HC Deb 16 December 1999 vol 341 c236W
Ms Perham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the effects of the proposed EU Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society on(a) library and archive services, (b) UK library and archive privileges and their extension to digital copying, (c) lawful copying and use of libraries and archives and (d) music reproduction; and if he will make a statement on the inclusion in the proposed EU Directive of the exhaustive list of exceptions to the restricted acts. [102542]

Dr. Howells

While we do not think that the effects of the draft Directive would be particularly problematic in the case of archival operations, we are concerned about its potential impact on library services and privileges. Our concerns stem chiefly from the exhaustive list of exceptions, which we have always felt is unnecessarily prescriptive and inflexible, and have been increased by European Parliament amendments, largely accepted by the Commission, which seek to restrict further the exception provisions. In particular, these amendments make photocopying and research exceptions in the Directive subject to "fair compensation" for right owners, exclude printed music from the photocopying exception, and limit the only specific library exception to copying for conservation purposes.

Overall, our aim is to ensure that it remains possible to achieve a fair and reasonable balance between the interests of right owners and those of users, such as in the library and archive sectors, and we are therefore pressing strongly for much greater flexibility in the exception provisions. Negotiations on the Directive are still some way from conclusion, and we hope that it will prove possible to obtain improvements, particularly since several other member states share many of our concerns about the approach on exceptions. Moreover, we are aware of the potential conflict between exceptions and the use of technical protection measures by right owners, and, like other member states, are seeking to achieve an appropriate balance in this area also.