Libraries, Archives and Museums Team at SCCR33IFLA joined a coalition of international and national NGOs at the 33rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) on 14-18 November 2016. While IFLA works to achieve individual reforms at the national and regional level, WIPO is still the most effective place for achieving change which will allow libraries around the world to do their jobs in a digital age.


A Unique Platform

SCCR in particular provides a unique opportunity to bring day-to-day challenges for libraries to the attention of diplomats and policy-makers. The 33rd meeting of offered an important chance to highlight some of them:


Contract terms that prevent libraries and their users from doing what exceptions and limitations to copyright allow under the law. A bar on removing technological protection measures which prevent legitimate uses of works. The uncertainty and fear of prosecution created by vague laws when all librarians are doing is pursuing key parts of their mandates, for example to preserve cultural heritage.


The IFLA Delegation, led by Winston Tabb, and its partners from across the libraries, archives and museums community, delivered more than twenty interventions. They drew on practical experience in order to set out the need for action at WIPO, not only to support librarians driving for reform nationally, but also to allow for work across borders. Member states added their own, building the case for reform.


Helloes, Goodbyes and a Turning Point?

The visit also offered an opportunity to hold a first formal meeting with Sylvie Forbin, the new Deputy Director General of WIPO. Ms Forbin is responsible for copyright and creative industries, and brings extensive experience. We look forward to working with her to reailse WIPO’s unique potential to achieve real progress for libraries and their users.


It was, however, the last meeting to be chaired by Martin Moscoso, who has led the Committee for the last three years. He has been effective and fair to libraries, and has ensured all stakeholders have the opportunity to feed into the debate. We will miss him.


The next SCCR meeting will be a crucial one. The Committee has a mandate to discuss libraries, but the shape and direction of this discussion remains open. After years of engagement, there is near universal support for the missions of libraries, and wide understanding of what they and their users need.


There is now an opportunity to bring forward new ideas, responding to the widely shared desire for progress. IFLA looks forwards to working with its members and their governments to achieve this.