2008.10.29 - eIFL welcomes Study on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives

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October 29, 2008

Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL.net) welcomes the publication of a new study on copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. The study was commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and prepared by Professor Kenneth Crews, Columbia University, USA. For the first time, library exceptions have been gathered from 149 countries, providing an analytical survey of the law with respect to libraries and library services.

“This is a tremendous new resource in which we can compare and contrast library provisions for almost every country in the world”, said Teresa Hackett, eIFL-IP Programme Manager. “The study provides a solid foundation for a global debate on what works for libraries and what doesn’t. It is especially useful to generate debate on core, minimum library provisions, as well as on the future shape of users’ rights in the networked environment.”

The study begins by describing the roots of library exceptions which usually reflect the practical and political context of the country. In addition to international agreements, such as the Berne Convention, historical, cultural and geographical factors were found to be a strong influencing factor. The prevalence, scope and structure of library exceptions are then examined, addressing issues such as reproduction of copyrighted works for private research and study, preservation and the replacement of materials, interlibrary document supply, as well as library exceptions for the circumvention of technological protection measures. Case studies present anecdotal evidence of the working relationship between libraries and copyright law, while detailed factual data on library copyright provisions for each country is set out in tabular form.

“The widespread prevalence of statutory library exceptions, and the fact that they tend to centre on pursuits such as research and preservation, indicate that policy makers recognise the important role that a well-balanced copyright law plays in the ability of citizens to have continuing access to the rich variety of materials held in libraries”, said Professor Crews. “But the study also suggests that many librarians want clearer laws that would apply to the services they want to deliver to their patrons. The demand amongst librarians for more supportive legislation was unmistakable. However, detailed statutes cannot anticipate the changing needs of libraries and the application of new technologies”.

“The study places our national library copyright provisions in an international context. Not only does it enable us to compare library exceptions with those in neighbouring countries, we can evaluate how we fare in relation to Europe, the US and the rest of the world”, commented Benson Njobvu, eIFL-IP representative in Zambia and Chair of the Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern African Library and Information Associations (SCECSAL). “Knowing the variety and scope of library exceptions in other countries will provide ideas for how we can improve our law to benefit library users in Zambia and throughout southern Africa”.

The study can be downloaded from: www.wipo.int


Further information:
Rima Kupryte, Director
Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL)
c/o ADN Kronos, Piazza Mastai 9
00153 Rome, Italy
Tel: +(39)(06)5807216/17
E-mail: info[at]eifl.net



Notes for Editors 

eIFL.net is an international foundation, which supports national library consortia in more than fifty transition and developing countries to negotiate and advocate for the wide availability of electronic resources to education, research and professional communities as well as governmental organisations and civil society. This global network embraces millions of users in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.

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