Group photo SCCR31

Discussion of exceptions and limitations to enable access to information continued last week at the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights at WIPO. IFLA and partner organizations from libraries and archives participated actively in the session, offering explanations of how exceptions and limitations for reproduction, legal deposit and lending support the missions of libraries and archives (Exceptions for preservation were discussed at SCCR30, and 7 additional topics will be discussed at future SCCRs).  The ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by Brazil and Australia was a welcome addition to the events of the week, bringing the total ratifications to 13, and increasing future access to information for people with visual impairments.

Inadequate framework and licensing models persist

Many participants, from all regions of the world, observed the critical role of libraries in development and access to information. On the day after the European Union announced its proposals for copyright reform to address cross-border access to information, IFLA was disappointed to once again hear from the EU delegation that they believe the current international framework is adequate to the global digital world and that licensing is an effective and sufficient approach. Libraries and archives provided specific interventions to address this assertion, identifying the characteristics of effective exceptions,  examples of why they are necessary, and why licensing creates barriers. Libraries and archives were once again supported in their endeavours to address cross-border issues by strong statements from many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and the Asia Pacific regions. 

Much of the $24 billion US that libraries spend on information annually is spent on licensed content. Licenses may prohibit reproduction for sharing across borders, prevent the exercise of rights enshrined in copyright law through exceptions and limitations, or allow publishers to withhold the sale of digital content to libraries entirely.

Promoting fair copyright reform

IFLA and our partners will continue to explain the need for cross-border copyright exceptions and limitations at WIPO and promote reform efforts for copyright in the 32 countries that have no exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. Our efforts at WIPO are complemented by support for national reform through the work of the Copyright and Other Legal Matters committee, and workshops such as the recent seminar 'Motores para el Cambio' in Buenos Aires for representatives of national and parliamentary libraries, hosted by the Biblioteca del Congreso de la Nacion.

Libraries and archives were represented at SCCR 31 by the International Federation and Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the International Council on Archives (ICA), the European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA); Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), the Society of American Archivists (SAA); the Deutscher Bibliotheksverband (DBV), the Scottish Council on Archives (SCA) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).