public domain, and fostering a fairer system of managing intellectual property in international and bilateral trade agreements and regimes.

The programme’s threemain objectives are to:
• Campaign for more balanced intellectual property laws and enforcement practices that take into account consumers’ interests.
• Provide capacity building to all stakeholders on consumer issues related to intellectual property and access to knowledge.
• Promote human rights in the information society, particularly in the areas of communications, education and health.

By harnessing the collective voice and effectiveness of consumer groups working around the world and across issue sectors, CI aims to serve as a catalyst for policy change, putting pressure on governments and international organisations to develop more balanced IP and communications regimes.

This handbook, Access to Knowledge: A Guide for Everyone, is a part of that broader programme. Its aim is to provide a concise and nonspecialist introduction to IP and A2K issues, and selected related issues of communications rights and access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). Its intended readership includes consumer groups and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) who wish to become more knowledgeable in this area, individual academics and activists who could use a simple reference guide to the many related issues of A2K, and consumers at large who are affected by unfair IP laws and practices.

On this note, whilst A2K has not always been high on the agenda of the global consumer movement, CI believes that it is very much of a consumer issue, on a par with the more traditional consumer issues such as food and product safety, sustainable consumption, and unethical marketing. After all, many activities that now form part of consumers’ everyday lives, such as accessing learningmaterials, transferringmusic, videos or e-books from one device to another, and sharing their interests online, are deeply impacted by IP laws and policies.


Using Competition Law to Promote Access …

Using Competition Law to Promote Access to Knowledge :
“One of the points of convergence among the many strands of the A2K movement is resistance to the one-size-fits-all ratcheting up of intellectual property provisions around the world. The resistance is grounded in analysis showing that intellectual property rules often create social costs that far outweigh their intended benefits. Much of the A2K movement’s advocacy for limitations of intellectual property rights is located within the field of intellectual property law – promoting the inclusion and use of balancing mechanisms within the laws granting intellectual property rights. But intellectual property rights are also shaped and limited by their interaction with other fields of law, competition law being a prime example. After describing the theoretical and doctrinal underpinnings of a shift of A2K legal advocacy toward the use of completion law, this paper surveys some of the strategic advantages of using competition norms to reframe political debates and shift struggles into new, potentially more hospitable, forums. ”


“Key points :
– Freedom of access to knowledge for EU citizens is trapped in a complex web of national laws and local licensing arrangements
– Current EU copyright law does not enable the vision of either a “Europe of knowledge” in the Bologna Process or of a “unified” European Research Area to be realised
– Exceptions and limitations harmonised to fit best practice are required to allow content to move digitally across Member States in support of education, research and libraries
– European Parliament support for open content licensing will strengthen authors’ rights, meet the needs of researchers, teachers and learners, and enable the free flow of knowledge in support of the “fifth freedom”