Copyright reform in Nepal

New beginnings for copyright reform to benefit libraries and persons with print disabilities in Nepal

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Group photo of seminar participants in the grounds of Hotel Shanker
Over 80 participants attend the first seminar in Nepal dedicated to library copyright issues, on 3-4 September 2015 in Kathmandu.

In 2015, EIFL initiated work on copyright issues for the benefit of libraries, and persons with print disabilities together with our partner, the Nepal Library and Information Consortium (NeLIC).

There were two main outcomes. A ‘Right to Read’ campaign was formed by civil society stakeholders to encourage ratification by Nepal of the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities (2013). The library community was invited to dialogue with policy makers regarding copyright law and library activities and services.

Background

On persons with print disabilities, the Nepal Association of the Blind estimates that of the c. 40,000 school and college-age children who are blind or visually impaired, only 10% receive education. Those who do attend education are often excluded from learning because of lack of audio and Braille books. As a result, future employment prospects are very low.

Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by Nepal and the introduction of exceptions in domestic law to allow for the creation and distribution of accessible format copies provides an opportunity to significantly improve the situation. By making it legal to create accessible formats, funds can be raised and projects initiated to increase the amount of accessible format materials available.

In addition, people in Nepal could benefit from the treaty’s cross-border provisions. Since many people in Nepal speak Hindi, accessible materials could be immediately imported from India (the first country to ratify the treaty in 2013), once the treaty enters into force. For English speakers, materials from English-speaking countries, such as Australia and Singapore (that ratified in 2015) may likewise be imported.

On libraries, the 2002 Nepal Copyright Act does not enable libraries to maximize the use of digital technologies. It also falls short of the copyright exceptions for libraries in other countries.

While the law has provisions for libraries, in many cases, the provisions are quite limited and do not properly address new technologies or services that libraries in Nepal may wish to provide today. For example, support for education and preservation falls short, provisions on lending are unclear, and new issues such as orphan works, web archiving, and text and data mining are not catered for.

Timeline

September 2015 – December 2017

Main activities and achievements

September 2015:

  • On 3-4 September 2015, EIFL co-organized the first seminar in Nepal dedicated to library copyright issues, together with the Nepal Library and Information Consortium (NeLIC). The seminar focused on three important areas: the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities, the development of open educational resources (OERs), and long-term preservation of knowledge. Participants had the opportunity to engage in discussion with international copyright experts.
     
  • On 3 September 2015, the first public lecture in Nepal on copyright issues took place. Prof. Kenneth D. Crews, a keynote speaker at the seminar, gave a public lecture on International Copyright and Domestic Exceptions: WIPO, Treaties, and the Politics of Libraries', hosted by the Social Science Baha. An audio recording is available here.
     
  • During the seminar, participants from the disability and library communities decided to form a 'Right to Read' campaign to encourage ratification of the Treaty by the government of Nepal, that committed to a process for ratification.
     
  • On library activities and services, policy makers committed to involve libraries in future copyright law reform. In addition, a new government task force to prepare a policy on library development provides a forum for discussion on copyright and open access.

November 2015:

  • EIFL supported translation from English into Nepali of key Marrakesh documents: the text of the Marrakesh Treaty, the EIFL Guide to the Marrakesh Treaty, and the World Blind Union (WBU) Marrakesh Treaty FAQs.

December 2015:

  • A report published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Blind Union – Asia Pacific (WBUAP) includes a legal review for the ratification of the treaty in Nepal, and recognizes the contribution of EIFL in advancing efforts towards ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities.

January 2016:

  • NeLIC participated in a an awareness raising seminar for the Marrakesh Treaty supported by WIPO that was held in Kathmandu on 27-29 January 2016. As input for the seminar, EIFL and NeLIC submitted written recommendations to the Nepal Copyright Registrar's Office for implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty into national law.
     
  • EIFL supported the printing of Braille versions by the Nepal Association of the Blind of key Marrakesh documents translated into Nepali.

November 2016:

  • Met the Registrar of Copyright and Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation during WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR/33) to discuss implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty.

March 2017:

  • The Marrakesh Treaty: an EIFL Guide for Libraries published in Nepali.

Next steps

EIFL is following the process of ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in Nepal with the local library and disability community, and its implementation into national law. The treaty entered into force on 30th September 2016.

On library activities and services, we will prepare a commentary on the copyright law at the right time together with NeLIC, and will present proposals for future copyright law reform.