Libraries in too many countries around the world lack the basic laws needed to do the best by their communities. And even where laws exist, they frequently fail to take account of the realities of the digital age. As such, the gap between what our communities expect and what libraries are able to offer is growing.

IFLA will therefore be speaking up at the 33rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) at the World Intellectual Property Organisation this week. The current system is not working, and for libraries, there is no serious alternative to international level legal change.

To Be Effective, Exceptions to Copyright Must be Protected

The sustainability and legitimacy of copyright depends on finding balance. Creators deserve fair remuneration, but a healthy society cannot do without equitable and universal access to knowledge. This is what guarantees inspiration and access to the fruits of research today, and prepares the artists and scientists of tomorrow.

SCCR has already addressed a number of areas where exceptions and limitations give the space for key libraries activities – making copies for personal research, undertake preservation, or lending books to give just some examples. These all contribute to a balanced and effective copyright system, as recognised by most WIPO members.

At this meeting, IFLA will underline that if these exceptions and limitations are to count, they need to be protected from abusive contract terms and digital rights management tools. Librarians need also to be protected from disproportionate penalties for honest mistakes.

IFLA will also address the question of exceptions for translation, which would allow libraries to translate works which are not already available in the local language for users’ personal research or education purposes.

Moving Up a Gear

With progress towards substantive progress opposed by the European Union and others, the Committee has failed in previous sessions to reach agreement on where to go next. This time, they will have to find consensus on how to fulfil the mandate received from the General Assembly to continue work on exceptions and limitations. With the EU, which has proved hostile to mandatory, cross-border exceptions now looking to incorporate them internally, there may be room for progress.

Our engagement at SCCR is an opportunity to move towards an effective way of in bringing about change nationally, and promoting international knowledge exchange. We will work with WIPO’s membership to achieve this. Follow us on Twitter (@ifla, @dswyber) for updates throughout the week.

IFLA will make statements on the following topics: broadcasting, limitations on liaibility, contract override, technological protection measures, translation, and copyright in a digital environment.

IFLA has produced handouts in order to inform and support discussion on the following topics: Limitations on Liability, Contract Override, Technological Protection Measures, Translation Exceptions, EU Copyright Reform.