International copyright reform
IFLA has an essential role in fighting for the interests of libraries and their users in discussions about copyright reform at the global level.
The ability of libraries to fulfil their mission depends in large part on the laws that govern how they can work with materials in their collections and beyond. Outdated or restrictive copyright rules can reduce the impact libraries can have, while modern laws can enable new uses and new reach, without unreasonably harming markets.
Our institutions therefore need laws that allow for limitations on, or exceptions to copyright in order to carry out activities such as preservation, lending, or copying for users in a digital, globalised world without facing unnecessary barriers.
However, this is not always the case, with libraries in many countries not even being able to rely on a core minimum set of limitations and exceptions. Cooperation across borders is often uncertain, given the lack of international provisions on these questions.
For both of these reasons, IFLA is committed to working on behalf of the global library field, with and through the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to make the case for international action that supports the work of libraries, notably at its Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).
WIPO is the United Nations agency responsible for copyright and other intellectual property (IP) issues. It works to oversee the international IP system and has a unique role in developing agreements and laws.
Action from WIPO can give Member States everywhere the guidance they need to modernise national copyright laws. It can also give libraries and their users legal certainty when working across borders, in support of research, preservation, and access to culture.
It has, in particular, already proven its potential by administering the Marrakesh Treaty, which removes unnecessary barriers to making and sharing copies of books in accessible formats for people with print disabilities.
We look forward to similar progress for the benefit of libraries and their users globally.