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Report to Council, Berlin, Germany 2003

The Committee on Copyright and Other Legal Matters was established in 1997 to advise IFLA and its constituent groups with respect to copyright and intellectual property, economic and trade barriers to the acquisition of library materials, disputed claims of ownership of library materials, authenticity of electronic texts, subscriptions and license agreements and other legal matters of international significance to libraries and librarianship. The membership of the Committee which endeavors to be representative of all regions of the world changed slightly during the past two years. Presently we have 25 members representing 19 countries. There are 18 Committee members, the Chair, two observers and four expert resource persons. Until March 31st of this year, when it was closed down, the UAP office, at the British Library, Boston Spa, provided the Secretariat for the Committee.

While this Report will focus on the past two years, I would also like, in this presentation, to reflect on the continuum of our work over the past six years. I am pleased, and I might add proud, of what we have accomplished since the Committee was established.

In 1998 IFLA members indicated that issues relating to copyright, licensing and the impact of globalization were of greatest concern. Therefore our first activities focussed on developing statements of principle and policy in the areas of copyright in the digital environment, licensing, the World Trade Organization and WTO Treaty Negotiations. Most recently a document "Tips for TRIPS" was prepared. I hasten to add this is not a guide to happy travelling. Rather it is intended to assist members in understanding the impact of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It is this Agreement that adds intellectual property to the areas of international trade already covered by the WTO. TRIPS is intended to set common standards for intellectual property for all countries that are members of the WTO. As it happens these common standards are similar to those in most developed countries. The challenge is for those less developed countries that do not have the same level of intellectual property protection to meet the common standard and to do so by 2006. We hope Tips for TRIPS will provide some guidance to those in countries that must enact or modify legislation in order for the country to be in compliance with the TRIPS agreement. The document is available on our website.

Also during the two year reporting period, at the invitation of UNESCO, we prepared a 30 page statement on "Limitations and Exceptions to Copyright and Neighbouring Rights in the Digital Environment". This document was a contribution to the study that UNESCO has undertaken and I quote, "in the belief that limitations and exceptions are enacted to create a balance between the interest of copyright owners on the one hand, and the interests of society on the other hand." We hope that the CLM document will also be useful to IFLA colleagues as a reminder of the role that copyright protection can play in accessing information and the necessity to be vigilant in ensuring that the balance between the needs of users and those of rightsholders is maintained. The UNESCO study itself has the potential of being a useful resource in countries still working out the details of their copyright legislation. I should add that there is still considerable concern in many communities world-wide that the access to published materials that we have come to rely on in the print environment is being seriously eroded in the digital environment.

The matters of interest to CLM are relevant both at the national and the international level. For example where once the major thrust for action relating to copyright was only at the national level, now impetus for change is also coming from two major international bodies, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization. It is now no longer just national lobbying activities that need to be dealt with, but it is also necessary to lobby in the international arena where we are often competing with large multinational corporations. To be an effective advocate requires skill and expertise and in the international forum it also requires financial resources.

Since the end of the debates in 1996 on the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the IFLA presence at WIPO has not been as consistent as it should have been. While we have been present at a number of meetings over the past six years, where our position has been well presented, and while we have, when possible, coordinated our presence with our European colleagues through EBLIDA, our impact has not been, from my point of view, totally satisfactory. I believe we have now found a more effective approach. As of June, with support from the Swiss library community, CLM will now have a "resident" librarian who will monitor the most relevant WIPO committees, work with members of CLM on policy issues, and attend the appropriate WIPO meetings in Geneva.

IFLA also joined forces with EBLIDA this past year for a meeting with officials in the WTO in order to ensure that the Secretariat is aware of the issues of concern to libraries in both the GATS and TRIPS Agreements. It is somewhat ironic to note that most officials our GATS experts have talked to all seem to be surprised by our concerns and repeatedly state that no one intends to harm libraries. It may well be that the biggest danger to library services within international trade negotiations could be unintended repercussions arising from other government interests.

At this point I would like to underline that decisions in both of these international organizations are made by representatives of national governments. It is important therefore that IFLA's national association members, in particular, be aware of the major issues. We hope that the materials prepared by CLM relating to both WIPO and the WTO will be of assistance. These documents are all available on the CLM portion of the IFLA website. In order to ensure that the role of libraries in our communities remains clear and that access to information is not unduly restricted, the library community needs to continue to promote and be strong advocates both at home with our trade and copyright officials and in Geneva with the Secretariats of both WIPO and WTO, and also to work in concert with other interested NGO's and allies.

CLM has continued to participate actively in the Joint IFLA/IPA (the International Publishers Association) Steering Group. As you may know, a number of joint IFLA/IPA statements have been issued which have emphasized the many areas of mutual interest and support. While there have been times, when we have had to agree to disagree on matters pertaining to copyright, on the whole I believe there is an improved understanding and acceptance of the need to balance the needs of users and those of the rightsholders.

I am grateful that our programmes for IFLA members at the General Conferences have been well received. They have not only focussed on the many aspects of copyright, but have covered areas such as the WTO, licensing, the draft Hague Convention, privacy, and the public lending right. Our programme in Glasgow consisted of the usual update on current issues such as copyright; the GATS related agreements and the public lending right as well as a very informative panel on issues relating to repatriation of cultural heritage materials.

Here in Berlin, the CLM Update session again covered copyright and WTO issues, as well as a presentation on hyperlinks - an interesting and complicated topic. Our second programme this year was in the area of technological protection measures and digital rights management. Unfortunately technology, which has the capacity to make information much more widely available, also has the capacity to restrict that access and effectively negate exceptions and limitations now available through national copyright legislation. It is important that the library community remain ever vigilant in upholding library values and principles.

On the housekeeping side, CLM held two business meetings in Glasgow and in Berlin.

Our web pages were revised this year and all our documents, policy statements, reports of meetings and most of the papers given during the IFLA Congresses are available there. We have continued to increase the number of languages in which our documents are available. During the past two years several of the policy statements were translated into Chinese, Russian and Polish. We are actively seeking knowledgeable volunteers to translate into Spanish and Arabic.

I cannot finish my last Report to Council without publicly thanking the members of CLM for their work and warm support during these past six years, to my friends and colleagues at IFLA Headquarters, always ready to help, and to the staff at the former UAP office, in particular Sara Gould.

Six years ago when I became Chair of CLM I had a sense of the potential impact of globalization and technology on the equitable access to information. Now I know with a certainty that these must be ongoing concerns for IFLA and its Committee on Copyright and Other Legal Matters. I thank you for the opportunity to chair CLM and work with wonderful colleagues on these issues of fundamental importance.

Marianne Scott
Chair, IFLA CLM
August 8th, 2003

CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters)

Last update: 5 October 2012