CREATe Centre at University of Glasgow to Lead Research on eBook Markets for the Knowledge Rights 21 Programme

17 October 2022

The Knowledge Rights 21 Programme is happy to announce that we will be working with the UK Copyright and Creative Economy Centre (CREATe) at the University of Glasgow in order to build stronger understanding among policy makers, libraries and others about the way in which eBook markets are working.

The challenges identified by national campaigns such as eBookSOS in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as the work led by the German Library Association, indicate that not all is well in eBook markets. Among the issues reported, there are high prices – including spectacular price increases – terms of use which are ill-suited to needs, refusals to licence to libraries, or most recently, the removal of eBooks from subscribed packages just before the start of a term, all of which prevents libraries from operating collections policies steered alone by the needs of their users.

Without guarantees in law around possibilities to acquire and lend eBooks, there are few obligations on those licensing eBooks to behave in ways that uphold public interest goals such as those pursued by libraries. In other words, the market is left relatively unregulated.

The crucial question is whether the resulting situation bears the characteristics of a market failure which would require government intervention. This is what the team at Glasgow will investigate, under the leadership of Professor Martin Kretschmer, working with Dr Kenny Barr, Dr Magali Eben, and Matteo Frigeri.

The research will review both existing law and literature about competition law and economics as they relate to library eBook markets, as well as information about the real-life experience of libraries in this space. Through this, it will provide key references and insights for discussing questions around the operation of these markets.

We very much look forward to sharing the results of this work to provide better information in discussions and debates about whether eBook markets are working for libraries and their users.

CREATe is the UK Copyright & Creative Economy Centre. It was established in 2012 as the result of a competition for a national centre for “copyright and new business models in the creative economy”. CREATe’s research is located at the intersection of law, technology, social sciences and humanities. Hosted by the University of Glasgow (Advanced Research Centre ARC, and School of Law) projects are currently organised under the themes of Creative IndustriesPublic Domain and Competition and Markets.

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