C4C Members Hold Successful UNESCO Workshop on Shift from Ownership to Access Models

What exactly do you purchase when you buy an iTunes song or an ebook for your Kindle? And what are you allowed to do with it?

These were the types of questions explored at a workshop organised by the International Federation of Libraries Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) during the UNESCO WSIS +10 Review Meeting in Paris this week. The two C4C members invited a broad group of experts including rightsholders, consumers, librarians, artists, digital entrepreneurs and representatives from Government and the technology sector to discuss this important new topic and put it on the international policy agenda.

Natali Helberger from the Institute of Information Law in Amsterdam explained that the main difference between ownership and buying a license (e.g. to access an ebook) is the exhaustion principle, which restricts control over the use of a work. The lack of an exhaustion principle for digital goods is a major problem for libraries as IFLA’s Gerald Leitner explained, because it affects what libraries can offer to their users under what conditions. A number of speakers agreed on the need for more robust consumer rights in the online environment.

Another concern shared by most participants was the need for more transparency: Both between artists and copyright intermediaries when it comes to royalty payments, between intermediaries and digital services with regards to rights management information and between digital services and consumers regarding the terms of services.

Click here for a detailed summary and a set of recommendations coming out of this workshop.