Tag Archives: copyright reform

COVID-19 Impacts on Cultural Industries and Education and Research Institutions: Key Questions from the WIPO Report

Tomorrow, the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) will hold an information session on the impact of COVID-19 on the cultural and creative industries, on the one hand, and on education and research on the other.

This follows requests from Member States at the previous meeting, conscious of the need to make sense of the experience of actors affected by copyright – either as owners, or as users, of relevant materials. While the meeting formally takes place outside of the SCCR agenda, its place at the beginning of the week will mean that it has the potential to shape discussions over the following days.

To support this, WIPO has published a commissioned study, based both on a series of responses to a call for evidence, and interviews with experts in different countries. The terms of reference for the study have not been shared, but it looks both to tackle the broader question of experiences (as mandated by the last meeting), and to cite case studies of initiatives taken (which goes beyond the mandate).

Ahead of this session – which will be available on WIPO’s webcasting service – this blog looks at some of the questions and issues raised by the report (intentionally or otherwise), and which the meeting tomorrow can hopefully address.


Public spending needed… but on what terms?

A consistent message from the report is the sense that governments need to step in to provide financial and other support, to institutions, businesses and individuals working with copyright where these would otherwise risk disappearing or disengaging. The report underlines in particular that the pandemic has represented a major shock to those actors depending on in-person engagement and activities, such as concerts, author events, or museum visits, as well as events where much business is done, such as book fairs.

Some – but not all – governments have of course taken action to help otherwise viable businesses from failing. The report underlines that more could and should have been done however, with independent authors in a particularly tough situation.

Looking forwards, however, this does raise the question of how to ensure that this support has maximum positive impact. Beyond the preservation of employment, how can this serve to support public interest goals, such as access to education, research and culture?


Digital here to stay, but how?

The report is clear about the fact that the shift to digital is going to be a lasting phenomenon, raising the question of how to ensure the sustainability of digital activities. It underlines components of a response, including efforts to get more people online, training and support for digital maturity, and new policy approaches in general.

A crucial point made is that libraries themselves have invested significantly in digital content – often paying again for the same material that they had already bought in physical format. Clearly, it cannot be sustainable for libraries to pay twice for the same things.

In terms of recommendations, the report does highlight the need to ‘provide clarity to institutions and organizations regarding the copyright implications of moving towards a digital world, and to evaluate appropriate means and innovative ways to make digital uses easier’.

Of course, this could be read either as a case for providing more flexible exceptions and limitations that adapt to needs, or for facilitating licensing. It is to be hoped that COVID will not be used as an excuse to extend the reach of licensing at the expense of the sort of free exceptions that libraries have traditionally relied on extensively, draining their resources.

More worrying is the suggestion that copyright for digital works should be tighter than that for physical ones (i.e. have weaker limitations and exceptions) in order to protect investments. This is to argue that there is less need to protect possibilities for education, research and cultural participation online than in person.

This of course flies in the face of the argument that rights offline should also be protected online, and indeed the case made by the UN Secretary-General that more effort is required to ensure that it is not only the decisions of private companies that should determine what we can and cannot do digitally.


An under-supply of digital content

A persistent issue is the lack of digital content available, especially in developing regions. The report suggests that this is sometimes due to a lack of capacity, but can also be the result of a conscious choice by rightholders not to make works available in digital form, for example due to apparent fears of piracy.

This raises a serious issue about the functioning of markets, and whether it really serves societal interest for works not to be sold in a form that works for people who may not be able to access libraries or bookshops, or even work with physical copies of books. The report suggests more licensing, but this has been a possibility for a long time, and does not seem to have delivered.

Instead, it’s worth remembering that it was the under-supply of accessible format works that underpinned the Marrakesh Treaty, which opened up the possibility to carry out format-shifting of works to make them accessible.

A parallel argument is that the ability of creators themselves to use digital platforms could be a useful area of focus. This is an area where libraries, through providing public access, can indeed help, although to do so need to have the necessary resources to offer such services.


Impacts are varied

At least terms of market impacts on different sectors, the story varies. For example, while extensively citing European research suggesting that the publishing sector there suffered strongly, it notes that publishing in the United States continued to grow. The US of course is characterised by a very flexible copyright regime – fair use – while another country whose model is celebrated, Canada, is also under regular attach from rightholders for the flexibility of their education exceptions.

In addition, the pandemic is reported as having been particularly hard for authors who, in addition to the impacts of falling sales (where sales actually fell), also missed out on other opportunities to earn, such as book fairs and signings. The same goes for performers, and people working as freelancers or on temporary contracts. This does raise questions about terms of employment, and what can be done to ensure fairer distribution of revenues to those missing out.


Anecdotes and rules

A point alluded to in the title is that the focus on examples of initiatives in the report goes beyond what was in the mandate proposed by Member States. This is of course valuable in terms of providing illustrations, but can also lead to the impression that everything is going well.

Furthermore, the report fails to reflect the view of many libraries that these initiatives, while welcome, were often hard to implement and were withdrawn well before the end of the pandemic – see IFLA’s own report on libraries, copyright and COVID-19 for more. Indeed, there is the argument that they were often intended as marketing exercises, aimed at building use of and reliance on services which could then be charged for.

The more systematic examples come the US, where the flexibility provided by fair use is underlined as having enabled initiatives like the Hathi Trust Emergency Temporary Access Service. These arguably provide better pointers for how to build resilience than individual stories that may depend on a wide variety of other factors which are potentially not replicable.


And an old cliché about lending and sales…

The report does touch a number of times on the relationship between library activities and sales. There are unsubstantiated claims about the impact of higher levels of library lending and use. The one reference given is to a speculative conclusion in a German study about future impacts of eLending. This same study also underlines that cutting back on library lending is unlikely to lead to any increase in the purchasing of eBooks.

These arguments also do not sit well with the report’s conclusion that increased spending by libraries on digital content raises sustainability concerns for our institutions. In this case, the question needs rather to be ‘where is the money’?

Going further, unfortunately, it also repeats old tropes implying that the work of libraries is not significantly different to copyright piracy. These betray a fundamental misunderstanding of what copyright is about and how limitations and exceptions work. It also suggests an inability to differentiate between the interests of one particular lobby group, and of society as a whole. It is of course a shame that such claims are repeated in a WIPO-branded report.


Follow the discussion on WIPO’s webcasting service, from 11:30-16:30 Geneva time, for more!

A Narrow Basis for a Decision with Wide Implications

South Africa’s Copyright Amendment Bill represents an important opportunity to bring the country’s laws into the 21st century, and apply international best practice in support of access to education, research and culture. Indeed, the country has been a strong and leading voice in Africa and across the developing world, at the World Intellectual Property Organisation, in support of better rules for libraries and their users, in order to help bridge the development gap.

There clearly has been controversy around this legislation, including efforts to engage foreign governments to call for a halt to the work. This has only underlined the need for the President of South Africa to stand above the noise and take account of the views of all sides in carrying out his duties.

Surprisingly, however, it appears that in the letter signed by the President and addressed to Parliament, returning the legislation for consideration of a number of questions of constitutionality, this may not have been the case. Indeed, it is rather a submission prepared by Steven Budlender and Ingrid Cloete, on behalf of members of the Copyright Coalition of South Africa – an active and vocal player on one side of the debate – which appears to have provided the structure, the content, and in some cases the wording of the letter.

On such an important issue, it is therefore unfortunate that the letter appears to be so narrowly based, with little evidence of having taken account of the opinions of all Senior Counsels, or the whole range of recommendations from stakeholders. Here, we look more closely at the similarities.

Concerning the allegation of incorrect tagging, the President’s letter repeats the arguments made by Budlender and Cloete, not only giving the exact same article references in its claims that the bill concerns trade and culture, and raising the same suggestion that the referral to the House of Traditional Leaders represents a further proof of the cultural nature of the legislation. The only substantive difference on this point is the reference to the Performers’ Protection Bill in the President’s letter, which can be explained by the exclusive focus in the Budlender and Cloete letter on the Copyright Amendment Bill.

Concerning the allegation of retrospective and arbitrary deprivations of property, the President’s letter summarises the case of Budlender and Cloete. The latter claim both that the scope of the provisions for compensation of creators who have been mistreated in the past is excessive, and suggest that the lack of a time-limit in the primary legislation for the operation of the provisions creates uncertainty. The President’s letter adds in short arguments concerning the issues surrounding works with multiple authors, or where copyright owners are non-profit organisations.

Concerning the allegations around fair use, the President’s letter broadly copy-pastes sentences from the Budlender and Cloete submission (paras 47-49) with only the most minor changes.

Concerning the delegation of legislative power to the Minister, the President’s Letter simply summarises Budlender and Cloete’s arguments, including the focus on the treatment of past agreements, the supposed lack of a due process for making regulation, and the specific reference to the role of the National Council of the Provinces.

Concerning copyright exceptions. The President’s letter lists the exact same sections and paragraphs as highlighted in Budlender and Cloete’s submission, including for example the highly questionable assertion that it may be impermissible to extend the quotation right to artistic works in Article 12b(1)(a)(i) – something that is in fact mandatory under the Berne Convention.

The only area where the President’s letter indeed departs from the Budlender and Cloete submission is in its inclusion of arguments concerning incompatibility with international law. These paragraphs are also out of character with the rest of the letter, providing long descriptions of the international legal instruments mentioned, but only the vaguest indication of what concerns may be.


In sum, the letter signed by the President appears to represent a summary of the Budlender-Cloete submission on almost all points, and occasionally a direct reproduction of specific sentences. There is little evidence of the President having applied his own mind to the issues or having proposed new reasons for the alleged unconstitutionality of the bills. The only divergences concern inclusion of reference to the Performers’ Protection bill (a topic not covered in the Budlender-Cloete submission), specific additional issues relating to the retroactive effect of laws, and vaguely worded concerns around international law.

We very much hope that the Parliament will, as it has done in the past, continue to show a more balanced and independent approach, focused on promoting the wellbeing of South Africans and the sustainable development of South Africa.

Report on status of Copyright Amendment Bill by Denise Nicholson

Over the past few years, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has been engaged in the reform of copyright laws in South Africa. Indeed, IFLA has submitted on many occasions comments and proposals on draft amendments.

This reform contains ambitious provisions which could have an extremely positive impact on libraries and heritage institutions, enabling the latter to benefit from legal provisions similar to the fair use provision as in the United States. It will also provide a positive example for neighbouring countries.

There is strong opposition, however, from other groups, notably collective management bodies, and from the academic publishing sector, even though.   

Despite the reforms being approved by Parliament, they have yet to be signed by the President, who faces both loud opposition internally, and, more recently, a threat from the US Trade Representative to try and remove South Africa’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade privileges with the United States.

As part of the week on Fair Use and Fair Dealing, we therefore welcome an update from Denise R. Nicholson, Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.



by Denise Nicholson, BA HDip Libr (UNISA); LLM (WITS) Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


In terms of Section 79 of the Constitution, President Ramaphosa must either sign the Bill within a reasonable period, or, and only if there are constitutionality issues, he must return it to the National Assembly to address those concerns.  The Bill has been on President Ramaphosa’s desk for 10 months (far beyond a ‘reasonable period’).

There has been a lot of support for the Bill internationally, regionally and locally.  However, there has also been strong opposition to the Bill mainly from rights-holders, collecting societies, musicians, some authors and creators (under the umbrella of the Copyright Coalition of South Africa) and international publishing and entertainment conglomerates and collection management organisations.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a lobby group for 5 large entertainment corporations in America, petitioned the US Government last year to review Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) agreements like AGOA and others with South Africa. They claimed that the exceptions in the Bill are too broad and that American rights-holders would be prejudiced if the Bill is passed. They want the US Trade Representative (USTR) to withdraw the preferential trade benefits that SA currently enjoys.  Apparently, R35 billion in South African exports to the USA are at stake if such a review goes ahead. Ironically, the SA Bill has adopted fair use provisions from the US copyright law, and other provisions enjoyed by other developed countries.  It is also premature for such a review to be considered as the Bill has not been enacted, so there is no possible evidence that American rights-holders’ interests are at stake.  The law would need to be in place for a while before any evidence could be collected in this regard.

In response to the IIPA petition, the US Trade Representative’s Office called for public submissions on this matter and held public hearings on 31 January 2020.  Forty-two submissions were lodged with the USTR. Thirty-two submissions called on the USTR to withdraw its review on trade agreements and the majority supported the Bill, whereas ten submissions opposed the Bill and supported a review of trade agreements.  Stakeholders can still make further submissions until late February 2020.  The Minister of Trade and Industry has met with officials in the US to discuss this matter.   It is not certain whether the USTR will take action in this regard. Asked if she believed South Africa would change the two laws (Copyright Amendment Bill and Performers’ Protection Bill) to meet US concerns, the new US Ambassador to SA, Lana Marks (SA-born) said the laws “must be within every aspect of the Constitution of South Africa”.  The Daily Maverick reports that Marks is confident that South Africa is not going to lose either its GSP or its AGOA access, directly or indirectly.  “It’s not going to happen,” she says, firmly.

Various international and local organisations have written to the President asking him to sign the Bill as a matter of urgency.  BlindSA has written a strong letter to him pointing out he has a constitutional duty to act on the Bill, and that if he does not act by the anniversary of the passing of the Bill by Parliament (i.e. 28 March), then BlindSA will consider taking him to court on this matter.

We hope that the President will act on the Bill soon.

See IFLA’s contribution to the US Trade Representative hearing.

Canadian Flu? The Doctor will See You Now

Canadian Flu ImageDebates around fair use and fair dealing are often fierce. For some, they mark a step away from old certainties and bring new and unwanted risks. For others, they are a means of reducing the rigidity of strict, code-based legal systems that risk harming libraries’ ability to serve their users.

In the middle of this abstract debate, the case of Canada’s 2012 copyright reforms is frequently cited as a case study. In debates in Australia and South Africa, for example, there are references to ‘Canadian Flu’ – the idea that extending fair dealing to education has been disastrous. Of course it is worth noting that it was arguably a series of decisions by the Canadian Supreme Court that effected the change, and that the government merely confirmed this state of affairs.

Nonetheless, given that this is being presented as evidence in debates around the world, it’s worth a fuller exploration of the symptoms. What is actually going on, and what diagnosis can we make?


Doctor, Doctor! The Symptoms

The most obvious event in the last few years has been the significant fall in the revenues collected by Access Copyright, Canada’s collecting society for reprographic (photocopying) rights. This has, logically, led to a fall in the revenues paid out to authors and publishers through this particular channel.

It is also true that a number of companies have gone out of business, or international companies have reduced their Canadian operations. Nelson, a major Canadian publishing company, declared a form of bankruptcy, and Oxford University Press closed its division providing materials for schools.

At the same time, a proper diagnosis is not possible without looking at everything that is going on. A crucial point is the growth in sales of electronic content, and that these materials appear to be replacing the sorts of course-packs that formed a key part of Access Copyright’s revenues. In the university sector, library spending on publisher content has grown systematically since 2012. The share of digital vs physical has reversed between 2002/3 and 2015/6.

This has impacted the textbook market (including the market for taking copies of textbooks), alongside falling numbers of young people, greater use of individual books, and textbooks themselves lasting longer. Licences offered for whole eBooks are often indeed cheaper than licences for individual chapters.

Meanwhile, Canadian education is doing well, coming close to the top of the table in the OECD’s PISA study, while its publishing industry as a whole is growing at twice the speed of the United States. As for the educational sector, it is the cost of books compared to budgets that is cited as a reason for not using more Canadian content.


On the Couch: a Diagnosis

While the core observations – the reduced revenues of Access Copyright and the closure of some companies – are obviously true, some of the surrounding arguments are more dubious.

The idea that the reform has put companies out of business is undermined by the fact that Oxford University Press’s Annual Report for 2013-14, which notes the closure of its schools division, places the blame on a longer-term decline in the market that is cited as a reason (falls of 50%). Meanwhile, the company celebrates its continued investment in Higher Education and English language programmes. Nelson’s demise seems to be a delayed consequence of taking on too much debt in the years before the financial crisis.

The notion that there have been 600 million pages being copied without payment seems to be based on highly questionable assumptions, with many of the supposed copies actually having been paid for, and the 2005-06 baseline unlikely to be relevant. And as has been highlighted in submissions to the Canadian parliament, the impact of falling revenues from Access Copyright has affected revenues by as little as 1%.

Overall, if the patient is the publishing industry as a whole, it appears to be healthy, although of course there can be claims that it would be healthier still otherwise. Indeed, figures for 2014-16 for example show Canadian-owned publishers increasing sales while foreign-owned ones saw a fall.

But arguably, the most important patient is not the publishing industry, but Canadian education as a whole. Quality publishing does play an important role in this, and certainly schools and universities would be poorer without it. At the same time, it is vital to take account of the interests of students and educators, who have reported that the reforms have allowed them to teach – and learn – much more simply.



As highlighted at the beginning, the move to fair dealing for education in Canada, both through the actions of the Canadian Supreme Court and the government, has arguably had a very concentrated impact on one player – Access Copyright. This has had knock-on effects on publishers who, nonetheless, seem in many cases to have benefited from growing revenues from other sources.

Moreover, once a wider perspective is taken, and all symptoms and trends are taken into account – in particular the impact on learning – the Canadian patient is arguably in good health.

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/