Japanese national library to digitize books; distribution uncertain

Japanese e-library project could lose out to Google Book Search without government flex, editorial, The Mainichi Daily News, July 23, 2009.

… Japan’s National Diet Library (NDL) is also accelerating the digitization of its book collection. The move follows a recent revision to Japan’s Copyright Law, allowing the NDL to digitize books without right-holders’ permission, as well as a large budget increase for digitization of books under the supplementary budget.

However, one needs to obtain permission from individual right-holders before publicizing digitized books online in Japan. …

Online distribution for a fee has already become common in the music industry. It is hoped that the Japanese government will flexibly proceed with legal revisions so as to facilitate online distribution of books’ content in Japan, including the e-library project.

Copyright law and online books, editorial, The Japan Times, August 23, 2009.

… In Japan, the Copyright Law was revised June 12, enabling the National Diet Library to digitize its books. The fiscal 2009 supplementary budget allocates ¥12.6 billion for digitizing about 920,000 titles or about one-fourth the books owned by the library in one to two years’ time.

But the National Diet Library has to negotiate with copyright holders and publishing houses on the extent to which the digitized titles should be made available. The publishing industry fears that if the titles go online, the industry will suffer. As the Diet library director Mr. Makoto Nagao said, the library and the publishing industry should create a system that will enable their coexistence and co-prosperity, and contribute to enhancing Japan’s cultural level.