The first day closed with Dr Kenneth Crews waiting to be grilled by delegates and observers. He was given the opportunity this morning, but the highlights today were the side events and the ripples from some late-night messages to delegates.
The second day of the 39th Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) started with a side event by the Authors Alliance on Supporting Authors in a Digital Age and focused on reversion rights. Rebecca Giblin presented the results of a research project she had conducted into author contracts held by the Australian Society of Authors from 1960-2014. The Authors Guild in the US is extremely critical of the Authors Alliance agenda and we discovered that the European Writers Council is as well as the side event ended in heated discussion about which organisation best represents authors and their interests.
The IPA delegation then met with the Asia Pacific Group to discuss how publishers might help with the important work of preservation of old and rare books, explaining that publishers have worked with libraries in this space for years.
Member State delegates then drifted back into the main chamber to grill Dr Kenny Crews on his typologies. Bubbling away in the background were the discussions on how to move the Exceptions and Limitations agenda item forward after the Regional Seminars and International Conference brought the Action Plans adopted last year to a close. Far from a linear process of choosing the best next step, it felt more like three-dimensional chess being played out under the cover of the usual diplomatic niceties.
IPA held our own side event on the issue of Glocalising Digital Education: Challenges and Opportunities, featuring an excellent line-up of international speakers from around the world: Fei Chen Lee (Times Publishing, Singapore), Phil Page (retired teacher, author and publisher, Australia), Kiarie Kamau (East African Educational Publishing, Kenya), Jessica Sänger (Börsenverein des Deutches Buchhandels, Germany) and Flàvia Alves Bravin (Somos Educação, Brazil).
Phil Page, opened the session with his experience as a teacher, author and publisher. You can find an edited extract below:
Teachers as creators is one of the hallmarks of quality Australian digital resource publication and is one of which we are justifiably very proud. In the eight years the Australian Association for Teaching of English (AATE) has been involved with digital resources we have engaged well over a hundred practising teachers, educational and cultural specialists and academics to write, review or manage our work. It’s well worth noting that AATE is not the only publisher to harness the expertise of practising educational specialists and teachers for its educational publications – it’s a relatively common occurrence in Australia; although we would obviously claim that we do it best .
Indeed, AATE’s volunteer commissioning editor is a full-time class room teacher in a Western Australian school, and our latest major publication (digital and hard copy) has been written by a full-time teacher and a full-time assistant principal in separate, large Tasmanian schools.
Working with teacher creators, AATE – a small publisher by any standards - has been involved in or responsible for the publication of well over 150 sets and compendiums of digital resources and texts, and is currently engaged in the production of some 25 on-going projects – some major, some minor. Additionally, we have plans to further expand our digital production to include simple, accessible and cheap, classroom-ready materials for purchase and download by teachers and/or schools.
In a world flooded by often mediocre, if not dubious digital content across all media platforms: film, television, radio, news sites, blogs and music to name but some, the educational world too is awash with content volume rather than content quality – and like the truth, quality is very often the first casualty. In such a world, there is a pressing need for high quality digital educational material as well as traditional textual resources designed and matched to the context for which they have been produced.
Fei Chen, Kiarie and Flavia then regaled the gathered observers and delegates with a detailed look at how educational publishers work, how important adapting content to local markets is, how much communication between publishers and teachers goes into creating successful learning resources, the vital contribution of editors, illustrators, designers, tech experts and others, and the crucial collaboration between publishers and government that ensures that content matches the syllabus. They all spoke of how they have been working with multimedia and digital resources for a number of years but how different markets still require very different content. Jessica Sänger, Chair of the IPA’s Copyright Committee, spoke about the recently adopted exception for illustration for teaching in the EU’s Copyright Directive underlining the very specific focus of the exception and how it builds on the Digital Single Market that constitutes the EU.
The side event highlighted how digital improves affordability and distribution, and how it provides new ways for teachers and pupils to interact with educational resources. However, it also showed how piracy is a whole new problem in a digital world and how it is also now necessary to development new infrastructure to ensure digital resources can be used effectively in the classroom, and how nowadays resources must be constantly monitored and updated rather than every two to three years, as in the past. Finally, the impact on publishers goes beyond working with illustrators and authors to include film producers, programmers and more.
A question came from the floor during the side event: given the importance of locally adapted content and the need for government approvals of texts in many cases, would there really be an impact on educational publishers if there were an international treaty for exceptions and limitations. The response was clear, the best educational resources are locally adapted, give teachers choice and are the product of intense collaboration between publishers, teachers and government— an international exception that encourages non-adapted works to be brought into the classroom would mean lower quality works for teachers and pupils. A lose-lose situation.
The IPA’s work on educational publishing can be found on our site here. Our video explaining the vital role of educational publishers is below.
The day’s discussions in the chamber closed with presentations of the Regional Seminars in Singapore, Nairobi and Santo Domingo with the delegates retreating to informals (see our jargon buster) to finalise the conclusions on the International Conference and more importantly how to move discussions on exceptions and limitations forward. As we go to press, those conversations continue. We’ll see tomorrow what ripples those conversations will cause.