Copyright limitations and exceptions are fundamental for access to knowledge and thus for human and social development.
Every day, libraries in all parts of the world help hundreds of millions of people meet their work, study, research and leisure needs. Being the primary cultural and scientific institutions for providing information as a public good, they preserve our cultural heritage, support education and research, and help people with disabilities to exercise their right to access content.
To fulfil their mission, libraries need international copyright norms, together with limitations and exceptions. Legal flexibilities in copyright, known as limitations and exceptions, provide balance in a copyright system between users and creators of protected works.
Why is that important?
Copyright exceptions enable libraries to preserve and make available works. Established in the print era they have not been updated to meet the needs of the digital age, particularly with respect to digital archiving and virtual learning environments. New technologies have created new opportunities for users to participate in an inclusive information society: Users moved from photocopying chapters from printed books to downloading chapters from e-books. Restrictive copyright laws continue to hamper access and reproduction of material for purposes of knowledge sharing.
An updated system is needed to enable libraries to provide users with both historical and new services; in pace with ongoing technological changes, and to cooperate and share resources across national borders.
What is IFLA doing?
IFLA is working with WIPO Member States to gain support for a binding international instrument on copyright limitations and exceptions to enable libraries to preserve their collections, support education and research, and lend materials. To demonstrate what is needed, IFLA, together with the International Council on Archives (ICA), Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) and Corporación Innovarte, has produced a Treaty proposal (‘TLIB') to guide WIPO's Member States in updating limitations and exceptions for libraries worldwide.
Find out more about limitations and exceptions for libraries at the following pages and learn what you can do to get involved supporting an international binding instrument that meets the needs of libraries in the 21st century.
Last update: 2 February 2014