Australian libraries can now use book cover images with confidence

The Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) have come to a landmark agreement to allow libraries to use book covers to promote books and authors without seeking permission each time.

Currently under Australian copyright law, there isn’t a clear exception that allows libraries and archives to reproduce book covers on their websites and at their facilities. While such uses might be permitted under the s200AB flexible dealing exception, this will depend on all the circumstances, and requires a complex decision making process by libraries. This means that many libraries are currently reluctant to use book cover images when promoting their collections.

The agreement between the APA and ALIA  means that libraries can now feel confident to use book images in catalogues, displays, posters, websites and social media to promote the books whose copyright is owned by Australian publishers.

Michael Gordon-Smith, Chief Executive of APA, said: “It’s a simple commonsense approach. Publishers and authors have nothing to lose. They may even reach more readers or make more sales as a result. We’re delighted to be working with ALIA, and to show that we can make things easier without damaging the fundamental property rights of authors or the businesses of publishers. This is the first step in what we hope will be a longer project to improve mutual understanding.”

Sue McKerracher, Chief Executive Officer of ALIA, said: “Libraries, especially public and school libraries, need clarity. We can now use book covers to promote reading without wondering whether we need to seek permission from each individual publisher. It has been a long term problem for libraries and we are grateful to the publishers for their willingness to work together with us on resolving this and other issues to make copyright work for us all.”

The APA and ALIA will be releasing more details of the agreement later in the year.