PA welcomes EU court ruling on e-book exhaustion rights

PA welcomes EU court ruling on e-book exhaustion rights

​The Publishers Association has welcomed the latest ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the exhaustion of e-book rights, which has found the re-sale of second-hand e-books infringes copyright. 

The EU's highest court stepped in after a request from Rechtbank Den Haag (District Court, The Hague, Netherlands) seeking clarification on the resale of e-books on Tom Kabinet after two groups representing Dutch copyright owners filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the website. Tom Kabinet had argued that exhaustion rights for physical books should also apply to digital copies. 

The CJEU today (19th December) ruled that the exhaustion of copyright does not apply to e-books and follows the opinion of Advocate General Maciej Szpunar issued in September.  

Stephen Lotinga, c.e.o. of the Publishers Association, said: "We welcome today’s ruling, which confirms the ability of rights holders to control the re-sale of e-books and recognises the fundamental difference between digital and physical formats in this context. Any other judgement would have been disastrous for authors and publishers so it’s a relief that the court has seen sense and it's an early Christmas present to everyone in the industry."

The Federation of European Publishers (FEP) also welcomed the judgement. FEP president Rudy Vanschoonbeek said: "As a publisher, I was anxiously awaiting the judgement as a second-hand digital market would seriously endanger the whole book economy since digital copies can be numerous and potentially be sold to an indefinite number of users."