KR21 commissions work exploring the extent of contract override of core library missions from Digital Republic

The growing place of electronic content in libraries’ offers to their users has meant that licences are playing an ever more important role in determining just what can and cannot be done with copyrighted material 

This is because, where there is no provision to the contrary, licence terms can serve to undermine rights and guarantees offered by exceptions to copyright in legislation. Where this happens, libraries are not only restricted in how they can serve users, but face significant administrative costs in terms of the time taken to assess, resource-by-resource, what can and cannot be done.

While such a situation may support price discrimination and profit extraction by rightholders, it imposes a price on public interest activities, as well as undermining the intention of legislators in setting rules in the first place, effectively privatising copyright law.

In order to explore the extent of this phenomenon, Knowledge Rights 21 is happy to announce that it has now commissioned work [from Digital Republic] to examine a range of the contracts offered to libraries for electronic material, and to assess where and how far these undermine core library activities.

Building on the British Library contracts study of 2008, it will allow KR21 to indicate the extent of the issue, and so the need for clear action to safeguard libraries’ and library users’ rights in the face of copyright privatisation.

We look forward to sharing the results in the first half of 2023. You can see also Digital Republic’s own pages.

Digital Republic is a Bulgarian digital rights association and national coordinator for the KR21 programme for Bulgaria. Digital Republic is also an EDRi affiliate, an institutional member of the Creative Commons Global Network and a member of the Communia Association for the Public Domain. Digital Republic, together with Communia and Open Future, is at the heart of the updated mapping of copyright exceptions and limitations in EU Member States at