IFLA was proud to attend the 44th meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR/44) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva on 6-8 Nov 2023. The IFLA delegation spoke on behalf of libraries, user rights and the public interest alongside civil society colleagues.

Particularly relevant to libraries,  many national delegates spoke with enthusiastic positivity on the floor toward the workplan on limitations and exceptions (l&e), which had been approved at SCCR/43 in March earlier in the year. It was decided at SCCR/44 that the WIPO Secretariat will organize a virtual panel discussion on cross-border uses of of educational and research material, taking a case study approach. In consultation with the member states, the Secretariat will also present a detailed implementation plan for the l&e workplan at SCCR/45 in April 2024.

The three priority areas of the workplan approved at SCCR/43 are: a) preservation for libraries, archives and museums; b) teaching online; and c) adapting the Marrakesh Treaty model (which covers sharing accessible copies for persons with visual impairments) to cover accessible copies for persons with other disabilities.  Further background can be found in the Access to Knowledge Coalition’s position paper.

The IFLA delegation found the support expressed incredibly heartening for libraries, and welcomes the swift, considered implementation of the workplan.

Comments on the floor regarding the proposed implementation of the l&e workplan at SCCR/44 included:

“The group looks forward to the Committee’s adoption of its proposal for the implementation of the workplan.” – Ghana on behalf of the African Group.

“Group B continues to welcome activities on limitations, in particular [in the form of] guidance and direction to member states in designing appropriate legislation and policies at the national level within the existing international framework. On that note, we look forward to discussing the initial steps for the implementation of the work program on exceptions and limitations [adopted in] document SCCR/43/8.” – Netherlands on behalf of Group B (‘developed’ countries)

“On exceptions and limitations GRULAC notes the work program submission by the African group last Friday which is currently being analyzed in capital. We recognise that the existence of exceptions and limitations is an integral part of copyright. We recognise the need to update some exceptions and limitations in order to accompany the new uses and the work in the digital environment.” – Venezuela on behalf of GRULAC (Latin America and the Caribbean)

Throughout the short week of sessions (Monday to Wednesday), there was strong and much-appreciated effort by the now-outgoing Chair, Owen Ripley, to progress according to schedule.

The Broadcast Treaty (under discussion since 1997) and limitations and exceptions to copyright (the part of the law that lets libraries and individuals collect, share, quote and comment on books without seeking additional permissions) have been the SCCR committee’s key areas of development.  The bulk of Monday was devoted to discussions of Broadcast and Tuesday to L&E.  The Chair aptly summarized broad points of agreement on the Broadcast Treaty, discussed on Monday, among them that there exists support for a treaty focused narrowly on broadcast signals and not including post-fixation or content-based rights.

Wednesday included further discussion of current issues. An information session on generative AI and copyright was approved to be planned for SCCR/45. At that upcoming meeting, the GRULAC regional group will also present a workplan on copyright in the digital environment.