WE ADVOCATE FOR GLOBAL COPYRIGHT RULES TO BENEFIT LIBRARIES
Awa Cissé, EIFL copyright librarian from Senegal, debates copyright with delegates at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.
Awa Cissé, EIFL copyright librarian from Senegal, debates copyright with delegates at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.

THE CHALLENGE

Copyright is meant to balance public access to knowledge with the rights of authors, publishers and creators. However, the laws that govern how digital information is used and shared have not kept pace. Now more than ever, we need a legal and regulatory copyright framework that is consistent across borders and recognizes the public interest role of libraries and archives in the global knowledge society.

For the most part, the protection of rightsholder’s rights is mandatory and global in nature, while users’ rights - copyright limitations and exceptions - for the most part are optional and are left to national discretion. As a result, global implementation of limitations and exceptions is weak. And while the international copyright system has evolved to protect works in the digital environment, the exceptions largely remain stuck in the pre-digital print world.

To get the international copyright system back on track for libraries, EIFL is seeking an international treaty on copyright limitations and exceptions to enable the effective functioning of libraries in the global digital environment.

A treaty would establish basic international standards for core library activities and services, protecting communities who rely heavily on libraries to access knowledge and information. It would ensure equal treatment of print and digital resources, protect the ability to acquire and lend digital works, safeguard our cultural and scientific heritage for future generations, and unlock orphan works (where the author or copyright holder cannot be identified or found) for socially beneficial purposes. For people everywhere.

The reality is that the system is broken. None of our theories of copyright work when it comes to developing countries.

- Ruth Okediji, William L. Prosser Professor of Law, University of Minnesota

FACTS

1

The agenda item on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives has been significantly advanced at WIPO’s copyright committee, the main body that shapes international copyright law.

 

2

A study commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (2014) shows that more than one-third of member states surveyed do not have an exception allowing libraries to make copies of works for their users, and only 10% have a provision for inter-library document supply.