Wall comes down for CLM in Glasgow!

IFLA’s Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM) had another successful week of activity at the IFLA Conference in Glasgow.

CLM’s Update session has quickly become a regular feature of the Conference programme, and room planners need to know that the session is always filled to capacity. This year, delegates were spilling out of the tiny room’s doorway long before the session’s start, but as luck would have it the room next door was empty. With an inspired suggestion from one delegate and quick work from the conference centre staff, the dividing wall was removed and the room doubled in size, still filling to standing room only. This year’s session updated delegates on the European Copyright Directive; the activities of the WTO, in particular GATS and other international trade treaties; and the difficult issues surrounding circumvention technology in the USA. Presentations on public lending right and on copyright activity in South Africa completed this extremely full programme. Regrettably there was little time left for questions which are so important in an update session such as this, and the organisers will ensure that next year’s Update includes time for a question and answer session.

CLM’s open session this year was on the subject of repatriation of cultural heritage material, focussing on the legal issues which arise when libraries are faced with a challenge over the ownership of material in their collections. Debate over ownership or the rightful home for library items may arise when national boundaries are redrawn or when the provenance of valuable material is disputed and cannot be proven. Examples where libraries had been involved in such debate were provided from USA, Russia and Denmark, and Norman Palmer, from University College London described the relevant international conventions and legal framework. Speakers concluded that, although a legal framework is essential, the complex issues surrounding the best means of preserving valuable items and ensuring effective access to them cannot always be decided by the law. Adherence to agreed conventions might often be the best way forward in what can be an emotive and sensitive issue for libraries.

One further session was also co-sponsored by CLM. "Legal deposit and copyright laws" was a joint National Libraries/CLM session, at which CLM Chair, Marianne Scott presented a paper on the relationship between legal deposit and copyright law.

CLM also had two business meetings during the Conference. The activities of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) continue to be a cause for concern, in particular the effect of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) on public library services. Libraries and library associations are urged to increase awareness of the potentially damaging effect of GATS, and to speak to national trade ministers to draw their attention to these issues. The IFLA Position on the World Trade Organisation can be found at /III/clm/p1/wto-ifla.htm. TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) is another WTO agreement that aims to set common standards for the intellectual property regimes of member countries. All member countries must implement TRIPS by 2006, and CLM has produced a short document, "Tips for TRIPS" to help libraries understand the implications of this. Tips for TRIPS can be found at /III/clm/p1/tt-ifla.htm

Another concern for CLM members is the relationship between contract law and copyright laws. A study on this issue has recently been carried out in Australia and the results are awaited with interest The arrival of digital rights management systems (DRM) has raised concerns that the traditional exceptions to copyright protection allowed for by law are being eroded. CLM is considering what action should be undertaken on DRM.

CLM has worked hard on building links with other relevant organisations for more effective action on important issues. Representation at key international copyright events is vital, and CLM will continue to work closely with EBLIDA and other library organizations to this end. CLM has provided input to a major UNESCO study on limitations and exceptions to copyright and neighbouring rights in the digital environment. During their meetings, CLM members also discussed the issue of education and training in copyright, an essential subject for today’s librarians, but it is still not clear what role CLM can play here.


CLM, October, 2002