Back in April we wrote about how BookaBooka, the Finnish book lending service, had received a cease-and-desist letter from the Finnish copyright agencies. Now BookaBooka decided to halt their business to work out the legal aspects of their lending business to keep the copyright agencies at bay.
The initial contacts from the Finnish copyright agencies weren’t exactly co-operative. I had an e-mail chat with the founder of BookaBooka, Jussi Riku, and he confirmed that they were asked to stop their business on threat of 2 years behind bars. After this BookaBooka agreed to direct their SMS revenues to the copyright holders through the way that would be the best possible for the copyright agency. This was not negotiable and thus they were back to square one. According to Riku, all the discussions between BookaBooka and the copyright agencies were had in public media and thus the talks were not very fruitful.
It has been argued that copyright owners in the music industry are backward and not very interested in shaping their own way to the ways of the customers and users. This seems to be the case as well in the more traditional copyright agencies looking out for the rights of the authors of books, for example. After months of talks, BookaBooka and the copyright agency are finally sitting down to the same table to negotiate better ways in how BookaBooka could continue creating value for individuals that would satisfy the needs of the copyright owners.
Although BookaBooka’s userbase is still small, it has attracted publicity from the students and they have adopted the service in small, but growing masses. There are about 750 000 students, according to Riku, in Finland who have to buy their school books. It’s a huge business naturally, but not necessarily fine-tuned to perform at its best. New innovative services such as BookaBooka could improve the market on an overall level, but since they threaten the existing business of the gatekeepers it seems it’s not like there is an easy solution to this.