Libraries were front and centre at the Creative Commons Global Summit 2018, sharing both their commitment to openness and their skills in making this a reality. IFLA was there, engaging in discussions and promoting work on open access at the UN and other intergovernmental organisations.  

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Creative Commons is built on the belief that access to, and re-use of knowledge and creativity is good for our societies. This is a conviction long held by libraries. By collecting, preserving, and giving access to works, regardless of wealth, they have advanced public debate, supported innovation, and given individuals the possibility to live healthier and richer lives.  The potential for cooperation was clear at Creative Commons annual global meeting, held on 13-15 April in Toronto, Canada.

In a digital age, libraries can contribute to realising openness in three main ways. They hold important collections which have the potential to inspire and inform. They can help users deliver on this potential by providing space and encouragement for creativity. And they have an expertise which can be indispensable in organising knowledge to make it discoverable. As a number of sessions underlined, there are many libraries already doing all of these.

Yet as a keynote speech from Professor Ruth Okediji of Harvard noted, laws designed for the traditional model of buying and selling copyrighted works tended to restrict access and harm efforts in favour of openness. In this, libraries stand alongside other promotors of openness, such as Wikipedia, Mozilla, and of course Creative Commons, in calling for laws that better reflect the value of openness.  

IFLA’s own presentation covered the results of research into the usage of Creative Commons and other open licences in intergovernmental organisaitons such as the UN. These bodies have a strong influence on policy-making in many counties, and also serve as an example for others. While some, such as the World Bank, UNESCO or the World Intellectual Property Organisation have taken a leading role, the story elsewhere is frequently of inconsistency, restrictions and a lack of clarity. Given their unique public mission, there is a duty on these organisations to adopt open practices.

You can download the notes and presentation from IFLA’s session, as well as reading our blogs from days one, two and three of the summit. We also welcome contacts from members of the global library community who are involved in Creative Commons at any level.