November 28, 2000
Dear Madam, dear Sir,
The European Writers’ Congress / EWC, the Federation of 49 organisations in 26 countries of Europe representing some 50.000 professional writers and literary translators, gratefully acknowledges the moral and financial support received from the members of the Committee on Culture in the past. The Federation of European Publishers /FEP represents national book publishers associations in the Fifteen Member States and Norway.
We would greatly stress that authors and publishers of course have a positive approach to the public services provided by national and other libraries. However, we are dismayed that on the occasion of your discussion of the O’Toole report on “New frontiers in book publishing:
Electronic publishing and print on demand” the reassuring impression was conveyed that the authors in Europe agree with the proposals of the Council of Europe in this matter. In fact the exact opposite is correct. In particular the proposal to create an automatic link between the issue of legal deposit and the exceptions to authors’ rights provided by the proposed Directive on “Harmonisation of … Copyright … in the Information Society” is potentially devastating to the rights and livelihoods of authors – and therefore to the health of European culture.
Much to our regret we have to realize that apparently it was not explained to the Committee on Culture that neither the EWC nor the FEP nor any other representatives of creators in Europe were given an adequate opportunity to contribute to or approve the “Guidelines” put forward by the Council of Europe’s Electronic Publishing, Books and Archives Department – which have been, by the way, rejected by the European Ministers of Culture meeting at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2000.
Writers and book publishers in Europe should like to draw your attention to four facts:
- it never was the European legislator’s intention to change the role of national libraries into Reproduction Rights Organisations or Copyright Clearance Centres,
- this is an extremely dangerous attempt to undermine the results of some five years of negotiations in order to find a common way of protecting copyright & related rights and users’ rights in the information society,
- there is no need at all for the great libraries of Europe to be given the power to bypass authors’ rights
- it was never the ambition for legal deposit to replace traditional networks of books distribution and it should not be so in the future.
From the writers to the booksellers (either physical or online) through the publishers and libraries, every link in the book chain is crucial and needs to be maintained. Therefore, we ask you to support it in its entirety and not to deprive writers and publishers from their revenues by simply offering a compensation which, we all know, is too often derisory.
Legal deposit should not be connected with copyright legislation.
For your information we attach the European Creators’ STRASBOURG RESOLUTION in English, French and German, adopted on November 16, 2000 and thank you very much indeed for taking into consideration the arguments of authors and publishers in Europe before finalising the EP position on the O’Toole report.
We are at your entire disposal to further explain our position on this essential issue.
Lore Schultz-Wild Mechthild von Alemann
General Secretary EWC Director FEP