2 October 2016

A Better Balance is Possible – Looking to the Future at WIPO

WIPO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland

WIPO Headquarters, where the General Assembly will take place. Photo: IFLA (CC-BY 4.0)

Starting tomorrow, the Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organisation will meet together in Geneva. This event – the General Assembly – will see ministers and heads of intellectual property offices from around the world take decisions on the organisation’s budget, structure, and future direction. 

The meeting will have three main highlights from the library point of view.

First of all, it will provide a chance for member states to reaffirm the work of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) on limitations and exceptions for libraries, archives and museums. These discussions offer the single most promising path towards an international legal instrument setting out basic provisions that all countries should have for libraries. We will urge governments to move in this direction.

Such a set of rules will allow libraries to do the best by their users and facilitate international knowledge exchange. In this way, they will realise their ability to promote growth, equality and wellbeing. A strong and ambitious mandate to progress with discussions will also offer evidence that WIPO processes continue to respect the balance between rightholders and users that is at the heart of good copyright law.

Secondly, it will be an opportunity to congratulate Ms Sylvie Forbin on her successful nomination as Deputy Director General, Copyright and Creative Industries at WIPO. Having welcomed her proposal by WIPO Director General Francis Gurry in July, IFLA looks forwards to working with her to build a copyright system that works for everyone.

Finally, it will see the first Marrakesh Assembly, bringing together Member States who have ratified the Treaty of Marrakesh and observers. For libraries, the Treaty is first of all a major breakthrough for its beneficiaries – people with visual impairments or other print disabilities who have long suffered from an under-supply of accessible format books. In order to maximise the benefits of the Treaty, IFLA will call on other member states to ratify the treaty in ways that remove, rather than creating barriers to access to knolwedge.

Moreover, it is also proof that WIPO’s Member States can take decisions that promote the wider public interest, and take firm action against market failures that harm overall economic and social welfare.

IFLA will be represented by Stephen Wyber, Policy and Research Officer. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) will also be in attendance.

You can read IFLA's general statement delivered on 4 October 2016, as well as statements on the work of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, and on the historic first Marrakesh Assembly on 5 October.

CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to knowledge, Copyright, Marrakesh Treaty

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