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Frequently Asked Questions - Copyright and Libraries Programme FAQ's

Through the Copyright and Libraries programme (EIFL-IP), we advocate for a fair copyright system that supports libraries in developing and transition countries in maximizing access to knowledge in the digital environment.

We build the capacity of librarians in our partner consortia on copyright issues and advocacy. We produce unique resources on topical issues, which are translated into  many languages. We also play a leadership role in promoting national and international copyright law reform. Learn more.

We advocate for a fair copyright system that supports libraries in maximizing access to knowledge through national and international copyright law reform. We develop useful resources on copyright issues in multiple languages, and we help to build capacity among librarians in copyright issues through training and mentoring. Learn more

The Copyright and Libraries programme (EIFL-IP) works in EIFL partner countries. Library consortia from developing and transition economy countries can join EIFL and can become EIFL partner countries. We work with library consortia in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America.

See 'Where we work' for more information.

Each EIFL partner consortium has the opportunity to nominate a person from their country as a coordinator for EIFL-IP (as well as for the other EIFL programmes). The coordinator serves as the main point of contact with the EIFL-IP Programme Manager, communicates with the consortium and its members, and reaches out to the local library community on copyright issues. Most coordinators have received training in copyright and advocacy issues for libraries. Many have become recognized leaders in library copyright issues, and have participated in policy-making at national and international levels.

The EIFL-IP coordinators - in over 35 partner countries – are at the heart of the IP programme. They form a strong support network that is managed by EIFL. Learn more.

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, as well as symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property is usually divided into two categories – industrial property that includes patents for inventions, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications, and copyright that includes literary and artistic works. (Source: What is Intellectual Property? World Intellectual Property Organization) (

Libraries are mainly concerned with the area of copyright and related rights.

Copyright grants legal protection to creators of ‘works of the mind’, such as authors and artists. To qualify, the works must be original and ‘fixed’ in some way, for example, written down or recorded. Copyright protection is automatic: no registration is required. Copyright applies to all types of works e.g. books, journals, letters, music, photographs, film, databases, maps, technical drawings, and so on. It applies to works that are published and unpublished in any format. e.g. print, audio-visual, digital, online or offline, DVD, mp3, etc.

Two types of rights are granted: economic rights that can be transferred or assigned to a publisher, an employer or a collecting society for example, and moral rights that are inalienable.

The rights are limited in their scope and effect. They do not apply to ideas and facts, news of the day nor, in some countries, to texts of a legislative, administrative and legal nature. The term of protection is limited, for example, for literary works the standard term is life of the author plus 50 years. The public at large has the right to make quotations from protected works (subject to fair practice). In addition, certain specific uses that differ from country to country may be exempted e.g. preservation by libraries and archives, illustration for teaching purposes.

Rights related to copyright (also known as neighbouring rights) include those for the protection of performing artists, phonogram producers, and broadcasting organizations.

Learn more: Copyright for Librarians

Copyright law is of central importance to libraries. Many library activities and services are affected by copyright, such as the availability and price of books, the right to purchase books from abroad, the right to lend books and other materials. Copyright regulates essential library functions such as preserving cultural heritage, providing access to resources for education and research, and producing information in a format that can be accessed by people with disabilities, for example, people who are blind or visually impaired.

Check WIPO Lex for national laws and treaties of WIPO, WTO and UN Members.

For questions, please contact Copyright and Libraries Programme Manager Teresa Hackett: