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Germany's National Library is now fully licensed to duplicate copy protected electronic books and other digital media such as CDs and CD-ROMs.

The library signed an agreement with the German Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the German Booksellers and Publishers Association after it became clear that its legal mandate to collect, process and index important German and German-language based works would be hampered by the European Copyright Directive. This directive makes it "a criminal offence to break the copy protection or access control systems on digital content such as music, videos, e-books and software".

It is a big question whether the Library needed the authorisation. The same Directive clearly states that "member States should be given the option of providing for exceptions or limitations for cases such as educational and scientific purposes, and for the benefit of public institutions such as libraries".

The object and scope of the agreement seems pretty limited, anyway. The National Library, established in 1990 in a merger of the Deutsche Bücherei Leipzig (founded in 1912) and the Deutsche Bibliothek Frankfurt am Main (1947), is responsible for the collection, processing and indexing of all German and German-language publications issued since 1913.

So, the ever anxious Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) doesn't have to worry that the Germans will legally multiply Michael Jackson's latest CD. Not until he starts singing Rex Gildo’s Greatest Hits. ®

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