WIPO Headquarters, Evening

IFLA attended the 49th General Assemblies of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), from 2-5 October 2017, taking the opportunity to underline the need for action to help libraries guarantee meaningful access to information for their users.

The need for rules around the protection and sharing of ideas to promote development is widely shared – WIPO’s Director General, Francis Gurry, set the tone in his introductory speech by underlining his Organisation’s  willingness to contribute to the fulfilment of all of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Many other countries echoed his words about the difference that decisions taken in Geneva can make around the world, across the board.

Daren Tang, current Chair of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), where IFLA is working to make effective progress on copyright exceptions and limitations, reminded the attendees that copyright, unlike patents or trademarks, is a topic that touches the lives of all citizens, and that changes in this regard are meaningful and challenging.

In the same discussions, Sylvie Forbin, WIPO’s Deputy Director-General, noted efforts to give new momentum to work on exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives, underlined that museums are also part of the picture, and observed positive steps on other issues on the committee’s agenda.

She looked forward to the next meeting of the Committee, where there would be an updated version of the Crews study, which gives an exhaustive overview of copyright rules for libraries around the world, as well as other studies.

A number of other issues relevant to the work of libraries emerged as potential future points for discussion. Mr Gurry cited the internet of things, big data and artificial intelligence as examples, noting that while these were not just intellectual property (IP) issues, it was important to ensure that IP rules could make appositive contribution.

IFLA delivered several statements, making the case for libraries, their contribution to development, and the need for an adequate copyright framework that allows them to do better fulfil their public service mission. We welcomed progress with ratifications of the Marrakesh Treaty, but urged countries to ensure that in doing so, they did not create or maintain unnecessary barriers to access to information.

IFLA will be participating at the 35th Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, which will take place in November 13 to 17.

The statements delivered by IFLA are available to download as pdfs: General Statement, Statement on the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, Statement on the Marrakesh Assembly.

You can also listen into IFLA's General Statement, at 19:07 in the recording (available in Spanish and English) on the WIPO website – please scroll down the videos to “Tues 3 – English, Afternoon Session” (for English) or “Tues 3 – Floor, Afternoon Session” (in Spanish).