Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives

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Copyright limitations and exceptions are fundamental for access to knowledge and thus for human and social development.

Why is IFLA advocating for copyright reform at WIPO?

Copyright laws are meant to balance the public interest in accessing information with the rights of authors, artists, and publishers. In some countries, copyright laws include provisions so libraries and archives can provide public access to the world’s knowledge—but in many countries, these exceptions apply only to resources that exist in traditional formats. Outdated copyright laws increasingly prevent libraries and archives from performing their most basic functions, simply because resources are now digital. In a number of countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America, there are no exceptions safeguarding the services of libraries and archives at all.

As rules in favor of copyright holders have increased through binding global treaties, rules for libraries and archives that enable access to information have stayed frozen. The result is a broken copyright system that:

  • Deepens inequalities in public knowledge and skills
  • Creates permanent holes in the historical record
  • Prevents information created today from being available for future generations

IFLA believes that international action is needed to ensure essential library and archive functions continue to be preserved in copyright laws.

What would an international framework look like?

IFLA is seeking an international framework that will facilitate library lending, inter library loan and document supply in digital and print forms; enable use of orphan works; ensure the ability to acquire eBooks from publishers; protect library exceptions from override by contract; among other important library activities. The Treaty Proposal on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives was created by library and archive experts to guide Member States at the SCCR on model copyright provisions and needs to support the activities of these sectors.

What stage are the negotiations at?

Following the successful conclusion of a treaty to ensure access to works for visually impaired people (the Marrakesh Treaty) in June 2013, copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives are high on the SCCR agenda. This is an important opportunity to establish the concerns of libraries and archives, and build momentum to advance SCCR discussions towards an international instrument.  

Last update: 30 September 2016

Latest News

IFLA sends comments to the Senate of the Republic of Colombia on the copyright reform

Colombia is now in the process of reforming its copyright law (Ley 23 de 1982). In view of this reform and of the debate at the Comisión Primera of the Honourable Senate of the Republic of Colombia, IFLA submitted written comments and suggestions for specific changes to the bill.

17 April 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Advocacy, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives, Colombia

La IFLA envía comentarios al Senado de la República de Colombia para la reforma de derechos de autor

Colombia está en proceso de reformar su Ley de Propiedad Intelectual (Ley 23 de 1982). En vista de esta reforma y de un debate en la Comisión Primera del Honorable Senado de la República de Colombia, la IFLA ha enviado comentarios y sugerencias de cambios específicos.

17 April 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Advocacy, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives, Colombia

Aiming High: IFLA Initial Submission to WIPO Consultation on Collective Management

IFLA has submitted initial comments on a draft document on best practices for collective management organisations produced by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). This initiative marks a welcome recognition that the legitimacy of the copyright system depends on the professionalism and good practice of all actors involved in it.

4 April 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives