13 February 2017

Libraries Educate, Copyright Reform can Help

Education is central to the work of libraries. This goes from simply giving access to the books and materials that people need to teach themselves and answering ad hoc questions, to more formal courses on anything from basic literacy to languages, computer skills, creative writing and other subjects.

They are key actors in delivering Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

Copyright too is supposed to promote education – the original Statute of Anne describes itself as an Act for the encouragement of learning. A balanced copyright system offers authors a fair remuneration, but also ensures that teachers and learners can access the works they need. This is not the case if educators have to spend time and money in order to be sure if they can use a book, article, song or other work in a lesson.

As teaching methods evolve, teachers are increasingly looking to develop and adapt materials to students’ needs, using their best judgement. When educators, not just in schools, but also in libraries and other cultural heritage institutions, want to use a work to illustrate or explain a point, then this should be made as simple as possible.

Current copyright reforms in Europe offer an opportunity to set a precedent for good copyright rules for education. IFLA has therefore signed onto a letter alongside 33 other organisations, which calls for a simple exception to copyright for education, regardless of format (digital or otherwise) or where it takes place (school, library or elsewhere). 

CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Access to knowledge, Education, Europe

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