The German Federal Supreme Court decides on digitized books in libraries under copyright aspects

In a decision of April 16, 2015 (I ZR 69/11) the German Federal Supreme Court had to deal with public libraries which provide in their rooms electronic reading facilities. Hereto books which are available in the inventory have been digitized to make them available at electronic reading facilities. At these reading facilities, no more specimens could be read electronically than hard copies were available in the library. It was, however, possible to print the oeuvre completely or in parts or to store it on a USB-stick and to take it away from the library. The German Federal Supreme Court has in that respect referred questions to the European Court of Justice relating to the interpretation of EU directive 2001/29. Respecting the responses provided by the European Court of Justice, the German Federal Supreme Court came to the conclusion that under the preconditions under which an oeuvre can be made available at electronic reading facilities, the provision of hereto necessary copies is admissible too. This also applies if these copies of the users of electronic reading facilities are not only read but also printed or stored. Natural persons are allowed to make copies for private use. The operator of electronic reading devices is only liable for illegal copies if he did not take the necessary and reasonable precautionary measures to prevent an illegal copying.