Why is IFLA advocating for a copyright treaty at WIPO?

Copyright laws are meant to balance the public interest in accessing information with the rights of authors, artists, and publishers.

In some countries, copyright laws include provisions so libraries and archives can provide public access to the world’s knowledge—but in many countries, these exceptions apply only to resources that exist in traditional formats. Outdated copyright laws increasingly prevent libraries and archives from performing their most basic functions, simply because resources are now digital. In a number of countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America, there are no exceptions safeguarding the services of libraries and archives at all.

As rules in favor of copyright holders have increased through binding global treaties, rules for libraries and archives that enable access to information have stayed frozen. The result is a broken copyright system that:

  • Deepens inequalities in public knowledge and skills
  • Creates permanent holes in the historical record
  • Prevents information created today from being available for future generations

IFLA believes that international action is needed to ensure essential library and archive functions continue to be preserved in copyright laws.

What would an international framework look like?

IFLA is seeking an international framework that will facilitate library lending, inter library loan and document supply in digital and print forms; enable use of orphan works; ensure the ability to acquire eBooks from publishers; protect library exceptions from override by contract; among other important library activities. You can view the Treaty Proposal on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives here. This proposal was created by library and archive experts to guide Member States at the SCCR on model copyright provisions and needs to support the activities of these sectors.

What is happening at the 27th meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights?

The 27th meeting of the SCCR is taking place from 28th April – 2 May 2014, at the headquarters of WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland. There, exceptions and limitations, including for libraries and archives, will be discussed for two days. You can access all of the meeting documents for SCCR 27 here.

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