Friday at SCCR 38 was for “other matters” – copyright in the digital environment, resale right and theatre directors.
Friday at SCCR 38 was for “other matters” – copyright in the digital environment, resale right and theatre directors.
Following Wednesday’s jam-packed day of presentations and side-events, you could feel a drop in energy in the chamber today as a number of reports were presented.
Wednesday morning, before the start of the WIPO plenary session, IPA had two important meetings. Firstly, we were invited to take part in a regular briefing that the US delegation offers particular stakeholders at every SCCR. Secondly, IPA then met with the Asia-Pacific Group which includes Members States from a huge swathe of territory from the Middle East to islands in the Pacific. In a friendly meeting, we asked if there were reviews of copyright on the horizon among their members. We discussed the upcoming WIPO regional conferences (the first of which, will be at the end of April, in Singapore) as well as various other events and projects within their borders. These types of meetings are very important to ascertain current positions and plumb possible future shifts.
The second day of the 38th session of the WIPO SCCR, began with the regular meeting the IPA organizes on Tuesday morning for the representatives of the Creative Sector Organisations Group that we coordinate. On the 13th floor of the WIPO building with sweeping views up Lake Geneva towards Lausanne, we convened a meeting that included representatives of the music, film and collective management sectors as well as publishing. The purpose of the meeting is to brief those who had missed the first day’s action and to plan what we will do for the rest of the week.
Yesterday was the first day of the 38th session of the WIPO SCCR. If you need to re-familiarise yourself with what has happened previously and some of the WIPO lingo here are links to previous diaries, our jargon buster and the official SCCR page.
Today, we begin the week-long, 38thsession of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). For those of you new to these conferences, we direct you to our summary of where we ended up last time (in November 2018).
Following yesterday’s exceptions and limitations marathon, today was a much shorter affair as the SCCR raced through the agenda. The morning session kicked off with NGOs asked to comment on the progress (or, in the eyes of many civil society organisations, the absence thereof) around exceptions for archives.
Today was the first day of the 32nd edition of the International Publishers Congress, and this year it is hosted in New Delhi, India.
After yesterday's intense high-level discussions about the future of publishing, copyright and freedom to publish, the second day began with a series of panels about the nitty gritty of publishing and finished with an emotional roller coaster and two standing ovations.
A full 26 years after the previous IPA Congress in New Delhi, we're back with a great programme. This will be the first of our daily blogs over the next 3 days.
The day started with a traditional candle lighting ceremony, before the Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan, arrived to launch the day's proceedings. IPA President Michiel Kolman gave a keynote address where he called on the publishing industry to stop being defensive and to shout about the industry's many successes, sentiments that were echoed by FIP President, NK Mehra.
Apart from conducting meetings all week with delegates of Members States, the IPA team has also been busy meeting with the Genevan Ambassadors of key countries. Sometimes we do so to thank them for their support and at other times we do so to quiz them about their positions when they undermine their own local publishers and creators. It’s always good to let our allies know that we appreciate them, and it’s equally important to let the other side know that we are listening to what they say and that, if we disagree, we are always ready and willing to explain our own positions.
Meanwhile, back at WIPO, the morning’s session kicked off with a discussion about a possible new agenda item for future SCCR meetings: resale right for visual artists, otherwise known as ‘droit de suite’. Resale right already exists in a number of jurisdictions and in places like Australia it works quite well. If resale right were to make its way onto the main SCCR agenda it would be a welcome change since it is a topic that expands creators’ rights in contrast to the insistent discussions around exceptions and limitations to copyright law which we have had to endure for some years. The discussion this morning revolved around a presentation by Professor Joelle Farchy on the report Economic Implications of the Resale Right, which she co-authored with Professor Kathryn Graddy and which concluded that artists were, unsurprisingly, overwhelmingly in favour of implementing resale right internationally. In the end, the Member States decided to continue to discuss this topic but keep it under the ‘other matters’ rubric rather than the main agenda.
Also discussed today was a Scoping Study on the Impact of the Digital Environment on Copyright Legislation Adopted between 2006 and 2016 authored by Dr Guilda Rostama, as well as Professor Jane Ginsburg’s summary of a brainstorming exercise between copyright academics conducted at WIPO in April around the topic of the application of copyright in the digital environment. These developments surely point to a growing interest and imperative at SCCR to focus on the effects of the digital economy on the workings of copyright, although some Member States pointed out that the topic as proposed by the GRULAC Group (Latin American and Caribbean countries) goes beyond the scope of copyright protection.
A number of other topics were wrapped up in the last few hours of the day and the Chair’s Summary (usually requiring a painful and protracted negotiation) was accepted relatively easily. We were liberated from SCCR 35 just after 19:00 and we walked out of WIPO into a dark and cold Geneva night, tired but satisfied that some progress had been made on the Broadcasting Treaty but no damage had been done on the exceptions and limitations part of the agenda.
As a codicil, the rhetoric of the meeting swerved when some NGOs began talking about the economic success of nations that had supposedly more ‘flexible’ copyright regimes. Many of us from the Creative Sector Organisations heard in this rhetoric echoes of tech giants pushing for US-style ‘Fair Use’ — arguments that the IPA has consistently countered. At the end of the SCCR, it was good to receive a rebuttal, by Dr George Ford of the Phoenix Center in Washington DC, of one of the studies presented at the meeting which was attempting to indicate a link between ‘open exceptions’ and innovation.
On a grey and gloomy Genevan winter’s day, the IPA team plus our Creative Sector colleagues trooped into early morning meetings first with the Africa Group of WIPO Members States and then with GRULAC (the Latin American and Caribbean countries group). We explained our consistent position on the exceptions and limitations debate: namely that the current copyright framework already provides adequate flexibility and balance to allow for well-crafted national laws, and therefore no international instrument is required.
We understand that the Member States asking for broader exceptions are doing so because of the perceived gap between the resources available in developing countries and those available in developed countries, but, we argued, governments in developing countries should note the exceptions and limitations regimes that already operate every well in comparable countries and begin to modify them for their own local fit. Furthermore, we advocate that all governments work as closely as possible with educational publishers, treating us as key stakeholders in the creation of well-educated people, rather than threatening publishers’ business models by weakening copyright.
Back at the WIPO Conference Room, Daniel Seng from Singapore updated the SCCR on his gargantuan study on copyright limitations and exceptions for educational activities. In brief, like the Crews study yesterday, Seng’s work shows that there is already a plethora of national exceptions and limitations that work at a national level, obviating the need for a new international WIPO treaty in the education sector.
Glenn Rollans, current president of the IPA member the Association of Canadian Publishers, was present at the SCCR meeting representing the Canadian Copyright Institute and made a telling intervention about the language of ‘balance’ that is often used in copyright debates:
‘Thank you for the opportunity to make this written intervention. I represent the Canadian Copyright Institute, which has a mandate to inform Canadians on copyright issues.
With our unusually large contingent at this SCCR, the IPA team was able to attend a number of simultaneous meetings today, even before the SCCR morning session began. Some of us were at the meeting convened by WIPO to come up with a set of non-binding principles relating to the functioning of Collective Management Organisations; while others attended a high-level briefing by the USA delegation; and still others were at a joint meeting of the so-called Group B (developed) countries and the Central European and Baltic States (CEBS) group. The IPA was joined by other Creative Sector Organisations for the latter. These meetings are essential opportunities for dialogue but this morning the Members States were mostly playing it safe and giving very little away.
When the SCCR proper finally got under way at 10:00am, we immediately started discussing exceptions and limitations for libraries, archives and education, including in particular draft Action Plans that had been prepared by the WIPO Secretariat. A good summary of all the plans is provided by the website IP Watch here. The IPA intervened on the draft Action Plan through our representative at the SCCR, Ted Shapiro, who is a Partner and Head of the Brussels Office of the law firm Wiggin. Ted said:
‘We would like to reiterate our view that the current international legal framework provides ample flexibility for Member States to enact exceptions and limitations consistent with their own legal traditions. It goes without saying that exceptions and limitations, which are legal defences to what are otherwise infringements of copyright, have a profound impact on all rightholders as well as other stakeholders. The Berne Convention/TRIPS/WCT three-step test provides the means for measuring this impact – which is why it is applied internationally and nationally both by legislatures and courts.
We believe that the draft action plan, while some details may need further clarification, provides a useful basis for a number of activities that could support exchange of info and capacity building that can inform countries — including, in particular, developing nations — in their efforts to ensure balanced national copyright laws consistent with the international framework. The IPA stands ready to participate in conferences and provide both legal and commercial experts to assist.
Peace love and copyright.’
The second day of SCCR 35 began with the now traditional ‘informal’ meeting of the Creative Sector Organisations (CSO) group, which the IPA coordinates with Benoît Müller (former IPA Secretary General and now consultant to the International Video Federation and Motion Picture Association). This meeting took place on the 13th floor of the ‘old’ WIPO building with sweeping views of the Jura Mountains on one side, and of Lake Geneva and the Alps on the other.
In this inspirational setting, the CSO group discussed the important events of the opening day and planned for the rest of the week, including the meetings that had already been arranged with individual Members State delegations and major regional blocs. We also coordinated our involvement in the ‘side events’ organized for today and tomorrow during the SCCR’s lunch time breaks. But more on that later.
Straight after the CSO meeting, the IPA team split up with some of us attending the plenary session in the main Conference Room. This session featured reports on progress from yesterday’s ‘informals’ that focused on the Broadcasting Treaty, while others in the large IPA contingent (see yesterday’s blog post) undertook a series of meetings off-site.
Members States continued their own informals in the morning until the first lunchtime side event of the week. This consisted of a panel organized by the Brazilian delegation and largely included copyleft advocates making the case for broader exceptions and limitations to copyright law. The one publisher on the panel, FEP President Henrique Mota brilliantly argued that authors and publishers relied on a strong and stable copyright regime to create and disseminate the precious content that others were wanting easier access to. Mota was lucid and passionate, pointing out that publishers assiduously paid for all their content as a matter of course, and that all we are asking for is that users accord us the same courtesy.
After the excitement of the FEP President’s intervention, Member States continued their informals on the Broadcasting Treaty away from the WIPO Conference Room before a final plenary session in the early evening.
This week I was in San José, Costa Rica, for a WIPO workshop on the Marrakesh Treaty (…to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities), and the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), on 13-15 June.
Delegates at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva spent this week discussing (for the 34th time) how to provide adequate intellectual property protection for the ‘traditional knowledge’ that is typically part of the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples.