At the 36th session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Member States agreed on an action plan on exceptions and limitations to copyright for libraries, archives, museums as well as educational and research institutions and persons with other disabilities. Here we bring together the key background materials and reports that can help you understand the issues and get engaged.

The Regional Seminars

A key element of the action plans are a series of three regional seminars on copyright exceptions and limitations, held on 29-30 April in Singapore, 12-13 June in Nairobi, Kenya, and 4-5 July in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This aimed to advance understanding, draw on local expertise, and establish possible ways forwards for the committee’s work on limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries, archives, museums and education and research institutions.

These events were a great way to share real-life experience from librarians in each region – Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean respectively (the countries in each group are indicated, broadly, here). IFLA and local librarians made the case to government officials that business as usual is not good enough for libraries and their users. Only action at the level of WIPO can provide the impetus and the clarity to drive domestic reforms, and allow copyright exceptions to work across borders.

Here are our notes after each regional seminar:

The International Conference on Exceptions and Limitations

An International Conference on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries, Archives, Museums and Educational & Research Institutions will take place in Geneva on 18-19 October 2019 and will conclude the action plans. The goal of the conference is “to consider the opportunities and challanges provided by various international solutions including soft law, contractual/licensing and normative approaches, as appropriate”. Member states will need to make a political decision on the way forwards.

IFLA will be there and will underline the need for meaningful international action.

Your help is crucial at this stage. Member states have been involved in many discussions regarding exceptions and limitations for libraries, but must now come to a conclusion. They need your input on the challanges you face at the local level in order to get a better understanding and contribute to the discussions in an informed manner. We encourage you to meet your copyright office before the October meeting.

Get Involved

Here are a few steps you can follow:

  1. Identify the government office and the person in charge of copyright matters in your country. WIPO keeps a list of names and websites for copyright offices – these may help you in finding out who is responsible for copyright where you are.
  2. Reach out to them and request a meeting. Point out the international conference in October and explain that you wish to contribute with information. We have prepared a template letter that you can adapt [EN / ES / FR].
  3. Prepare the meeting. You do not need to be a copyright expert. Gather examples of the challanges faced by the sector due to inadequate copyright laws, with a special focus on the difficulties when working internationally. Think of improvements that could be made locally. Explain why an international instrument is necessary. You will find several documents to help you in this task under “other materials – background documents”.
  4. Talk about the meeting on social media and let us know how it went so that we can reach out to your representatives at WIPO. You can use the hashtag #Copyright4Libraries

If you have further questions, contact us at and

Other Materials

Background Documents

  • Five Reasons for international action at WIPO on Limitations and Exceptions to Copyright for Libraries, Archives and Museums [EN / ES]
  • Limitations and Exceptions at WIPO: a Timeline 2004 – 2019 [EN / ES]
  • Limitations and Exceptions – Why, What, How and When [EN / ES]
  • Five Common Untruths About Exceptions to Copyright [EN / ES]
  • Library Exceptions Data Summary [EN]


IFLA has run webinars for each of the three regional seminars in English, as well as one in French for Africa and one in Spanish for Latin America and the Caribbean. These explain the background to the seminars, and share some information about what is happening in each region. Watch the webinars again: Asia-Pacific (English), Africa (English, French), Latin America and the Caribbean (English, Spanish)


These set out data from the study by Professor Kenneth Crews on exceptions and limitations to copyright for libraries and archives. They underline inconsistencies in the law today, and in particular how few countries have rules fit for the digital world. We have analysed the information and summarised it in infographics. These are available for the following regions:

  • Asia-Pacific [EN]
  • Africa [EN]
  • Latin America and the Caribbean [EN / ES]. There, some excellent work has been done locally on the basis of the Crews report
  • Western Europe and other Developed Countries [EN]
  • South-East Europe and the former Commonwealth of Independent States [EN]
  • Global [EN]