Public Knowledge and the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights

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WIPO delegates at the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. (Photo: WIPO – Emmanuel Berrod)

As the year begins to come to a close, the newest session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and related rights has been convened in Geneva, Switzerland.  Previously, in posts from earlier this year it was noted that during this session the SCCR plans to examine working documents for treaties such as a treaties for the protection of broadcasting organizations, limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, and limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and people with other disabilities.As the year begins to come to a close, the newest session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and related rights has been convened in Geneva, Switzerland.  Previously, in posts from earlier this year it was noted that during this session the SCCR plans to examine working documents for treaties such as a treaties for the protection of broadcasting organizations, limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, and limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and people with other disabilities.  While previous coverage of issues facing the proposed broadcast treaty, which is designated as the major point of deliberation for the 26th session, have already been discussed in depth the second agenda item to be discussed is the treaty for libraries and archives. Indeed, as libraries and archives have been the stewards of public information and freely accessible knowledge for centuries it is paramount that the exceptions and limitations to copyright and related rights for these institutions accurately reflects the state of these institutions.

Just as the nature of intellectual property protection for broadcasting organizations has been radically altered with the widespread adoption of Internet and Web 2.0 technologies, the nature of librarianship and archival work has also changed.  However, what has failed to change with technology is none other than the international intellectual property system, especially in regards to limitations and exceptions to copyright laws.

In a study conducted by Kenneth Crews in 2008 on the international state of limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, it was found that 21 countries have no exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives as well as only 6 countries with exceptions for inter-library loan and only 26 countries with exceptions to technological protection measures for libraries and archives.  Although this may not seem like a matter for concern, when one takes into the consideration of the Internet as the world’s information platform and its ability to transcend conventional economic and political borders, the fractured domestic nature of exceptions and limitations to copyright becomes a grave matter of concern.

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), which has a great deal of additional information regarding aspects of this treaty for those who are not particularly familiar with copyright laws and exceptions, has stated that, as libraries and archives continue to become much more digitized, the need to develop an international system of limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives is increasingly important to the quantity and quality of publicly available scientific and cultural knowledge and information.  However, with the opposition to this raised by many developed nations, such as the United States and Canada, it remains to be seen if this will come to fruition.  Indeed, as something that many developing nations have been fighting quite hard for, this is undoubtedly will become an important issue at the next session of the SCCR.  While previous coverage of issues facing the proposed broadcast treaty, which is designated as the major point of deliberation for the 26th session, have already been discussed in depth the second agenda item to be discussed is the treaty for libraries and archives. Indeed, as libraries and archives have been the stewards of public information and freely accessible knowledge for centuries it is paramount that the exceptions and limitations to copyright and related rights for these institutions accurately reflects the state of these institutions.

Just as the nature of intellectual property protection for broadcasting organizations has been radically altered with the widespread adoption of Internet and Web 2.0 technologies, the nature of librarianship and archival work has also changed.  However, what has failed to change with technology is none other than the international intellectual property system, especially in regards to limitations and exceptions to copyright laws.

In a study conducted by Kenneth Crews in 2008 on the international state of limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, it was found that 21 countries have no exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives as well as only 6 countries with exceptions for inter-library loan and only 26 countries with exceptions to technological protection measures for libraries and archives.  Although this may not seem like a matter for concern, when one takes into the consideration of the Internet as the world’s information platform and its ability to transcend conventional economic and political borders, the fractured domestic nature of exceptions and limitations to copyright becomes a grave matter of concern.

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), which has a great deal of additional information regarding aspects of this treaty for those who are not particularly familiar with copyright laws and exceptions, has stated that, as libraries and archives continue to become much more digitized, the need to develop an international system of limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives is increasingly important to the quantity and quality of publicly available scientific and cultural knowledge and information.  However, with the opposition to this raised by many developed nations, such as the United States and Canada, it remains to be seen if this will come to fruition.  Indeed, as something that many developing nations have been fighting quite hard for, this is undoubtedly will become an important issue at the next session of the SCCR.

Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights

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