French Constitutional Council upholds French Law on out-of-print books

On 28 February 2014, the highest Constitutional authority in France confirmed that Law 2012-287 allowing for the digitisation and making available of protected out-of-print books is consistent with the French Constitution.

The Law provides for the creation of a public database where out-of-print books – defined as books published in France before the 1st of January 2001 that are no longer being marketed or published in printed or electronic form – will be recorded. It also enables a collective management organisation approved by the Ministry of Culture to manage the right of reproduction and making available of out-of-print books in electronic form six months after the books have been added to the database.

The ReLIRE registrar and project were launched shortly after the law was passed and have given the public access to thousands of books so far. IFRRO’s member Sofia has taken part in the project since it started and was approved by the Ministry of Culture as the collective management organisation that offers licences and remunerates rightholders.

In its decision, the Constitutional Council ruled that the legal provisions, which had been challenged, support the general interest by providing access to out-of-print books to the public while ensuring remuneration to rightholders. It also indicated that none of these provisions were in contradiction with the author’s rights since the author has a possibility to withdraw his work from the registrar, and as the law has no effect on the author’s right to exploit his works under other formats than digital.

The decision is available here, and you may find here a press statement released by Sofia (both in French).