What happened at WIPO’s copyright committee?
EIFL joined a 14-strong team of librarians and archivists advocating for access to knowledge at WIPO’s copyright committee meeting in Geneva

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Teresa Hackett, EIFL Copyright and Libraries Programme manager, at the 32nd session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights in Geneva.

At the 32nd session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR/32) that met in Geneva from 9 – 13 May 2016, member states advanced discussion on three topics: libraries and archives working across borders, the need for libraries to be allowed to buy books available in other countries, and the right to use orphan works.

Teresa Hackett, EIFL Copyright and Libraries Programme manager made seven interventions on libraries and other agenda items during a busy few days.


During the week, libraries and archives received strong support from regional groups, in particular the African Group led by Nigeria, the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) led by the Bahamas, and the Asia Pacific group led by India.

The Chair’s proposal to hold regional meetings on libraries and archives was supported by the three regions.

India, on behalf of the Asia Pacific group, also made a supportive suggestion to appoint a facilitator or ‘friend of the Chair’, like in other WIPO committees, to shape up the working text in order to make some visible progress.


The opening statements of Group B (industrialized countries) and the African Group revealed the gap in positions held by the two blocs.

The African Group wants an international instrument on exceptions and limitations in response to obstacles faced by libraries and archives in fulfilling their public interest role in providing access to knowledge in the digital environment.

On the other hand, Group B, led by Greece, believes that the current copyright system functions well for libraries and archives.

During the discussion that followed, representatives of libraries and archives made over twenty interventions setting out the reality of working across borders, explaining the need to buy books from other countries, and the problems using orphan works, illustrated with specific examples. A common refrain was that licensing is not the answer.

On Wednesday 11 May, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) organised a lunch-time event Shelves to Servers: Digital content in Libraries and Archives with speakers from Canada, Scotland and Uruguay who elaborated on the issues with facts and data.

Throughout the week, library and archive representatives were on hand to answer questions from member state delegates and to provide information.


In other developments, Professor Daniel Seng presented a Draft Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Educational Activities.

The study, that currently analyses copyright legislation in 136 out of 188 WIPO member states, will be completed over the coming months.

It focuses on eight categories of limitations and exceptions that pertain to educational activities, and will be used as a starting point by the SCCR Chair to prepare a chart of topics for discussion.

In addition, a scoping study on limitations and exceptions for persons with disabilities, other than print disabilities, will be presented at SCCR/33. A survey on national laws will be prepared for SCCR/34.

Read the EIFL statement on other disabilities.


The Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) presented a new proposal that attracted keen interest from member states and NGOs.

The proposal, an analysis of copyright related to the digital environment, incorporates many issues that affect library work, including the management of copyright; limitations & exceptions in the digital environment; enforcement mechanisms; digital exhaustion; licences; territoriality, and interpretation of the three-step test.

The proposal also featured at ‘Copyright in the Digital Environment: Innovative Solutions from Creators and Users’, a side event organized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), that had a focus on music where the impact of technological change has been especially evident.

Read the EIFL statement on the GRULAC proposal.

To round off the week, Senegal and Congo introduced a proposal to include the artist’s Resale Right in the agenda of future work by the Committee.

The Resale Right allows a visual artist (or their heirs) to receive a percentage of the selling price of a work of art every time it is re-sold on the market.

For EIFL and our allies, it is important that proposals for the introduction of new rights should not crowd out existing agenda items on limitations and exceptions.


Discussions continued on a treaty for the protection of broadcast organizations, in particular definitions and the object of protection.

Since the current talks relate to so-called ‘post-fixation rights’ i.e. providing broadcasters with a right to control uses of content in a broadcast work, the issue of exceptions becomes critical.

Read the EIFL statement on broadcasting that sets out the importance of access to information for social and public interest reasons and the need for robust exceptions that can withstand changes to technology and new uses of content.

Chile becomes the 17th country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty

On 10 May 2016, Chile became the seventeenth country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities. This means that only three more ratifications are needed for the treaty to enter into force.


About SCCR/32:


Read why EIFL is advocating for an international treaty for libraries and archives.