12 October 2001: The joint Steering Group of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Publishers Association (IPA) is working to promote common principles on copyright in the electronic environment.

The joint Steering Group, co-chaired by Herman P. Spruijt, member of the IPA Executive Committee, and Ingrid Parent, Member of the IFLA Governing Board (see joint press release of 23 August 2001), is pleased to announce further progress on the following principles:
While the fundamental principles underlying copyright protection in the print environment remain the same in the electronic environment (in this sense, “digital is not different”), the Group recognises that the advent of new technologies has fundamentally changed methods of publication and dissemination as well as rights management (in this sense, “digital is different”).
Bridging the digital divide is best achieved by government programmes increasing funding for the provision of books and other publications in libraries as well as for connecting end-users to the Internet, especially in developing countries and disadvantaged groups in developed nations.
Exceptions and limitations to copyright in the public interest remain necessary in the electronic environment, in order to maintain an equitable balance between the rights of creators and distributors and the needs of users but the nature and extent of exceptions and limitations must be assessed by applying the three step test.
Libraries are key players in ensuring long-term preservation archiving of electronic information, through appropriate arrangements with publishers. However, the conditions of access and other technical and policy issues require further discussion among stake holders.
IPA and IFLA will promote the above principles to their respective memberships.
Herman P. Spruijt said: “Publishers and libraries recognise that, in the electronic environment too, libraries represent gateways to knowledge and that copyright encourages the publication and dissemination of knowledge sources. Both communities are concerned about promoting connectivity of the information poor and call for increased funding to develop the infrastructure required for the dissemination and protection of -, and access to, digital content.”
Ingrid Parent said: “In the international copyright arena IFLA supports balanced copyright provisions that promote the advancement of society as a whole by giving strong and effective protection to the rights holders as well as allowing reasonable access in order to encourage research, creativity, education and learning. In the digital environment there are still many issues to resolve, but it is encouraging to see that libraries and publishers are committed to finding the common ground that will benefit all the stakeholders.”
The joint IFLA/IPA Steering Group will continue to elaborate and promote these and other agreed common principles on copyright in the electronic environment.
Download this statement as a pdf.