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A million-dollar U.K. digital library.

In what may be a significant step toward creating a national digital library for higher education in the U.K., two not-for-profit bodies have "exciting" plans to produce a national bibliographic database over the coming months. U.K.-based Jisc, which provides digital and technical services to higher and further education, is joining forces with OCLC to develop a national bibliographical knowledgebase (NBK). Once live, the NBK will aggregate, collect, and provide data and give details of publications.

OCLC's Eric van Lubeek says, "The NBK will also interoperate with a number of sources to describe where books are kept, in what formats and under what conditions they are available to be used. Going forward we will ... integrate this service with additional discovery, analysis and management tools, including WorldShare Management Services."

Emily Jones, Jisc's media relations manager, says catalog data will be drawn from 225 U.K. academic and specialist libraries and will form the core of aggregated data within the NBK. "One of the aims of the NBK is to make the data as globally accessible and visible as possible and so from a discovery perspective, the library catalogue data will be openly searchable and available."

The NBK beta version should be live in January 2018, with the project as a whole due to go live a year later. Jones says OCLC was chosen because of its "evident expertise." She adds that Jisc is funding the project to the tune of 1 million [pounds sterling] (about $1.2 million). Students and researchers will have free access to the NBK, she says.

Historical Hebrew Collection Gets New Home

Experts at the National Library of Israel (NLI) will have more on their plates after its recent acquisition of the Valmadonna Trust Library, which has Hebrew books and manuscripts from the 16th to 19th centuries and a book of the Pentateuch from 1491. The collection was acquired via a private sale (and at an undisclosed cost) by global auctioneer Sotheby's and was funded by the Heim and Hana Solomon Fund, says Aviad Stollman, the NLI's head of collections.

The books will be "eventually made available like all other books in the library. In addition, we plan to digitize the entire [Valmadonna Trust Library], ... [W]e plan to present many of the books in the permanent exhibition of the NLI. I hope that within a year or so we will be able to both process the collection and make it freely available online," Stollman says.

According to Sotheby's, in December 2015, a "selection" of items from the Valmadonna

Trust Library sold at auction for a total of $14.9 million.

Marrakesh Treaty Ratification Is Touch and Go

Meanwhile, despite the objections of eight member states, the European Union (EU) was recently given the legal go-ahead to ratify the 2013 Marrakesh Treaty, which requires signatories to provide the visually impaired with easier access to copyrighted published works.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the EU has the right "acting on its own" to conclude the Marrakesh Treaty. France, the U.K., Finland, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Lithuania had argued that the EU does not have this exclusive competence. In a statement, the court says the Marrakesh Treaty "lays down an obligation (not merely an option) to introduce an exception or limitation for the benefit of certain persons with disabilities.... [O]nce the treaty is concluded, all the Member States will be required to introduce the exception or limitation for persons with a disability."

The court says the Marrakesh Treaty falls into an area that is already covered "to a large extent" by "common EU rules"--ones that apply to all member states. This includes the copyright directive, which may be affected by Marrakesh Treaty ratification. Expect this issue to run on for a while yet.

Copying Course Packs at Delhi University

Another case that may run on is one brought by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Taylor & Francis against Delhi University's Rameshwari Photocopy Services, which sells study packs containing photocopied copyrighted material.

The three publishers are alleging breach of copyright.

The High Court of Delhi dismissed the case in September 2016, but the publishers appealed the verdict, applied for an injunction to stop the photocopying, and have again lost. The judges say the court is "not inclined to grant interim injunction to the appellants but would direct [Rameshwari] to maintain a record of course packs photocopied by it and supplied to the students."

The publishers are mulling over what to do next, but "[i]n the meantime, we wish to reiterate that all publishers continue to work on models that will enable equitable access to knowledge." They say that such access requires a "fair and balanced" framework of reciprocal rights and obligations that include giving due regard to those who create and produce scholarly works.

The court statement gave precise details of the amount of material copied from various works. For example, 19.1% of an Oxford University Press journal, The Past and Present Society, had been copied, while 30% of the 160 pages in Cambridge University Press' work Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction had been copied for a student pack.

This case seems to have touched a nerve with some students in India, leading to the formation of a body called the Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge. "Knowledge over Copyright! Access over Profits!" is their rallying cry--one I don't suppose is a mantra at Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Taylor & Francis.

John Charlton writes about technology, law, and education for several publications. Send your comments about this column to

Links to the Source

Jisc and OCLC partnership announcement

National Library of Israel acquisition of Valmadonna Trust Library announcement

Court of Justice of the European Union statement on the Marrakesh Treaty

The Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge's Facebook page
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Author:Charlton, John
Publication:Information Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2017
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