Upcoming agenda of next week’s SCCR meeting

Next week the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is set to meet in Geneva, Switzerland for its 35th session from Nov. 13-17, 2017. Among the issues expected to be discussed at this meeting are the SCCR’s campaign to protect broadcasting organizations; accreditation of non-governmental organizations including the Center for Information Policy Research (CIPR) and the Canadian Museums Association (CMA); the scoping study on access to copyright related works by persons with disabilities; the scoping study on the impact of the digital environment on copyright legislation adopted between 2008 and 2016; and the updated study and additional analysis of study on copyright limitations and exceptions for educational activities. Other matters that will be discussed include limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, as well as a proposal from Senegal and Congo to include the Resale Right (droit de suite) in the Agenda of Future work by the SCCR.

Last publication of the Peer-Reviewed WIPO Journal

WIPO had been publishing since 2009 a peer-reviewed journal produced by Sweet and Maxwell (in association with Thomson Reuters), The WIPO Journal: Analysis and Debate of Intellectual Property Issues. The December 2016 issue was the last one as WIPO announced it would cease its publication.

Its editor-in-chief was Peter K. Yu, Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Law and Intellectual Property. Over the year, many law experts and researchers contributed to the journal, discussing topics ranging from history and issues related to IP, to climate change, digital freedom, human rights or patents and technological Innovation. The last publication was a special issue on Intellectual Property and Development. Peter K.Yu introduced the issue by reviewing “Five Decades of Intellectual Property and Global Development”, reminding his readers that “as this special issue enters into production, WIPO is poised to commemorate the tenth anniversary of this Development Agenda” (p.2).

On the same topic, Dr Sara Bannerman, project supervisor of this blog and author of International Copyright and Access to Knowledge (Cambridge UP),  wrote the article “Development and International Copyright: A History” (p.11). Drawing on a content analysis of the records of international conferences negotiating international copyright agreements, Dr Bannerman examines the historical relationship between WIPO, international copyright and “development”. She argues that Harry Truman’s agenda for international development introduced in 1949 had a strong influence on the concept of “development” as it has been used and instigated since then, and reviews the history and struggles behind WIPO’s development agenda. Other contributions include an article about IP law in relation to Africa’s development (“Decolonising Intellectual Property Law in Pursuit of Africa’s Development”, Caroline B. Ncube) or the application of the Marrakesh Treaty in Brazil (“Fundamental Rights, Development and Cultural Inclusion: The Marrakesh Treaty in Brazil”, Allan Rocha de Souza). 14 contributors in total have participated to this last issue, unfortunately coming to an end.

The 8 volumes of the WIPO Journal, from 2009 to 2016, are available on WIPO’s website.

WIPO’s move to open access laudable among international organizations

It’s important, in the interests of transparency, accountability, and access to knowledge, that international organizations adopt open licencing of their publications and records.  WIPO’s recent move to implement a new Open Access policy puts it among the forefront of international organizations adopting Open Access policies.

In 2013, Creative Commons announced a new Creative Commons licence specifically designed for international organizations (IGOs). International Organizations’ Creative Commons licences are similar to other Creative Commons licences, but are specially designed for international organizations, which have special copyright licencing requirements due to their privileges and immunities in national legal processes.

In adopting the Creative Commons-IGO licence, WIPO is at the forefront of UN agencies and other international organizations.  WIPO joins UNESCO and a number of UN-funded programs and portals, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank Group in adopting the licence.  WIPO and other UN agencies must go further.

The 2012 Hague Conference on Private International Law unanimously endorsed a set of recommendations that included a set of 18 guiding principles on access to law (Greenleaf, Mowbray, & Chung, 2013).  The principles of access to law widely endorsed by states call for not just open access to legislation and case law, but also open access to “relevant historical materials, including preparatory work and legislation that has been amended or repealed, as well as relevant explanatory materials.”   Further, they call on states to “permit and facilitate the reproduction and re-use of legal materials[…]by other bodies, in particular for the purpose of securing free public access to the materials, and to remove any impediments to such reproduction and re-use.”

While not perfect, WIPO has been noted for its relative transparency and the accessibility of its documents.  WIPO’s new Open Access initiative is a part of this.  However, the licence, at present, will be applied to WIPO publications published online on or after November 15, 2016 and other select content.  In the interests of continued openness, transparency and accountability, WIPO should apply the Creative Commons-IGO licence to all of its publications, including historical materials, meeting documents, and explanatory materials, and including documents published prior to November 2016.  In an era of increasing skepticism of globalization, WIPO can build on its own best practices and take the lead on transparency and free access to law.


With thanks to Coralie Zaza for her extensive research on the Open Access policies of international organizations.

Reports and studies from the latest SCCR meeting

Photo: WIPO – Emmanuel Berrod.

As discussed in our previous post, the SCCR meeting held in November in Geneva discussed, among other topics, the limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives. Most notably, WIPO released a Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Educational Activities prepared by Professor Daniel Seng from National University of Singapore. The extended study reviews 2,048 pieces of copyright legislation  from 189 WIPO member states. It was a necessary addition to the other studies commissioned by WIPO mapping different limitations and exceptions in many different countries. As EIFL relates, the study focuses on eight categories of limitations and exceptions that relate to educational activities, forming the basis of an informal chart prepared by the Chair for further discussion on the topics by the committee. The revised chart will provide the basis for future discussion at the next SCCR meeting in May 2017.

Additionally, a preliminary presentation of the scoping study on limitations and exceptions for persons with disabilities, other than print disabilities, and a description of topics was discussed and will further be studied. (Item 22 of the Summary) The complete study is expected to be presented at the next SCCR meeting as well.

Of note, the Committee discussed the Proposal for Analysis of Copyright Related to the Digital Environment submitted in 2015 by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC). Delegates of Chile delivered a powerful statement on behalf of GRULAC, acknowledging the digital work and help of archivists and museologists in Brazil and the U.K. in ensuring gender equity in the UN Charter of 1945.

In this statement, Chile explains that Brazilian scientist and diplomat “Bertha Lutz – with the help of delegates from Uruguay, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Australia – demanded the inclusion of women’s rights in the Charter and the creation of an intergovernmental body for the promotion of gender equality, while the plenipotentiary delegate of the United States and the British delegate opposed.

The Committee supported the proposals that were made by some delegations to commission a scoping study on the impact of digital developments on the evolution of national legal frameworks over the last ten years. A proposal was made to add the topic to the SCCR agenda as a standing agenda item.

EIFL concludes, on behalf of librarians and archivists everywhere, that “with a busy agenda ahead, we will have to work hard to ensure that limitations and exceptions for libraries, archives and museums get their rightful attention and that we keep moving forward in 2017 for the benefit of libraries everywhere.”

Open Access Policy newly implemented at WIPO

WIPO takes a step further in the promotion international access to knowledge. The organization announced this month that it is adopting an Open Access Policy in support of its commitment to the sharing and dissemination of knowledge, and to make its publications easily available to the widest possible audience.

Under this policy, WIPO facilitates free access to online content and publications under WIPO’s name, and also minimizes the conditions and restrictions placed on the use of its content.

Unless specified otherwise in particular terms of use, anyone is free to reproduce, distribute, adapt, translate and publicly perform content published online under WIPO’s name, provided that such use is accompanied by an acknowledgement that WIPO is the source, and clearly indicates if changes are made to the original content.

To implement this access, WIPO will use the suite Creative Commons Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO) licenses, an online licensing system developed in 2013 in collaboration with several international organizations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

New WIPO publications published on or after November 15, 2016 and a selection of existing publications have been licensed under the CC-BY 3.0 IGO license or one of the other licenses in the Creative Commons IGO suite.  WIPO publications available under Creative Commons licenses will be clearly identified and searchable within the publications area of the WIPO website. Previous publications will be made available on a case-by-case basis.

Through this new policy, WIPO is supporting open archive initiatives that promote the dissemination of content through interoperability standards and efficient licensing schemes.