THE LEGAL CHALLENGES FACED BY DIGITAL LIBRARIES
Transilvania University of Brasov (ROMANIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The main aim of the present paper is to render the correlations between digital libraries and the laws applying to this domain. At present, digital libraries store millions of items in their archives, which are at the public’s fingertips, in this context this phrase being susceptible of both a literal and a figurative meaning. At the same time, they improve cultural preservation and dissemination. The ongoing impact of such online collections of data can be related to multiple areas, such as technology, economics, and law. Concerning the legal aspect, digital libraries are facing copyright restrictions, being in a constant conflict of interests with those who own intellectual property rights over those particular works, namely authors, publishers, and so on. For this reason, such online archives will commonly encompass books which are not subject to copyright. A relevant example is the recent series of copyright trials against the gargantuan Google corporation, the respective rulings representing a valuable and up-to-date source of information regarding the current position of the judiciary on how the copyright laws and antitrust regulations apply to digital libraries. With reference to these issues, in the Copyright tradition, one of the limitations of the author’s rights is represented by the so-called ‘fair use’ doctrine, which attempts at creating a balance between the author’s interest and that of the public. The reaction of the European Union to the trend of digitalisation is Europeana, the online multilingual library of Europe, a project initiated by the European Commission and launched in 2008. Moreover, on this occasion, the miscellaneous nature of the European legal framework was brought into light, raising awareness for forthcoming legislative proposals. Another notable aspect on the legal ground is the connection between digital libraries and electronic commerce. Thus, there are numerous aspects to be considered when approaching digital libraries from a legal point of view, the provisions under discussion belonging to various branches of law. The challenges brought about by the development of this highly dynamic domain reveal the need to re-think certain pieces of legislation. As a conclusion, a thorough description of the outstanding possibilities brought about by the digital era cannot be complete without an in-depth analysis of the digital library phenomenon, which, in the foreseeable future, is likely to change both research methods and the laws related to this field, moving towards a universal objective.
Keywords: digital libraries, copyright, fair use, antitrust regulations, electronic commerce.