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WIPO Considers Changes to Broadcasting Copyrights
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Posted On July 15, 2014
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Developing nations initially expressed concerns that the U.S. delegation’s proposal was too weak and abstract, but it turned out to be a good starting point for substantive discussion. Delegates from developing nations on several continents pointed out that these exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives do not exist in their countries, making it imperative that they be included in an international treaty, particularly for countries not as “self sufficient in knowledge products” as the U.S.

Mexico’s delegation questioned why museums are not explicitly included in these exceptions and limitations for broadcasting copyrights as well, and the U.S. delegation responded that The Section 108 Study Group Report indicated that museums might be included in libraries and archives exceptions and limitations under certain circumstances. The U.S. and other jurisdictions are considering the matter. (Canada treats museums, libraries, and archives in the same manner with regard to copyright exemption.)

The Chile delegation wanted the treaty to cover “reproduction, orphan works and technological protection measures.” First, the treaty should include a reference to “international commitments and obligations” for “access to essential knowledge as developed by UNESCO. … Second … it’s possible to guarantee human rights such as freedom of expression and the right to education. Third, the role of preservation is to safeguard our cultural heritage ... today, especially in developing countries, especially in those like ours, that have a complex geography. … Fourth, we agree that only a system that guarantees protection to authors and access would lead to the greatest social benefit.”

The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) suggested that the U.S. delegation should elaborate on what the “copyright 3-step test” means in the context of exemptions and “exceptions and limitations in a digital environment.” TACD noted that it also would be “helpful to include language that addressed the need to control anti-competitive practice, including excessive pricing, and to note that the first sale doctrine, sometimes referred to as the exhaustion of rights, [is] an important exception to exclusive rights, and very relevant to libraries.”

The final day’s discussion included preservation (Should it include unpublished works?), reproduction, and mandated or encouraged legal deposits in designated repositories such as national libraries or archives. Delegates would benefit from education concerning the pricing of digital works and economic pressures on libraries. The economic interests of publishers are understood, and the protection of authors’ rights are in place, but someone at the next meeting should persuade the members that considerations need to be carved out for institutions such as libraries that serve the public good by disseminating information. Language on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives should be ready for recommendation at the WIPO General Assembly’s meeting in 2015.

Other Significant Events During the SCCR Session

On June 30, India became the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The treaty, signed by 79 WIPO member countries so far, requires that signatories adopt national laws that facilitate the use of published works by the visually impaired, making them accessible to the blind (in formats such as Braille) and allowing the works’ exchange across borders by organizations working with the visually impaired. The treaty becomes active once ratified by 20 countries.

A WIPO-sponsored side event during the session was the launch of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), a multistakeholder initiative that intends to provide technical assistance to developing and least-developed countries and enable the production and distribution of books in accessible formats (including Braille, audio, and large print) for those who are “blind, have low vision or are otherwise print disabled.” This inclusive publishing project aims to promote technologies and industry standards that support “born accessible” publishing. Elsevier was the first signatory of the ABC’s Charter for Accessible Publishing.

Throughout the week, interested parties held events designed to convey their organizations’ positions, including the following:

  • IFLA’s luncheon: Keeping Copyright Relevant in the Digital Environment: Libraries, Archives and Licences (Slides from the session are available on IFLA’s blog.)
  • The International Publishers Association’s (IPA) panel: “Growing Knowledge: Publishers, Librarians & New Access Models”
  • G3ict’s (Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies) event: Copyrights and Third Party Captioning: Challenges and Solutions
  • CISAC’s (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) event: Advantages of Resale Rights
  • International Authors Forum’s event: Limitations and Exceptions: Why International Copyright Instrument Must Respect the Three-Step-Test

Use the Twitter hashtag #SCCR28 to review the week’s discussions. 


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Barbie E. Keiser is an information resources management consultant located in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

Email Barbie E. Keiser

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