Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives

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Copyright limitations and exceptions are fundamental for access to knowledge and thus for human and social development.

Why is IFLA advocating for copyright reform at WIPO?

Copyright laws are meant to balance the public interest in accessing information with the rights of authors, artists, and publishers. In some countries, copyright laws include provisions so libraries and archives can provide public access to the world’s knowledge—but in many countries, these exceptions apply only to resources that exist in traditional formats. Outdated copyright laws increasingly prevent libraries and archives from performing their most basic functions, simply because resources are now digital. In a number of countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America, there are no exceptions safeguarding the services of libraries and archives at all.

As rules in favor of copyright holders have increased through binding global treaties, rules for libraries and archives that enable access to information have stayed frozen. The result is a broken copyright system that:

  • Deepens inequalities in public knowledge and skills
  • Creates permanent holes in the historical record
  • Prevents information created today from being available for future generations

IFLA believes that international action is needed to ensure essential library and archive functions continue to be preserved in copyright laws.

What would an international framework look like?

IFLA is seeking an international framework that will facilitate library lending, inter library loan and document supply in digital and print forms; enable use of orphan works; ensure the ability to acquire eBooks from publishers; protect library exceptions from override by contract; among other important library activities. The Treaty Proposal on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives was created by library and archive experts to guide Member States at the SCCR on model copyright provisions and needs to support the activities of these sectors.

What stage are the negotiations at?

Following the successful conclusion of a treaty to ensure access to works for visually impaired people (the Marrakesh Treaty) in June 2013, copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives are high on the SCCR agenda. This is an important opportunity to establish the concerns of libraries and archives, and build momentum to advance SCCR discussions towards an international instrument.  

Last update: 30 September 2016

Latest News

On Track or Off the Rails? IFLA publishes an update current status of transposition of the Marrakesh Directive in Europe

On the occasion of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 12-14 June, IFLA wishes to underline the positive progress that is taking place within the European Union towards transposition of Marrakesh Directive. The update shows where things stand (on 14 June) in the internal process of transposition of European law, looking at key aspects

14 June 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives

Action for Libraries at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (SCCR/36)

IFLA was in Geneva from 28 May to 1 June to advocate for better exceptions and limitations to copyright for libraries. The occasion was the 36th meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The very good outcome for libraries would not have been possible without work of many IFLA members who urged their representatives to give a positive turn to the discussions at SCCR. We are happy to say that we achieved the goals we had for the week!

7 June 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Advocacy, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives

Towards Action: IFLA Returns to Geneva for the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights

The 36th session of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will focus on defining action plans on copyright provisions for libraries. With these, we hope to see the organisation move in the direction of concrete steps that will make a real difference for our institutions. As the organisation that gave the world the Marrakesh Treaty, WIPO is well placed to drive change that delivers sustainable development.

28 May 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to knowledge, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives, Switzerland, World Intellectual Property Organisation, WIPO