7 October 2016
A Better Deal for Libraries and their Users: IFLA Addresses World Intellectual Property Meeting
IFLA took the floor three times during the General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva, calling on ministers, heads of intellectual property offices and diplomats to agree on copyright reforms that will allow libraries to do the best by their users.
The General Assembly is the high point of the WIPO year, offering an opportunity to celebrate successes, overcome challenges, and set the general direction of the organisation. IFLA attended alongside EIFL, and a number of other groups supporting access to knowledge.
Among the successes, the historic first meeting of the Marrakesh Assembly saw the 22 countries which have already ratified the Treaty of Marrakesh to celebrate the steps they have taken, and to call on others to join them. In the course of the meeting, Botswana and Sri Lanka did indeed do so, as has Liberia subsequently, taking the total to 25.
Many IFLA representatives played a major role in getting the Treaty agreed, and many more members have long been working on the ground to achieve its objectives. IFLA’s statement recognised this work, and called on Member States to ensure they provide maximum access to knowledge when putting Marrakesh to work.
IFLA also joined many members in calling for progress on work on libraries, archives and museums at WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).
While there remains disagreement about the form of a final deal, all recognised the value of the work libraries do. With the European Union – so far among the reluctant to make progress – itself proposing mandatory cross-border exceptions to copyright, there are signs that even Brussels accepts the value of such measures in a globalised, digital age.
IFLA and EIFL also took the opportunity to meet with a dozen member states, in order to talk about the work of libraries in their countries, and how to support them through change at WIPO.
We look forward to the 33rd meeting of the SCCR in November, where we will address a number of specific issues where inadequate laws hold libraries, archives and museums back. IFLA will continue to work with governments to get a better deal for librarians.