Too early, too fast? The regulation of the eBook market in France and its possible effects on EU libraries
Until now, legislative interventions on eBooks and libraries have been applied to mass digitization programmes. France has taken further steps, with general regulation of the eBook market. Over and above the French “cultural exception”, the eBook price-maintenance law of May 26, 2011, and the decrease in the eBook VAT rate decided in 2012 will have profound effects on this sector and, perhaps, could prevent the strains between publishers and libraries seen in the USA.
Moreover there is a problem with regulation, namely: what is an eBook? The French Parliament laid the foundations for the debate, but the answers depend on the EU authorities, who have to define a clear policy. The ongoing discussions could have a major consequence: is the eBook, becoming a juridical object, subjected to the “digital renting and lending right”, in line with the 2006 Council directive? This may be the first step towards regulation of the European library market.
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