Monthly Archives: February 2018

Mining Menace: Could New EU Rules Put Data in Danger?

Endangered Data Week 2018

A year ago, the focus of Endangered Data Week was concern around the deletion of environmental data by the then-new US administration. This year, it’s not only politics but also copyright that poses a threat.


The worry comes from Europe this time, where debates are ongoing about a copyright reform that includes provisions on text and data mining (TDM) – the automated analysis of materials. This technique is already supporting journalism, smart cities and start-ups.  In particular, it is supporting research, publicly funded included, in order to discover new trends, connections, and treatments for disease. IFLA underlined its belief in the potential of TDM by signing the Hague Declaration.


To work, TDM frequently involves creating a new version of the work, in a format that can be ‘read’ by a computer (such as xml). The result is a dataset – the ‘raw material’ for mining. This dataset can be seen as a ‘copy’, and in this sense could be seen as requiring an exception to copyright.


From the Start, Progress Needed

Expressing a desire to promote TDM, the European Commission therefore included a copyright exception for this in its proposals in September 2016. On the positive side, the exception was mandatory and protected from override by contract terms or technological protection measures.


However, it also left a lot of room for rightholders to use security as an excuse to restrict access, and limited the new exception to research institutions. This last provision effectively implied that all other mining taking place without a licence was a illegal.


Libraries argued that this would create complexity – once there is legal access, there should be a right to mine. Restrictions on this should be kept to a minimum, given that they undermined users’ rights. We have seen some progress, in some of the opinions submitted by European Parliament committees, and sympathy for our arguments across the board.


A New Menace

However, in recent months a new idea has appeared – that after use, the datasets created for TDM should be deleted . The argument is that such copies could feed piracy, for example if the dataset finds its way onto the Internet by accident, by design, or by hacking.


This proposal is not only irrational, but potentially highly damaging to research.


Irrational, because the structured dataset does not compete with the original. Irrational, because there is no particular reason why such datasets are more at risk of piracy than any other copy of a work. And irrational, because when it comes to mining openly available resources, it is easy to find the original online or elsewhere.


It is damaging, because the importance of being able to reproduce the results of an experiment is a key test of its validity. If the dataset used to conduct the experiment is destroyed, there is no way of doing this. Damaging, because days or months of work may have gone into creating this dataset, just for it to be wiped away, and with it the value of the investment by the researchers or other miners. And damaging because it means that the same dataset cannot be used in future experiments by researchers with legal access to it.


A Need for Vigilance

The fears and misconceptions that seem to be driving efforts to delete the datasets created for TDM in Europe are both illogical and potentially very harmful, in particular when the datasets are held by publicly funded institutions. Nonetheless, the threat is there. Fortunately, we have an opportunity to stop this danger before it happens, by underlining the error that such a provision would represent.

Social Justice: a Core Library Mission

Inscription at Brooklyn Public Library, New York (Photo BPL)

On the World Day of Social Justice, it is a good moment to celebrate libraries as social justice institutions. Places where the power that information and knowledge can bring is available for all.


The core functions of libraries are already reflected in the right of access to information, and the right to participate in the cultural life of the community, both of which appear in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These rights are included as part of an overall framework that seeks to promote free, just and peaceful societies.


For the lucky, access to information and culture may not seem like a challenge. They can afford the books they and their family want to read. They have benefitted from a high-quality education, and work for companies that invest in their skills. They were early-adopters of digital technology, and have the latest gadgets and the free time to learn to use them. They are confident in speaking out, and expect to be heard.


Logo for SDG5: Gender Equality. Women are too often on the wrong side of the information divide.

But the ‘lucky’ are only a part – perhaps a small part – of the whole. For others, access is not a reality. They cannot afford books, Internet connections, or subscriptions, or cannot find materials that are relevant for them. For some types of information – such as scientific journals – only a tiny proportion of individuals can realistically expect to be able to buy all that they might need.


The skills to make this access meaningful are also important. Yet it is often those who struggle with the costs of information that also lack the knowledge or confidence needed to apply it. This holds them back from taking better decisions and improving their lives. Many of these themes are covered in the 2017 Development and Access to Information report, produced by IFLA in partnership with the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington.


Libraries offer a solution. As a long-standing form of the sharing economy, they ensure that one book can have many different readers. They are welcoming spaces, where all can come and learn and train. They are professionally bound in many cases to ensuring that all members of their community benefit from their services (including the migrant workers who are a key focus of this year’s Social Justice Day – see these guidelines from IFLA’s Section for Libraries serving Multicultural Populations). They do not means-test in general, ensuring that those who need them most are not stigmatised.


Even in the richest societies, libraries have a strong role as a core public service, providing access and support to those who need it. Many of those they help will turn into book-buyers in future, thanks to the education and encouragement they have received. Some may not, but it remains a duty of government to fulfil their rights too.


This is why the mission of libraries – to provide meaningful, universal access to information – is a social justice mission. And why on World Social Justice Day 2018, it is a chance to celebrate what they do.

Copyright for Libraries in 2018 – Part 1

Copyright laws around the world are constantly changing in an attempt to adapt – or react – to the digital world. These changes can have a major impact on how libraries function and on the public service they provide. While some reforms offer new possibilities and legal certainty, others look backwards and seek to use the law to restrict the ability of libraries to guarantee meaningful information access to their users.

IFLA therefore follows the evolution of copyright reforms around the world, as well as bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that impact copyright regimes.

With the input of the IFLA copyright and other legal matters committee and network, we have compiled an inventory of recent and ongoing reforms that affect libraries and their services around the world. Following part 1, part 2 will identify topics that seem to be gaining importance in copyright reforms, and the approach that countries are adopting. It will be posted shortly.



Kenya – The Copyright Amendment Bill was introduced in 2017. It contains provisions towards the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty, provisions on the regulation of CMOs, fair dealing for the purposes of scientific research, private use, criticism or review of the reporting of current events, quotation, incidental inclusions, and an exception for the reproduction of works in libraries and archives, among others.

Lesotho – There is a copyright law review that will most likely implement the Marrakesh Treaty.

South Africa – There is a wide-ranging copyright reform going on. There is perhaps room for fair use to be included, and there are currently some good provisions in the bill: implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty, no copyright for official or legal texts, limitations on liability for librarians, a major expansion of fair dealing, a course-pack exception for illustration for teaching, and exceptions for parallel importation, e-lending, digital document supply, exhibition rights, and orphan works and out of commerce works. Discussions are expected to continue in March 2018.

Zimbabwe – Parliament ratified the Marrakesh Treaty in January 2018.



Australia – The copyright amendment on disabilities and other measures came into effect (most of the amendments) in December 2017. A new set of regulations also came into effect in December, which includes new exceptions for text and data mining for all library and archives uses, except for the flexible dealing exception in s200AB of the Act.

Also in December 2017, the Australian government introduced the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017. The government will soon release a discussion paper that is likely to include: consultation on how best to inject more flexibility into copyright law; consultation on what kind of orphan works scheme should be adopted; consultation on whether to enact that Productivity Commission’s recommendation to amend the Copyright Act to prevent contract overriding copyright exceptions (source).

The government has also just announced that they will be running an inquiry into online infringement in the first half of the year, focusing on the impact of services like Netflix on piracy in Australia.

China – a law on public libraries, which includes cultural rights, was passed in 2017.

Myanmar – Draft law was published in 2015.

Singapore – There was a first public consultation in October 2016 with 16 proposals, including an expiry date for copyright protection of unpublished works, use of orphan works, educational exceptions to reflect digital education, facilitating the work of libraries and archives, museums and galleries, provisions for print-disabled users, among others. A second consultation took place in May 2017. We await draft legislation.

Taiwan – In October 2017, the executive passed a draft amendment to the Copyright Act. It contains provisions on compulsory licensing for copyright works of rights holders for orphan works and fair use for distance education and digital archives.

Japan – The Copyright protection term has been extended from 50 to 70 years.



EU Copyright in the Digital Single Market – discussions around the proposal for a Directive in the Digital Single Market are still ongoing, with an expectation for the Parliament to vote in March 2018, and the Council of Ministers later on. The Directive contains exceptions on the topic of text and data mining, illustration for teaching, preservation and out of commerce works, and offers an opportunity for other topics to be included, such as e-lending (specially following the CJEU decision C-174/15 that interpreted that lending included the lending of digital works). Once it becomes law, member states will have to transpose it to their national legislation.

EU Directive and Regulation on Marrakesh – The EU Directive and Regulation entered into force, and once the instrument of ratification is deposited in WIPO, the treaty will be ratified by 28 more member states. EU member states need to implement the Directive into their national law before 11 October 2018.

Armenia – The new draft copyright law, published in 2017, is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Belarus – There is an ongoing copyright reform to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty (The Road to Ratification: Experiences in Developing and Transition Countries – Teresa Hackett)

Estonia – Potentially broad reforms on hold, waiting for EU legislation to pass.

Germany – The German copyright reform will come into force in March 2018. Among other things, the “small parts” of work that could be used has now been replaced by 15%, and 75% for personal scientific research; libraries, archives, museums and educational establishments shall reproduce works from their collections or exhibitions for non-commercial purposes; the German National Library shall be allowed to archive all cost-free online content that is not permanently accessible online; there is a new exception for text and data mining.

Ireland – A draft bill has been proposed. Among other things, the bill is likely to contain provisions that “allow libraries, archives and educational institutions to make copies of work in their collections for the purposes of preservation and inclusion in catalogues for exhibitions; extend existing copyright exemptions to: (i) promote not for profit research, including by introducing a text and data mining exception; (ii) widen the scope of the fair dealing exemption in the context of news reporting; and (iii) allow the creation of a voluntary digital deposit of books” (source).

Moldova – There are plans to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty soon (announcement).

Spain – There is an ongoing reform that aims at implementing the EU Directive on Marrakesh and the EU Directive on collective management of copyright.

Sweden – There was a public consultation period that closed January 8, 2018, with regards (among others?) to the transposition of the Marrakesh Directive. The government is preparing the new bill to be presented April 24, 2018.

Switzerland – The copyright working group reached an agreement in various issues related to the modernisation of copyright law in March 2017. It is now under exam by the chambres fédérales. The bill should contain provisions with regards to orphan works, cataloguing, extended collective licensing, secondary right of publication, and implement the Beijing and the Marrakesh treaties.

The Netherlands – there has been a consultation on the EU Marrakesh Directive in view of transposition.


Latin America and the Caribbean

Argentina – A public consultation process was open in March 2017 to reform the copyright law. There are broad proposals, including on reprographics, preservation, document supply and Marrakesh.

Colombia – The Colombian copyright reform touches on several topics: TPMs and exceptions on liability, temporary reproductions through electronic means, public lending, dedicated terminals, illustration for teaching, inter-library loan, orphan works and implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty, among others.

Uruguay – The copyright bill of May 2016 contains several exceptions: for the communication to the public, distribution, interpretation, execution, translation or adaptation of works by educational and research institutions; for reproductions of short extracts of works by educational institutions; for the reproduction of works for an analysis through computer means; for reproductions for preservations or to replace a work by cultural heritage institutions; for the public lending of works, exception for translations by cultural heritage institutions; and for the use of orphan works.


North America

Canada – The Canadian government launched a copyright review in December 2017. There will most likely be discussions on fair dealing and on the so-called “value gap”.


Trade Agreements

EU-Mercosur – The EU is currently negotiating a trade agreement with the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). The first negotiation round took place on 11 May 2016, followed by a negotiation round in October 2016. The chapter on intellectual property rights contains some worrying provisions: art. 4.7 sets the term of protection of a literary or artistic work in death+70 years (some of the parties have a shorter term), and art. 4.11 mandates the provision of adequate legal protection against the circumvention of TPMs. There is very little reference to exceptions and limitations (art. 4.10, which only adds temporary reproductions which are part of technological processes). A later version was leaked by Greenpeace. It contains some slight changes on the topic of exceptions and limitations. has a list of mandatory exceptions and limitations (art. 9.9.1): criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, research, and facilitating access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled, and a provision recognising their cross-border effect (9.9.2), both proposals by the Mercosur countries.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – Agreement signed by Mexico, Canada and the United States that is currently under revision.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP or TPP11)  The CPTPP is based on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed in February 2016, that never made it into force following withdrawal of the United States. The countries involved are Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. The CPTPP includes many of the elements that were negotiated as part of TPP but does not contain the TPP’s copyright chapter (so no copyright provisions).

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – Free trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand). It is expected to be signed in November 2018. The chapter on intellectual property has been strongly criticised. It only contains a provision on exceptions and limitations similar to the three-step-test, a provision forbidding the circumvention of TPMs, and a provision on the transparency and accountability of CMOs, among a few others.

Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – Agreement between the EU and Japan that was finalized on December 2017.


*Last update: 15/02/2018

*The information listed comes from the linked sources, and from the input provided by the experts of the IFLA copyright and other legal matters advisory committee and network. If readers spot any mistakes or missing information, please contact us and we will make the necessary changes.

We strongly welcome input from readers. Feel free to use the comments tool, or to write an email to or Thank you!

SDG 11: An Introduction for Libraries


Effective libraries stand at the heart of their communities. They are centres for learning and empowerment, places for meeting and building networks, and drivers of innovation and creativity.


This is what makes Sustainable Development Goal 11, which focuses on what is needed to ensure everyone can take place in community and civic life, such a great area for showing how libraries contribute to development. You can find out more about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and libraries on the IFLA website.


In 2018, IFLA will be bringing together stories and evidence about how libraries help deliver SDG11. This blog starts this process by bringing out seven key themes covered in the ten targets it covers, and how they relate to our institutions.


Libraries as Key Public Service

Target 11.1 underlines that all should have access to safe and affordable housing and basic services. Libraries have been recognised as a basic service for well over a century, seen as one of the best ways to give individuals the opportunity to read, learn, and improve their lives. Even for those who don’t have a regular home, libraries are there; IFLA has provided guidance for libraries serving people experiencing homelessness in order to help promote best practices.


Photo of Peckham Library, London

Peckham Library, London. Photo by Ross (CC-BY-SA 2.0

Libraries as Regenerators

Target 11.3 underlines the need for sustainable settlement planning and management. Libraries still have a powerful civic value, and can be the heart of efforts to bring prosperity back to previously depressed areas, as this article from the Goethe Institute suggests. From Peckham Library in South London to the new library in Stuttgart, Germany, Libraries can help turn districts around.


Libraries as Guardians of Cultural Heritage

Target 11.4 covers the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage. While museums and galleries may hold paintings, sculptures and objects, libraries hold much of our written heritage. The books, manuscripts, newspapers – and increasingly websites – that they collect are essential for any effort to understand our past. As a huge network of expertise and dedication, the world’s libraries are essential for achieving this target, as the IFLA statement of 2017 underlines.


Libraries as Emergency Service

Target 11.5 focuses on disaster readiness, and the need to plan for the worst in order to avoid it. Libraries themselves are of course not immune to damage from both natural and man-made disasters. IFLA’s Risk Register offers a complement to national registers of unique collections, in order to help target safeguarding efforts in times of crisis, and a number of its Preservation and Conversation Centres focus on disaster response.


But libraries are not just victims. They can also provide a secondary emergency service as a community centre and provider of Internet access.  As was seen in Texas after the hurricanes of 2017, libraries have proved their potential as an anchor in disaster-struck areas.


Dunhuang Lanuscript Digitisation (Photo International Dunhuang Project, CC-BY-SA 3.0

Libraries as Reducers of Waste

Target 11.6 underlines the need for cities to reduce their environmental impact. Pollution, waste, and the use of land that would otherwise be green all play a role. Libraries themselves have often served as showcases of greener building techniques – Greenpoint Library in Brooklyn, New York will even share a building with an Environmental Education Centre, and IFLA’s Environment, Sustainability and Libraries Special Interest Group has its own Green Libraries Checklist. But libraries are also, arguably, a forerunner of the sharing economy – allowing one book to serve many different users. And today, there are countless stories of libraries lending other things, such as tools, helping to cut back on consumption and so waste.


Libraries as Public Space

Target 11.7 calls for the provision of safe, inclusive and accessible public spaces for all. This is an important role, given that many groups still feel insecure in many places that are supposed to be open for them. Risk of harassment, rigid social codes, crime, noise, and physical inaccessibility can all make spaces less public than they should be. The concept of libraries as ‘third spaces’ is well-established, and IFLA has a number of guidelines designed to ensure everyone can feel welcome in our institutions. Perhaps the most powerful example is still that of Colombia, where libraries have been at the forefront of efforts to help communities affected by violence come together and build a peaceful future.


Women farmers in Nakaseke District, Uganda (Photo EIFL CC-BY 4.0

Libraries as Development Hubs

Target 11a focuses on the link between urban and rural development. As a network of professionals united by the same values and objectives, libraries can play a role here too, from mobile libraries sent out from towns to surrounding villages (such as in Ghana’s Upper Volta region) to using TV White Space to bring Internet access to all. The work of Uganda’s national library, based in Kampala, to engage through local libraries and telecentres to bring information, knowledge and skills to women farmers in rural areas, provides a great example of how libraries can make the link between the capital and the countryside.



Clearly this is not the only look at how libraries contribute to communities. The Australian Library and Information Association’s submission to a consultation on smart cities looks at libraries as urban development hubs, technology hotspots, supports for business and enterprise, and as a place to learn throughout life. And a report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services focuses on how libraries can engage in – and boost – community wellbeing.

Libraries and the UN in 2018

IFLA Secretary General at the launch of the Development and Access to Information Report 2017

2017 was a big year for libraries and the UN. On the ground, librarians from 75 countries committed to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, and get involved in national plans to deliver them. At the international level, IFLA launched the first Development and Access to Information report, a partnership with the Technology and Social Change Group at the University of Washington.


So what’s happening in 2018? This blog offers a look at what’s happening at the regional and global levels between now and the end of the year. Keep an eye on the Library Development Programme webpages to hear more about upcoming International Advocacy Programme!


High Level Political Forum 2018

The highlight will be the High Level Political Forum in July, where national governments come together to discuss progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Just as last year, a few SDGs have been chosen for special attention. This allows more in-depth discussion of these specific goals, without forgetting interlinkages with other parts of the 2030 Agenda.


Importantly for IFLA, SDG11 is one of these. Under the title Sustainable Cities and Communities, it’s the Sustainable Development Goal that covers all libraries do to build more cohesive societies, and to safeguard cultural heritage. It’s a great opportunity to highlight how libraries stand at the hearts of the villages, towns and cities they serve. You can get an idea of this contribution from this report published by the European Parliament late last year.


IFLA will be there, underlining that at essential actors in preservation and community-building, libraries must be at the heart of relevant decision-making processes.


The Preparation

However, the High Level Political Forum is far from everything. Much of the work – and indeed a richer opportunity to contribute – comes in the series of regional meetings held between March and May. These are organised by the UN’s regional economic and social commissions and look at the delivery of the SDGs – and in particular those in focus that year – from a more local perspective.


IFLA will also aim to be active at all of these – especially given how important SDG 11 is for our institutions. It is also an opportunity to meet with UN experts and government representatives from the region, and put libraries on their agenda.


Voluntary National Reviews

UN Headquarters, New York

It’s important to remember that the 2030 Agenda is about more than just the Sustainable Development Goals themselves. It’s also about monitoring and measuring progress towards them. A key tool for this is voluntary national reviews, where Member States submit a report and present what they are doing to achieve the SDGs. At the High Level Political Forum, they also take questions from other governments and civil society.


Clearly these are voluntary, and state-led, meaning that they are not necessarily a tough interrogation. However, they are a great opportunity to share good practice. And through the preparation process – which should involve consultation with civil society (such as library associations), they are an opportunity to make the voice of libraries heard and their contribution known. IFLA will be encouraging libraries in relevant countries to get involved in the voluntary national review process this year.  You can find out more by reading the guidelines produced by the UN for volunteering countries this year.


Looking Ahead

A key issue in 2018 will be preparation for 2019. This is special because it is the year that the Sustainable Development Goals as a whole will be reviewed. Targets may change. And following this, indicators also as part of a parallel process due to conclude in 2020. Having put so much into ensuring that access to information is included in the SDGs, we will need to ensure it stays, alongside other targets that reflect the work of libraries.


2019 will also be the year that three crucial SDGs for libraries will be in focus – access to information (as part of SDG16), education (SDG4) and employment (SDG8). IFLA will be focusing its efforts to make sure we make the most of this chance to let everyone know how essential and innovative our institutions are.


UN Reform

Following the arrival of its new Secretary-General, António Gutteres in 2017, the United Nations has been looking at its own structures and processes. A review of its development work has been central to this, with many UN agencies operating their own programmes independently. To ensure a great impact, the Secretary-General is looking to promote stronger coordination at the national level.


The process is not yet over, but a priority seems to be to give a greater role to UN coordinators at the regional and national level. This should help ensure that initiatives taking place are coherent. As already recommended to International Advocacy Programme Participants, making contact with these representatives of the UN will be a great way to put libraries on the agenda for development policies. You can find a report of the latest discussions here.



2018 is looking busy – we hope you’ll be able to join us, through your actions, your ideas, your examples, and your presence! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!