Copyright and the Single Market: Debunking the Myths

The Publishers Association has created a short PDF to help publishers to defend the key tenets of copyright and debunk some of the most commonly held misconceptions on the subject.  Here is a summary of the ten points it makes.

1.        Copyright needs to be modernised to achieve the digital single market

 Copyright is delivering a digital single market. The ability of publishers to simultaneously license works across the EU – and in many cases the world – derives from the current copyright framework.

2.       Exceptions need to be harmonised so that rights don’t change at each border

Fully harmonising exceptions so that the same rules are mandated across the EU will be hugely disruptive and would result in some creators being deprived of rights. There are different legal traditions across the EU with long-established precedents in place.

3.       Text and data mining is not possible without an exception

It is possible – and has been for years. Publishers have long been developing tools and services to enable researchers to text and data mine journals; many research publishers make it available for no extra charge.

4.       University students can’t access online resources across borders

Yes, they can. Academic publishers work closely with universities to provide their content in the most appropriate format to meet the needs of students, wherever they may be based.

5.       Copyright stops me buying e-books on any device, and from reading my e-books when I am abroad

It’s not copyright, it’s the retailers’ policy (and only operated by certain retailers). 

6.       School teachers are not able to access resources published in other EU member states

There is no effective demand for this. In both the primary and secondary school markets textbooks and other resources are produced explicitly to assist the delivery of each member state’s curriculum.

7.       Libraries cannot lend e-books without there being a change in copyright law

Libraries already can – and do – lend e-books under the current copyright law. A variety of agreements between authors, publishers and libraries are in place across the EU which are giving rise to thriving models of e-book lending.

8.        The American “Fair Use” Copyright regime would be far better

The introduction of Fair Use would be highly disruptive and expensive for creators and consumers. There is no established basis in European law for the concept of “fair use”, whereas in the US it has been fine-tuned over 170 years of established legal precedents. 

9.       Education is a social good, therefore, schools should not have to pay for textbooks

Just because something is a social good does not imply it should be free. Textbooks are no different from teachers in this respect – and it could not be argued that teachers should work without pay.

10.   An e-book is the same as a normal book and therefore I should be able to resell it

It is not the same. Physical and digital books have very different properties and so require different treatments as regards the ability to re-sell them. An e-book is easier to copy and digital copies are identical clones of the original work, meaning that second-hand goods are largely indistinguishable from the original.

The full PDF may be found at