Dutch lawsuit over sale of used e-books to European Court

Dutch lawsuit over sale of used e-books to European Court

Photo: AFP

The European Court of Justice must determine whether the sale of second-hand e-books allowed. A Dutch case about that matter is referred to the highest European court.

The district court of The Hague stated Wednesday, ask the Court in a case between e-bookverkopen Tom Cabinet and two Dutch uitgeversverbonden since 2014.

On the site of Tom Kabinet can people their legally purchased e-books to resell to others. Each time a payment of 50 cents made to the author. The publishers find nevertheless that the resale is a violation of their copyright, and that an e-book only intended for one buyer.

In 2015 decided the Amsterdam court of appeal that the second-hand sale of e-books in principle is allowed, if the original book is legally purchased. The court ruled that Tom Kabinet must verify that that is indeed the case. Do the site now, on the basis of invisible watermarks in e-books.


The court now wants the Court to ask or e-books, under the European directive on copyright the same should be treated as paper books. For paper books is that authors have control over the sale of new copies of their work, but that right then is “exhausted”. Therefore, second-hand books without the permission of the author will be resold.

The publishers carry that digital books do not wear out and have different functions, such as the ability to the letters to enlarge and to order the book search. Therefore e-books are treated differently, they find.

Tom Cabinet and the publishers may still respond to the proposed questions of the court, before they get to the Court, be sent. The European court examines probably next year on the issue. Meanwhile, may Tom Cabinet to continue with the provision of second-hand e-books.

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