The Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is currently examining the restrictive terms applied to the licensing of eBooks in both public and academic libraries.
The Library Association of Ireland has previously warned that libraries here are encountering more and more issues with eBooks including “scandalous” price increases, restrictive licensing terms, and a lack of availability.
Currently, more than 40% of the national collection of eBook titles have restrictions on them, where limits are placed on the number of loans per title or time limits on the licensing agreement.
Minister for Rural and Community Issues Heather Humphreys said her department is aware of the issue regarding the restrictive terms.
“My department is working in conjunction with the Libraries Development Unit in the LGMA (Local Government Management Agency) and representatives of the Library Association of Ireland, to seek a resolution to this issue.”
In response to a parliamentary question asked by Sinn Féin TD, Rose Conway-Walsh, Ms Humphreys said the provision of library services is “primarily a matter for local authorities”. However, her department has provided funding to support the provision of eBooks and eAudiobooks, including €1.14 million in 2020 and 2022 in response to the increased demand arising from the pandemic.
"Officials from my department have engaged with representative bodies at a European level to bring the issue to the attention of the European Commission," she added. "Meetings have also taken place with officials from the Irish CCPC and I understand that the CCPC are currently examining the matter. My department will continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders."