Researchers and librarians have expressed concern after post-Brexit copyright rules forced the British Library to take down a digitised version of the feminist magazine Spare Rib.
On 1 January the UK government repealed the European Union’s orphan works exception, meaning UK-base institutions can no longer digitise copyrighted works for which the rights holder is not known or cannot be found.
As the UK can no longer take advantage of EU orphan works exceptions the @BLpressoffice has had to take down their digitised editions of Spare RIb - https://t.co/Sp3ZrHTYyK— David Prosser (@RLUK_David) January 14, 2021
The library community has made representations to the Government on this for a couple of years, to no apparent effect. Importing the exception into local law would have been an easy win - now we're in a worse position than we were on 31 December https://t.co/TQSQnnkANu— David Prosser (@RLUK_David) January 14, 2021
David Prosser, RLUK’s Executive Director, commented in Research Fortnight:
‘Any organisation that has been digitising content over the past few years relying on the orphan works exception will have to make the difficult decision to either try and go down the licensing route that the government has put in place – which is rather complex, expensive and time-limited – or they have to do what the British Library has done and take the material down.
It is particularly infuriating that this is happening at exactly the time that a lot of libraries are physically shut and so readers cannot even go into the library to view the physical originals’.