After years of IFLA engagement at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), discussions have reached a key moment. In three regional seminars, many countries asked for international action – a key priority for IFLA. A global conference will take place in October 2019 to make decisions on the way forward.

Copyright represents a key factor in the way that libraries work. While the growth of open access means that more and more new content is available with fewer restrictions, copyright laws determine how far libraries can give access to everything else in their collections.

Seminars for the Asia-PacificAfrican and Latin American and the Caribbean regions organised by WIPO have underlined that there are many countries with not enough exceptions and limitations. Where these exist, they are often not adapted to the digital world; and that there is no legal certainty for cross-border collaboration between libraries. This echoes the views of experts at WIPO meetings.

We are at a key moment in the history of work on exceptions and limitations for libraries at WIPO. At an International Conference, IFLA will push for what several member states have requested at the regional seminars: an international instrument to guarantee a set of minimum exceptions and limitations and to make cross-border collaboration possible.

The political decisions taken at the October 2019 meeting will shape the future of this work and decide how long libraries will have to wait for the rules they need to serve their users best.

How You Can Help

At this conference, government delegates need to be informed about the challenges that libraries face when dealing with copyright in their countries, and why international action is necessary.

Therefore, we are calling you to coordinate at the national level to meet your copyright office or government office in charge of copyright ahead of the international conference.

Underline how you contribute to public interest goals such as preservation, research and education, and why the law should support, not frustrate your work. We need to change the copyright status quo. Business as usual is not an option.

You will find more information that can help you to prepare this meeting on our resource page. Questions? Contact or

Find out more about IFLA’s work on copyright in Session 247 on Thursday 29 August from 08:30 to 10:30 in the Lambrakis room.