Tag Archives: copyright literacy

Building Understanding, Building Confidence: Interview with Chris Morrison on the University of Kent’s Copyright Literacy Strategy

Copyright can all too often seem complicated, scary, or both. Yet having a sense of what it does, and does not permit can help avoid accidental infringements, as well as preventing situations where library users do not take full advantage of the possibilities open to them.

Chris Morrison, at the University of Kent in the UK – co-owner of copyrightliteracy.org – has done extensive work on the subject, as well as co-developing games such as ‘Copyright, the Card Game’ in order to build confidence. He has also played a key role in developing a copyright literacy strategy at the University of Kent, UK. We interviewed him to find out more.


What is the state of copyright literacy currently among students, faculty and librarians?

This is difficult to say with certainty. But we did run a survey last year asking our academics how confident they felt in dealing with copyright issues and the majority didn’t feel as confident as they would like to. I certainly still get asked a lot of questions that show people still want clear guidance on how to address copyright issues.

How much appreciation was there of the need for a focused approach to copyright literacy?

As you know, this is something that Jane Secker (City, University of London and co-owner of copyrightliteracy.org) and I have been talking about for some time. Copyright is often not many people’s favourite subject, but when I started talking to colleagues about focussing on a clear institutional vision on copyright literacy they were all very supportive. Everybody seems to have some experience of working with copyright where they have or might benefit from institutional support.

For you, what is the value added of a strategy?

In the past I may have been a bit cynical about strategy documents. They can sometimes seem a bit vague – making obvious statements as part of a box ticking exercise. But after many years of working with copyright, I became convinced that going through a process of making a formal statement would be beneficial. It’s allowed me to present my vision and ideas to my colleagues and incorporate it with their experiences and ideas to create something which I think is really valuable.

What did you need to do to get to the stage of getting this drafted and approved?

We ran the development of the strategy as a project, getting together a representative working group of academic and professional services staff and holding a number of workshops. This allowed us to start off capturing lots of ideas before looking at specific position statements. I then shared drafts with student representatives, as well as experts and peers across the university sector and beyond,  before submitting to the formal approval process at Kent.

How are you approaching the question of balance between exclusive rights and enabling use?

Unsurprisingly this was one of the biggest areas of contention when developing the strategy. Universities use copyright content, but they also generate valuable intellectual property which they may want choose who gets access to and under what terms. When we realised that we weren’t trying to resolve this tension, but acknowledge it and help people make sense of it in the context of their own work, we were able to make progress.

What are you looking forward to most in the implementation?

Other than the satisfaction of a job well done it will be the ability to finally answer the question “but what does the University say about that”? I think this document reflects that a university, or any large institution has multiple perspectives, but that we should ultimately be focusing on our teaching, research and engagement.

What do you think will be most challenging?

We have a huge challenge in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, so I think the interesting question is whether this strategy actually helps us to do the best work we can.

What does success look like in 5 years’ time?

We have a section on measuring success in the strategy. It’s a difficult thing to pin down in quantitative terms, but we’re planning on capturing lots of case studies and examples of where our approach has helped us.

Is this an experience that you think could be replicated elsewhere – both in the UK and globally?

Yes, I think it could. I’ve already received positive feedback from those who have seen the strategy, some of whom have said they are thinking of doing something similar. The strategy is available under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence so others are free to adapt it if they want. But I would recommend going through a proper process of working out what statements might be right for your institution in collaboration with your colleagues and students or users of your library/information service. I certainly wouldn’t recommend adopting a strategy like this as a box ticking exercise.

Copyright for libraries in 2019: What’s on the Agenda? Part 1

Copyright Week 2019 - Day 1

Today is the first day of Copyright Week 2019!

Copyright week is an initiative launched by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in order to highlight key issues around copyright. Every day, various groups, all defenders of a copyright framework that promotes creativity and innovation, look into specific copyright policy matters.

Of course this includes IFLA! Given the central role that copyright plays in libraries’ work, we will be participating by posting a blog post a day. We encourage librarians around the world to do the same by writing and tweeting about #Copyright4Libraries.

This first blog of the week looks at what is coming up in 2019 in copyright around the world with a potential impact for libraries. We have gathered information thanks to the IFLA Advisory Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters and its network. We’ll be following the same model as last year, when we published a first blog focusing on legislation, and a second one on wider trends.

Being aware of ongoing copyright reforms is relevant for the advocacy efforts of libraries nationally, regionally and internationally at the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

By mapping what is going on, we are better able to provide support to our members in local copyright reforms, and to get a general view of policy trends. We hope that it will also support other advocacy efforts by librarians in all regions of the world. All the information you’ll see below is gathered in an online document, available here. Comments and additional information are very welcome – either contact ariadna.matas[at]ifla.org, or leave your ideas below.

You may also be interested in this blog post that we posted before the end of 2018. It looks at what happened throughout 2018 and what copyright reforms were finalized. Marrakesh implementation efforts are not included in this overview, but you can check our regularly-updated tables on that matter, available here.

And from there, we start with what is coming up in the following months:



There is a 2018 copyright review extended to several sectors including libraries.


A Copyright amendment Bill was introduced in 2017. The main areas of the amendments proposed by the Copyright (Amendment) Bill are the following:

  • Computer Programs, captured within fair dealing;
  • Circumvention of Technological Protection measures, now a possibility in limited situations;
  • Exceptions for reproduction of works in formats accessible specifically by the visually impaired or otherwise disabled (Marrakesh Treaty);
  • Introduction of artist resale rights and the provision for visual artists to form CMO’s;
  • Collection of royalties by the Kenya Revenue Authority of imports of audio recording equipment and accessories (has elicited much debate);
  • Protection now availed for the rights of a producer of sound recordings;
  • Introduction of circumstances affording protection of ISP’s against infringement;
  • Introduction of corporate liability for infringement;
  • Mechanisms for investigation of CMO’s and actions against board members.

Sources:  http://www.eifl.net/news/eifl-and-klisc-comment-kenya-isp-liability-proposals; https://www.musicinafrica.net/sites/default/files/attachments/article/201801/copyrightamendmentbill2017no33.pdf.


The government has announced its intention to review the current copyright legislation and is welcoming inputs


The Nigerian copyright bill was approved by the Cabinet and is now before Parliament.

Source: www.copyright.gov.ng/index.php/public-notice/item/268-nigerian-copyright-reform-review-of-the-copyright-act-cap-c28-laws-of-the-federation-of-nigeria-2004

IFLA will be submitting comments once the official approved Bill is available online.


The Uganda Law Reform Commission is working on a draft document. It appears like the draft is still closed to the public for discussion.



A consultation paper was released in March. It looked mainly at flexible exceptions, access to orphan works and contracting out of copyright exceptions.

Source: https://www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/copyright-modernisation-consultation

IFLA’s full submission is available here: https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/clm/submission_international_federation_library_associations_and_institutions_ifla.pdf

The Australian LIbraries Copyright Committee’s submission is available here http://libcopyright.org.au/our-work/submission/alcc-submission-copyright-modernisation-consultation.


A draft law was published in 2015, and the current status is unclear. There are provisions on foreign protection, and also some regarding libraries and education.

Source: www.eifl.net/news/getting-ready-myanmars-new-copyright-system; www.eifl.net/eifl-in-action/copyright-reform-myanmar

New Zealand

The review of New Zealand copyright law continues, with news of Google visits to the country to undertake lobbying. A coverage in Stuff suggests efforts by the company to gain legal recognition for its upload filtering technologies (as may happen in Europe). We are waiting on further updates on legislation, as well as on Marrakesh Ratification, which is also under discussion.

Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/105892772/google-and-rights-holders-battle-over-copyright-reform


There was a first public consultation in October 2016 with 16 proposals, and a second one in May 2017. It is a broad reform, with some steps for libraries and archives: 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. Text and data mining is also on the table.


European Union

The Commission proposed a Draft Directive for copyright in the Digital Single Market in 2016. Discussions are ongoing between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council, but close to being finalized. Preliminary agreements have been reached on several exceptions and limitations and on the out of commerce works provisions.

Reviews of the Orphan Works Directive and Collective Rights Management Directives are also due, but there is no indication of when these may be launched


Position papers by IFLA available here: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/91774


The new draft copyright law, published in 2017, was expected to be completed by the end of 2018. It contains provisions for libraries, archives & education, and orphan works.

Source: www.eifl.net/eifl-in-action/copyright-reform-armenia


The potentially broad copyright reform is on hold, while waiting for EU legislation on copyright to pass.


Israel has recently passed legislation on orphan works which would create welcome new possibilities for libraries, subject to reasonable diligence in a search for rightholders.


The copyright working group reached an agreement on various issues related to the modernisation of copyright law in March 2017. 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.

Sources: https://www.ige.ch/en/law-and-policy/national-ip-law/copyright-law/archive/agur12.html; https://www.ejpd.admin.ch/dam/data/ejpd/aktuell/news/2017/2017-11-22/medienrohstoff-f.pdf


Jan 2018, amendments were approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. There was an impact assessment on balanced goals; allow use of online licenses, freedom of panorama, orphan works and Marrakesh treaty provisions.

Latin America and the Caribbean


There was a green paper proposal made to stakeholders with a meeting in December 2016. A public consultation process was open in March 2017 to reform the copyright law. Broad proposals, including on reprographics, preservation, document supply and Marrakesh. Consultations are still ongoing.

Sources: https://www.vialibre.org.ar/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2017.03.Propuestas-para-una-actualizaci%C3%B3n-de-la-Ley-11723.Documento.Oficial.DNDA_.pdf

Green paper readout: http://www.ip-watch.org/2017/02/17/argentinian-copyright-office-proposes-add-exceptions-limitations-copyright-act/.

Open discussion forum on proposals to modify the law, in platform of justice: https://www.justicia2020.gob.ar/; http://laijle.alacde.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036&context=journal; http://revistaacc.econ.uba.ar/entrevista.php?n=YaeV


There was some talk of a review in 2017, and the decree supporting a move towards passing legislation necessary to implement Marrakesh was signed. This could also be an opportunity for further changes in a country that currently has no exceptions and limitations for libraries.


We received news on discussions around open access to publicly funded research at Congress in 2018.


The copyright bill contains a large number of exceptions (first in Uruguay): 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. The dossier is pending for discussion at the Comisión de Educación y Cultura de la Cámara de Representantes.

Sources: position by the Library Association of Uruguay: http://www.abu.net.uy/tag/derechos-de-autor/ and an update from Creative Commons Uruguay http://www.creativecommons.uy/tag/reforma-del-derecho-de-autor/

IFLA has written to encourage progress.

North America


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”. Throughout 2018, the Canadian Parliament continues to carry out its review of the country’s copyright laws, taking evidence from different sides of the debate. Libraries are arguing for the current fair dealing provisions to be safeguarded, as well as engaging in discussions around copyright and indigenous knowledge, technological protection measures, and contract override. In parallel, legal processes involving Canadian universities, education ministries and the reprographic rights collecting society Access Copyright continue, as does a review of how copyright royalties are defined. You can read more on the pages of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries and the Canadian Federation of Library Associations. Results of the review are expected towards the middle of next year and will inform policy choices made by whoever wins the elections due in October 2019.

Sources: http://www.ourcommons.ca/Committees/en/INDU/StudyActivity?studyActivityId=9897131; http://www.carl-abrc.ca/influencing-policy/copyright/2018-review-of-the-copyright-act/; http://cfla-fcab.ca/fr/copyright/

IFLA submitted comments in October 2018: https://www.ifla.org/node/82020.

Library/university institutions submitted comments, for instance: CFLA-FCAB http://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/421/INDU/Brief/BR9921734/br-external/CanadianFederationOfLibraryAssociations-e.pdf; Universities Canada http://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/421/INDU/Brief/BR10002433/br-external/UniversitiesCanada-e.pdf; or the Canadian Association of Research Libraries http://www.carl-abrc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/CARL_brief_to_INDU_copyright_en.pdf.

United States

Discussions continue around whether the Register of Copyrights (Head of the US Copyright Office) should be a presidential appointment, or rather hired by the Librarian of Congress. The issue was not decided by the previous Congress.

Sources: https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/keep-copyright-office-in-library-of-congress/, https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1010?r=86

Trade Agreements


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.

Resources: https://trade-leaks.org/mercosur-leaks/intellectual-property-rights-3/.


The EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement, signed in July, contains a chapter on intellectual property. The agreement is expected to become effective as soon as 1 February 2019. It includes the following provisions relevant to libraries:

  • An encouragement to both sides to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty (this should be achieved by next year) (14.4.3(f))
  • Encouragement to raise awareness about the protection of intellectual property (although there is a reference to the use of IP) (14.7)
  • Exclusive Rights (14.8):
    • Reproduction, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means (for authors)
    • Distribution, by sale or otherwise (but the details of exhaustion/first sale are left to the parties) (for authors)
    • Communication to the public (for authors)
    • To note that there are also fixation and post-fixation rights for broadcasters (14.11)
    • Term of protection set at life+70 for authors, and 70 years from creation for works by moral persons (14.13)
  • Limitations and Exceptions (14.14)
    • Each Party may provide for limitations or exceptions to the rights set out in Articles 14.8 to 14.12 only in certain special cases which neither conflict with a normal exploitation of the subject matter nor unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the right holders, in accordance with the conventions and international agreements to which it is party.
  • Resale Right (14.15)
    • There is to be an exchange of views on this
  • Collective Management (14.16)
    • The agreement promotes cooperation, transparency, and non-discrimination
  • Public Domain (14.17)
    • At least works that are already in the public domain are not going to be brought back under copyright.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RECP)

RCEP is a 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). The chapter on intellectual property (not sure it is the right document) 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.

Resources: Status of the RCEP Negotiations (as at November 2018) in the Australian Government’s webpage: https://dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/negotiations/rcep/news/Pages/joint-leaders-statement-on-the-rcep-negotiations-14-november-2018-singapore.aspx


Negotiations have opened on a trade deal between the European Union and Australia. A blog from Rita Matulionyte at the University of Newcastle, Australia, explores the potential impact on copyright, suggesting that the EU is unlikely to have much to ask for beyond the concessions Australia already made as part of its trade deal with the United States. The main area is likely to be platforms where, the blog suggests, the EU may both push for extension of safe harbour provisions to commercial operators, but also application of whatever rules on upload filtering come out of the current copyright reforms within the blog.

Resources: http://copyrightblog.kluweriplaw.com/2018/08/02/future-eu-australia-fta-copyright-expect-ip-chapter/


Reflexiones tras el webinar con FEBAB: la IFLA ante la OMPI y perspectivas ante la Unión Europea

[Versión en inglés disponible aquí]

Hace unos días participé en un webinar organizado por comisión brasilera de derechos de autor y acceso abierto FEBAB, la Federação Brasileira de Associações de Bibliotecários. Es el primero de cuatro webinars, una serie que busca acercar al sector bibliotecario al ámbito del derecho de autor en Brasil y a nivel internacional. Fue moderado por Sueli Mara Ferreira, de la Universidad de Sao Paulo, y contó con la colaboración de Anderson de Santana, también de la Universidad de Sao Paulo, y de Walter Couto, doctorando en ciencias de la información en la misma institución.

Centré la presentación alrededor de la actividad de la IFLA ante la Organización Mundial de la Propiedad Intelectual (OMPI) y de los cambios en materia de derechos de autor que están teniendo lugar en la Unión Europea. La OMPI es una agencia especializada de las naciones unidas a cargo de patentes, marcas, derechos de aturo y otros temas relacionados. La IFLA está representada desde hace años en su comité de derechos de autor, el SCCR (siglas dadas por su nombre en inglés, el Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights), como organización no gubernamental. En este foro, la IFLA defiende la necesidad de avanzar hacia un instrumento internacional que garantice excepciones y limitaciones al derecho de autor adecuadas par el funcionamiento de bibliotecas, archivos y museos.

No estoy segura de si el webinar fue interesante para los participantes (¡aunque espero que sí!) pero ciertamente lo fue para mí. Hubo diversas preguntas muy interesantes que invitan a la reflexión. Las preguntas muestran la clara preocupación del sector bibliotecario por la falta de adaptación del derecho de autor al trabajo de las bibliotecas. No se trata de pequeñeces, y ya ni siquiera de adaptar la ley al mundo digital. Se trata de aspectos fundamentales como la preservación o el préstamo público. Mientras que determinados países cuentan con excepciones y limitaciones al derecho de autor que autorizan expresamente este tipo de usos de interés público, la ley de derecho de autor en Brasil no cuenta con ninguna excepción ni limitación al derecho de autor.

Esto deja a los bibliotecarios en un estado de indefensión y preocupación constante sobre los usos que se hace de las obras en bibliotecas. Aún y los muchos esfuerzos que hacen los bibliotecarios para explicar al usuario final cómo utilizar las obras, es incontrolable. Sin ninguna garantía, las bibliotecas temen ser responsables de malos usos por falta de información, especialmente dado que se puede llegar a discutir que todo uso lo puede ser, incluso siendo de interés público, sin una ley de propiedad intelectual adaptada que lo ampare.

Los avances ante la organización mundial de la propiedad intelectual dan cierta esperanza al sector bibliotecario en los países en los que los cambios no están teniendo lugar por falta de iniciativa a nivel nacional. El tratado de Marrakech y su rapidez en ser ratificado o adherido por los estados miembros de las naciones unidas es un muy buen ejemplo del efecto que tienen este tipo de instrumentos. Estos estados han debido hacer cambios a su legislación nacional que de no ser por el tratado probablemente no habrían tenido lugar. El mismo Director General de la OMPI Francis Gurry señaló en la última asamblea general de la OMPI que el tratado de Marrakech se estaba moviendo a una rapidez que excedía la de cualquier otro tratado de la organización.

A continuación intento responder a dos preguntas, en mi opinión muy relevantes, que planteó Walter Eller do Couto durante el webinar:

1. El Convenio de Berna establece el principio del “trato nacional”, según el cual los países deben aplicar su legislación a los extranjeros. Esto puede dificultar el trabajo del bibliotecario, que necesita conocer el derecho de autor de varios países. ¿Es posible vislumbrar algo parecido al Tratado de Marrakech en relación a las otras limitaciones excepciones para facilitar este tipo de actividades transfronterizas?

La IFLA ha venido insistiendo en la necesidad de un tal tratado precisamente para hacer frente a la difícil aplicación del derecho de autor de forma transfronteriza si no existen unos estándares mínimos a través de fronteras (perdiéndose muchas posibilidades de colaboración e intercambio cultural), y a la vez para forzar el cambio legislativo en países que de forma individual no están tomando la iniciativa, aunque sea posible bajo el Convenio de Berna.

Sin embargo, en el seno de la OMPI, determinados países se oponen (principalmente la Unión Europea, lo cual es sorprendente dado que ya cuentan con excepciones y limitaciones al derecho de autor para instituciones del patrimonio cultural e incluso las están adaptando al mundo digital). Alegan que los países ya tienen libertad para legislar, y no están a favor de un instrumento internacional con efecto vinculante.

El comité de derechos de autor de la OMPI ha definido un plan de acción, que tras varias reuniones regionales y un ejercicio de intercambio de ideas, finaliza con una conferencia internacional. Ésta tiene como objetivo “tomar en consideración los frenos y contrapesos de las distintas soluciones internacionales destinadas a hacer frente a los desafíos reconocidos, por ejemplo, arreglos contractuales, recomendaciones conjuntas, tratados u otras formas, según corresponda”.

2. Hablando de asumir riesgos, la historia del derecho de autor tiene casos de bibliotecas que desafían la legislación, asumiendo riesgos para poder hacer su trabajo. Un ejemplo es el nacimiento de la Sección 108 en la legislación estadounidense, que surgió tras una disputa judicial entre una editorial y una biblioteca. ¿Cómo es el posicionamiento de la IFLA en relación a conductas de bibliotecas que desean asumir riesgos incluso sin salvaguardias legales?

La IFLA no tiene posición oficial al respecto, y es claramente una situación muy delicada. Sin embargo, recientemente la IFLA adoptó una posición sobre alfabetización y educación en materia de derecho de autor. Esta declaración insiste en la necesidad para el sector bibliotecario de tener un mínimo de conocimientos sobre el derecho de autor y hace una serie de recomendaciones. No resuelve el tema que plantea la pregunta, pero reconoce que la falta de conocimientos en este ámbito, y sobre todo la falta de legislación adaptada, puede ser muy problemático. Por otro lado, anima a más conocimiento como un primer paso para que el sector entienda de forma global la necesidad de cambio legislativo, y lo impulse.

Los bibliotecarios hacen esfuerzos para asegurar el cumplimiento de la ley, pero en algunas ocasiones, ésta está tan lejos de la misión principal de las bibliotecas de preservar y facilitar acceso al conocimiento, que se plantean situaciones imposibles de resolver a no ser que los bibliotecarios actúen sin tener la completa seguridad de estar dentro de la legalidad. Hay claramente una necesidad urgente de cambios a nivel legislativo.

Para más información, el webinar completo está disponible en la página YouTube de FEBAB.

Thoughts after the FEBAB webinar: IFLA’s work at WIPO and current perspectives in the European copyright reform

[Spanish version available here]

A few days ago, I took part in a webinar organised by the copyright and open access committee of FEBAB, the Brazilian Federation of Library Associations. It was the first of four webinars that seek to inform the library field about copyright in Brazil and at the international level. It was moderated by Sueli Mara Ferreira, from the University of Sao Paulo, and was co-hosted by Anderson de Santana and Walter Couto, from the same institution.

My presentation focused on IFLA’s advocacy work at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and on the European copyright reform. WIPO is a United Nations specialised agency in charge of patents, trademarks, copyright and other related matters. Since several years, IFLA has been represented in this institution’s copyright committee, the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), a forum in which IFLA defends the need to advance towards an international instrument that guarantees exceptions and limitations to copyright suited to the functioning of libraries, archives and museums.

I am not entirely sure of whether the webinar was helpful to participants (although hopefully it was!) but it certainly was to me. There were many interesting questions that referred to key challenges for the library profession around copyright. These questions show the struggle that librarians face when dealing with outdated copyright laws in their work. And by outdated I do not only mean that they are not adapted to the digital world: in some cases, they simply do not allow for fundamental activities such as preservation or lending. While some countries have exceptions and limitations to copyright that expressly allow some public interest activities, copyright in Brazil, for instance, has no exception at all.

This puts librarians in a very difficult position, having to constantly worry about copyright law infringement. Also, even if librarians are careful in guiding the user in how to use works, they cannot control all their actions. With no guarantee, librarians are worried that they might be considered guilty of infringements by users, especially under a legislative framework where any use, even when it is part of public interest activities, can be considered an infringement.

Progress at WIPO gives hope to the sector in countries in which the necessary change has not taken place. The Marrakesh Treaty and its numerous ratifications and accessions by United Nations member states is a very good example of the impact of an international instrument. Changes are happening at the national level that wouldn’t otherwise have taken place.

Two particular questions raised at the webinar are worth exploring in this blog:

  1. The Bern convention establishes the principle of “national treatment”, according to which countries need to apply its own legislation to third party nationals. This may make librarians’ work difficult, as they need to figure out what copyright laws say elsewhere when working across borders. Would it be possible to adopt something similar to the Marrakesh Treaty regarding other exceptions and limitations that can facilitate cross-border work?

IFLA has been advocating for the need of an international instrument, precisely to face the difficulty in applying copyright law across borders where no minimum standards exist. This would also encourage legislative change at the national level.

However, several WIPO member states oppose such an instrument (mainly the European Union, which is surprising given the fact that it already has exceptions and limitations to copyright for cultural heritage institutions and that it is now adopting them to the digital world).

Given the lack of consensus, the SCCR has defined an action plan to advance discussions on the topic, which among other things, establishes several regional meetings, a brainstorming exercise, and finalizes with an international conference whose goal is “to consider the opportunities and challenges provided by various international solutions including soft law, contractual/licensing and normative approaches, as appropriate”.

  1. In the history of copyright, there have been cases in which libraries challenge legislation and assume risks in order to do their work. An example is at the origin of the creation of Section 108 in US legislation, which was created after a legal dispute among a publishing house and a library. What is IFLA’s position regarding libraries wishing to take risks to do their jobs even with no adequate legal guarantees?

IFLA has no official position on that matter, which is clearly a delicate situation. However, IFLA recently adopted a Statement on Copyright Education and Copyright Literacy. The document insists on the need for librarians to have a minimum knowledge of copyright and also makes a series of recommendations. While it does not solve the question, it recognises that the lack of an adequate legal framework in this area can be very problematic. It also encourages more knowledge as a first step for the library field in order to understand the need for change in copyright law, and to advocate for it.

Librarians make efforts to ensure that copyright law is respected, but in some occasions the legal framework is so far away from their public interest mission that they are put in difficult situations. There is clearly an urgent need for change in copyright legislation.

For more information, check the full webinar (in Spanish and Portuguese) on FEBAB’s webpage.