WIPO Diary SCCR 39 (Day 1): Early Birds and Worms


While the publishing industry was gathered in Frankfurt last week for the most important international book fair in the world, the action was already starting at WIPO in Geneva with an International Conference on Exceptions and Limitations on Friday and Saturday 18-19 October.

As a result of that Conference the exceptions and limitations agenda items of the SCCR 39 are first up this week with discussion around the Broadcasting Treaty set for Wednesday and Thursday and other agenda items for Friday.

We’ll produce a more detailed report on the International Conference in due course but essentially the Conference wrapped up the three Regional Seminars held this year in Singapore, Nairobi and Santo Domingo (links to IPA reports) and saw the re-emergence of a discussion of the importance of local and regional initiatives to address national copyright laws, in the context of an agenda that had previously dwelled almost entirely on binding international legal treaties or instruments.

At the beginning of the day, IPA held our regular meeting with representatives of other Creative Sector Organisations to go over the results of the International Conference and look at the week ahead.

When the meeting proper got under way, the Member States were unanimous in their appreciation for the Regional Seminars and International Conference.

Following the usual Group and national statements, the gathered observers/NGOs delivered their statements. IPA through President Hugo Setzer said:

Exceptions and limitations to Copyright at the national level for the purpose of Institutions of Teaching, Education, Research, National and Public Libraries and National Cultural Heritage should be based on existing international norms which permit tailoring of exceptions based on national and regional contexts and which are consistent with international obligations.

Apart from publishers and other rightsholders originating and disseminating content locally, as well as offering direct and individual licensing solutions, there are also a great variety of licensing available through the network of collective management organisations such as RROs, which complement publishers’ offers.

Particularly, primary and secondary education require local and tailor-made content to respond to national curriculum needs, local languages and cultures. Educational publishing is a crucial part of our industry. In Africa, for example, educational publishing comprises an average of 80% of the local industry. For higher and further education, it is also imperative that authors and researchers from all regions of the world retain a local publishing sector that offers them publishing opportunities for content of national and international interest; and that thriving local publishing industry relies on a strong copyright framework. As was noted during the WIPO International Conference on Exceptions and Limitations, during which IPA was honoured to participate, when it comes to all sectors of education, one size does not fit all.

Thank you Mr Chairman

With introductory remarks concluded, the nitty gritty started with the presentation of Dr Kenneth Crews of his typology on archives.

IPA met with the two groups of Members States today: Group B (the group that includes the developed countries of USA, EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc) and GRULAC (Latin America and Caribbean countries). At both meetings, our delegation stressed the importance of publishers’ licensing solutions and investment policies in educational publishing, and their dependence on a strong and stable copyright regime.

The side event today was organised by the Minister of Commerce and Industry of the State of Qatar, opening an exhibition that will stay in the WIPO lobby for the rest of the week. The full list of side events is available here. IPA will hold our own side event tomorrow on Glocalising Digital Education. Look out for our blog tomorrow for more news on that.

During the comments from NGOs, Nina George, current President of the European Writers Council (EWC) said:

I am delighted to be allowed to make a comment as President of the European Writers’ Council, which represents 160,000 writers from the book sector from 41 writers unions in Europe. I have been a professional writer and novelist for 27 years, so you are all debating about my work and my future, my scope of free descision, while you try to find a fair and sustainable answer for the needs of libraries, the needs of society on diverse and free literature, as well as for fulfilling the mandate of education and culture – but most important are the answers for the sources, the authors, on which all these values depend.

Authors, Publishers, Booksellers, Libraries, Archives and Museums are all part of a sensitive ecosystem, and although we exist in different national frameworks, authors are also the global source and the heartbeat of this ecosystem.

The two bases for supporting authors: (1) be very, very cautious with further restrictions of authors’ rights, and (2) promote and protect sustainable systems of remuneration for every exploitation of our works. As we already see in several states, such support is not routine. For example, without any installed PLR-system for printed books, authors and publishers are in fact already paying for the libraries’ education and culture mandates. This is not the ideal we should be aiming for.

On behalf the European Writers’ Council, we recommend that the SCCR explore existing licensing solutions and best practices within national frameworks, which also already fulfill the needs of libraries and their users. And the same in the digital environment.

The European Writers’ Council supported the Marrakesh Treaty. The EWC does not recommend further exceptions and limitations in the form of a legally binding international approaches like a treaty, model law or soft law.

The proximity to Frankfurt has enabled IPA to encourage more publishers to come to SCCR but we’ll tell you more about our team later in the week.

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