Jun. 18  2024
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Secure the Fair Use of Digital Libraries

It is unfair to use the copyright law to prevent public use of digital libraries

Source  :  Jinbo in Progress #5

by PatchA / BASE21 media activist

On August 28th, an open conference on the role of digital libraries was held at the hall of the National Human Rights Commission in Seoul, South Korea

Professor Lee Je-hwan said in his presentation, 'The Role of the Library in a Digital Environment,' "Basically, we need to reflect on the real meaning of knowledge and libraries before talking about the role of digital libraries." He added, "Libraries should be cultural fruits in this society. Traditional off-line libraries and digital libraries should complement each other, but this is not the case, because the process of establishing digital libraries is continuing excessively quickly, and so people have a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word 'digital.' Whether libraries are online or offline, they should play an important role of distributing knowledge to the public."

Dr. Jung Kyung-hee gave a presention on "The Digital Library and the Problem of the Copyright Law." After an active discussion session, Dr. Jung said, "The revision of the copyright law requires digital libraries to prevent users from copying digital materials, and it restricts the exchange of digital materials between each library. It also limits access to digital materials that a library holds."

Libraries play a key role in public access to knowledge across and despite social, political, and regional differences. They help narrow the gap between the information "haves" and "have-nots." She added, "Copyright protection is restricted in the case of libraries by article 28 of the copyright law." Article 28 is "an exemption clause" which provides protection to libraries from the copyright law. Dr. Jung pointed out that the previous copyright law had article 28, but the revision restricts article 28 and gives more rights to copyright holders.

Dr. Jung insisted that rights between users and copyright holders should be balanced in the copyright law, but the revision does not consider the role of digital libraries. She says, "The department of copyright law in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which is in charge of the revision, wrongly assumed that if the government establishes digital libraries, the number of books sold would dramatically decrease because everyone would use a digital library instead of purchasing a book. So the ministry tried to limit article 28 in order to protect copyright holders, namely publishers."

She proposed new ideas for the revision of article 28. ▲ No license should be required to distribute non-profit and academic materials. ▲ People should not be charged for fair use of libraries. ▲ benefit principle (this principe means that if anyone who receives some sort ot benefit, he or she should pay for it) should not be applied to digital libraries.

Speaker Jo Wang-keun pointed out that first we need to create a strategy on what contents should be collected and available for digital use and who will use it. He added, "All knowledge has a real value and can contribute to social and cultural development when knowledge is shared and utilized. Everyone is a creator and user of knowledge. So the fair use of knowledge should be secured."

Chun Eung-hui, office manager of PeaceNet, said, "Sometimes, the management process of digital issues has nothing to do with those people directly involved. The discussion on digital libraries is very similar. The key role and value of libraries should be made alive even in the digital era. And the spectrum of public knowledge should also be enlarged."

Oh Byung-il, executive officer of Korean Progressive Network, Jinbonet, answered, "Actually, the current copyright law guarantees the rights of corporate creators such as Microsoft, which can buy the copyright. Individual creators cannot."

People should have fair access to libraries even in the digital era because libraries are public educational facilities. People should have the right to borrow books as well as buy books. In order to make this possible, the number and budget of libraries must be increased.

If users are forced to pay for the use of libraries, the result will be higher profits for publishing corporations, guaranteed by the copyright law.

Creation is based on the free and fair use of public knowledge. The concept of the copyright law is to contribute to the cultural development of society as well as to protect copyright holders.

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