Copyright in times of crisis

Who needs Copyright?

Extreme situations call for extreme measures, no doubt. To give away for free other people’s content and pointing at Covid-19 as the ultimate excuse, is extreme, indeed. This is, apparently, what the National Emergency Library is happily doing: using the current pandemic to instigate piracy at a massive scale.

Obviously, the situation seems tempting: no harm will come to any librarian for making books available to readers. This is their job, and they do it with pleasure. And it usually works for all involved. The libary pays a fee to the publisher who pays the author’s royalties. And everyone is happy.

During the spread of the coronavirus, some librarians are happier without the limits of copyright. Most libraries around the world have scanning facilities at an almost industrial standard. And they need as well as use them. Again, within the confines of rules and regulations, most people are still happy. (In Germany, publishers not so much, since they do not participate in the fees paid by the academic libraries in a lot of instances. The authors, however, still recieve their reimbursements.) And still, there is hunger for less copyright, less willingness to compensate authors and publishers, all in the name of being of utmost support for the reading public.

There are many books rightfully available for free. Why is piracy necessary? And what will this do to authors and publishers during the currenct crisis, and beyond?