WIPO Diary Day 2 (SCCR 34) - 'Informals' in the chamber of secrets

Today’s talks unfolded almost entirely behind closed doors during so-called ‘informals’, a setting usually employed to unblock a particularly tough impasse, when consensus on the floor of the plenary has proved impossible.

The informals, which take place in a separate chamber on the WIPO campus, are strictly for country delegations only. NGOs are not invited, but we can follow the audio feed from the plenary chamber provided we don’t report publicly what is said.

This approach enables the delegates to be freer and franker when wrangling over semantic minutiae that, ultimately, will form the substance of the text.

It was late afternoon before the committee returned to the plenary chamber to report on their talks. Chairman Daren Tang immediately poured cold water on the idea that a diplomatic conference on the broadcasting treaty was around the corner (see previous blog post). However, he did suggest the 'chair's text' be upgraded to a 'committee text'. This is a baby step closer to collective acceptance of the working document under discussion, which until now had only reflected the previous chair's personal attempt to provide a fair text.

Other than that, I have nothing much to write about what happened today ... so let’s look at tomorrow, when the IPA, with FEP and Bertlesmann, will stage a side-event with a difference.

For publishers, one of the most contentious issues on the SCCR agenda is copyright limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions. We’ve seen the disastrous consequences of overbroad exceptions in education, but nowhere more starkly than in Canada. Some of Canada’s educational publishers have been brought to their knees since the government adopted the Copyright Modernization Act, which gave educators free rein with no need to pay for copying.

Nonetheless, there remains a dogged push from some quarters for more and broader exceptions in more than one country. So our simple message is that without the reassurance of effective copyright frameworks, educational publishers won’t be able to invest and innovate, and their frontline contribution to educational performance will fall away.

Curiously, almost as though they knew, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its 2017 Special 301 Report today, which highlights serious concerns about the Canada question on page 62, stating:

The United States also remains deeply troubled by the broad interpretation of an ambiguous education-related exception to copyright that has significantly damaged the market for educational publishers and authors. The United States urges Canada to reform this aspect of its copyright regime, during the Copyright Modernization Act review this year, to ensure that creators are fully compensated for their works.

This report’s findings are very welcome for the IPA and its Canadian members, who have been lobbying on this issue since before the Act came into force.

Tomorrow, our four publishers from Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates will present their homegrown innovations to the delegates and show them that their contribution today is about a whole lot more than textbooks.

They are:

Brazil – Cayube Dias Galas, Foreign Languages Editorial Manager at FTD Editora, who will present ‘Faça’, a series of resources for Brazilian primary students and teachers that is changing the way the school community perceives and relates to educational materials.

Mexico – Rodrigo Cosio Guerra, Communications & Marketing Manager at UNOi, will explain how his company offers an educational transformation model for schools in Mexico and wider Latin America.

South Africa – Brian Wafawarowa, Executive Director Learning Services at Pearson, who is a member of the IPA Executive Committee, will present ‘Test & Improve’, a South African system that monitors pupils’ performance and makes remedial recommendations where needed. He will also showcase ‘Eneza’, a Kenyan-built interactive platform that tracks learning while enabling peer interaction and personalized tutorial guidance.

United Arab Emirates – Malak Obeid, Manager and Editor, Horouf, will introduce ‘Horouf’ and ‘Qartoos’, apps that complement Horouf’s Arabic language learning materials through personalized content and gamification.

Check back tomorrow for a report.

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Wednesday, 21 August 2019

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