17 July 2017
In Copyright, Everyone’s Rights Must be Protected: IFLA calls for Reconsideration of W3C Decision on Extended Media Extensions
Following the decision of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to incorporate Extended Media Extensions in to the HTML Standard, IFLA has called for reconsideration.
While recognising both the potential for technological protection measures to hinder infringing uses, as well as the additional simplicity offered by this solution, IFLA is concerned that it will become easier to apply such measures to digital content without also making it easier for libraries and their users to remove measures that prevent legitimate uses of works.
Copyright should, by its nature, find a balance between the need for remuneration for the creators of works, allowing them to go on creating, and the broader public interest in access to information, knowledge and culture. Therefore when making choices concerning copyright, policy-makers should defend this balance, rather than weigh only on one side of the scales.
Technological protection measures (TPMs) play a useful role in tackling copyright infringement, complementing legal provisions. However, they do not always stop at preventing illicit activities, and can often serve to stop libraries and their users from making fair uses of works. This can affect activities such as preservation, or inter-library document supply. To make it easier to apply TPMs, regardless of the nature of activities they are preventing, is to risk unbalancing copyright itself.
While clearly it may not be in the purview of the W3C to change the laws and regulations regulating copyright around the world, they must take account of the implications of their decisions on the rights of the users of copyright works.
Therefore, incorporation of the Extended Media Extension standard into the HTML code should wait until further steps are made to avoid abuses of this technology at the expense of public interest copyright exceptions. IFLA therefore calls for the W3C to reconsider its decision, and delay implementation until a full and effective set of laws and processes for removing TPMs which prevent the enjoyment of users' rights.