Dr. Orit Fischman Afori
E-Books: Licensing Barriers to Access
One of the most significant implications of the development of e-books is in the educational environment. The possibility to allow electronic access to books creates a welcome breakthrough in promoting access to knowledge. Educational libraries may function as an important intermediary, enhancing the exposure to e-books in the education system. However, the move to an e-books model entails a shift to a direct contractual relationship between libraries and publishers as well as other repositories providing access to e-books. One of the greatest threats to the potential success of the e-books model is that such contracts might restrict uses that are permitted by copyright law, and in some cases even restrict access to public domain materials which have been digitized. Overcoming such contractual clauses can be achieved by special tailored cogent exceptions in copyright law, protecting educational libraries from restrictive contracts. Indeed, such intervention with contracts is not usual in common law countries, but there are many justifications for it. Another possible way to overcome the restrictive contracts obstacle is through “best practicesˮ adopted by educational libraries, that would recommend reasonable and fair contractual terms. Such recommendations may have the ability to unify the market power of libraries and place them in a stronger position in designing the licenses regime of e-books.