French Law 2012-287: Database of Digitized 20th Century Books

Law 2012-287 was published in the Official Journal of France on March 2, 2012. The law, which amended France’s Intellectual Property Code, proposes building a free, public database of digitized books that were published in the 20th Century and are no longer in commercial distribution. The Bibliothèque national de France (BNF) would be in charge of creating and administering the database.

Publishers and rights holders will have 6 months to challenge inclusion of a book in the database. It also appears that after raising a challenge, publishers have three years to demonstrate a market for the book, or that they have created their own digitized version.

I did not see a specific appropriation of funds in the bill, so it is unclear to me how the BNF will finance the project.

Reaction on French law librarian mailing lists and blogs has been positive, but muted. Wait and see seems to be the prevailing sentiment.

Whether this bill leads to a free database or not, let’s hope that it spurs debate in France, Europe, and across the Atlantic, about the role of digitized books in society.

Law 2012-287 relative à l’exploitation numérique des livres indisponibles du XXe siècle.

Full-text of the bill and links to legislative history materials are available at

Some authors’ groups have already criticized the bill for ignoring copyright law. For example, see the petition circulated by writer Yal Ayerdhal:

Additional commentary on the bill from the Rue89 blog

“By the Book” by Rita Reusch: Thinking about the Future of Law Library Print Collections

University of Utah Quinney College of Law professor and law library director Rita T. Reusch has a considered article in the latest Law Library Journal issue [vol. 100, no. 3, Summer 2008]: By the Book: Thoughts on the Future of Our Print Collections.

The abstract reads:

Academic law libraries are increasingly confronting issues relating to the future of their print collections. The decline in use of print materials and the financial pressures of trying to maintain duplicative print and electronic collections force difficult choices. This article discusses these and other issues — philosophical and practical — that come into play in this changing environment.