The WIPO SCCR meets twice a year. But what is WIPO? Who is Darren Tang? IPA will be posting daily blogs from the marathon five-day meeting. Acronyms will be flying.
On 25 March 2022, the Publishers Association in the UK published its latest Diversity survey of the publishing workforce. Michiel Kolman, Chair of the IPA's Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee spoke to Dan Conway, the incoming CEO of the Publishers Association in the UK about their longstanding work in this area.
The 36th session of World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (check our jargon buster here) kicked off today in Geneva. As well as the 191 Members States who can attend, there are about 60 NGOs registered and participating (including the IPA, STM, IFRRO and others from the Creative Sector Organisations group that IPA coordinates).
The uncensored book fair of Iranian independent publishers
Every year, early in May, Iranian publishers have the busiest time of the year with the Tehran International Book Fair being held for a period of ten days in the capital. All publishers - except those who have been banned due to previous violations - gather from across the country.
At this year’s Leipzig Book Fair, IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee chairman, Kristenn Einarsson, joined Hungarian publisher and IPA 2018 Prix Voltaire nominee, Tamas Miklos, as well as German publisher Christoph Links to discuss Europe and Freedom of Expression. Freedom to Publish was a visible issue at the Congress with the Börsenverein promoting its “Für das Wort und die Freiheit” campaign and putting a giant #FreeGuiMinhai hashtag on the central staircase.
While the conversation didn’t stop at the borders of Europe it was interesting to hear that some freedom to publish challenges are closer to home than many Europeans think.
The final day of the Congress started with a detailed look at 'Book Markets in India'. Emma House, Deputy CEO of the PA UK, spoke about the size and importance of each publishing sector and the variety of languages (India has 22 official languages but Hindi and English make up 90% of publications). André Breedt of Nielsen noted, educational publishing dominates the Indian market. Local publisher Himanshu Gupta (S Chand) claimed that Indian publishers are embracing digital as an enabler for hybrid learning. He was supported by Vikas Gupta of Wiley, who called on publishers to become platforms for smart digital content.
I had the honour to chair a session on the second day of the Congress entitled : " Creating readers of the future". My panelists came from diverse backgrounds and represented almost half of the global publishing industry. All of them experts in the children's book market, I was curious to know whether children in Brazil had better access to books than children in China or India or vice versa.
Why should publishers care? A group of outstanding speakers tried to answer this question during the session I had the honour to chair on “Social Responsibility of Publishers”.
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.
Just 4 days to go until the beginning of this year’s International Publishers Congress, back in New Delhi after a 26-year break.
The full programme is now online and is packed with interesting discussions on all aspects of the publishing industry.
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.
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.
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.
SCCR 35 opened on a windy but bright Monday morning at the WIPO offices in Geneva, Switzerland. In his introductory speech, WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry addressed the importance of multilateralism in a time when politicians’ perspectives are increasingly shifting from the international arena to a predominantly national orientation.
By Jessica Saenger*, edited by Ben Steward. The ‘homocleansing’ of the Russian edition of Victoria Schwab’s Shades of Magic series offers a topical hook on which to hang the publishers’ dilemma about duty to authors and their duty to stay in business.
This month the hit American author tweeted her outrage at learning that her Russian publisher had ‘redacted the entire queer plot w/out permission’. She added: ‘I was absolutely horrified. Wouldn’t have known if not for a Russian reader who read both editions. Publisher in total breach of contract.’
There are two strands to Schwab’s indignation: the redaction – or censorship – and the manner of that redaction. Quite apart from normal contractual requirements, simple courtesy would dictate that any author deserves fair warning of significant plot changes, whatever the reason. If this didn’t happen here, then the publisher may well have infringed the author's moral rights and be in breach of contract. That is for Rosman and Schwab to work out, although unquestionably the writer is entitled to be upset at discovering by chance that her work had been mangled.
That said, Schwab would do well to take a breath and consider where best to direct her wrath.
Explaining itself in the business daily, Rosman admitted it had censored a romantic scene between two characters in the second book of the Shades of Magic trilogy ‘so as not to violate the law banning the propaganda of homosexuality among minors’. In other words, to avoid criminal liability and having the book wrapped in plastic and given an 18 rating in Russia – thereby losing a large chunk of Schwab’s target readership – the publisher did what the law wants and altered the offending scene. It is Russia’s oppressive gay propaganda law that lies at the root of the problem, not the publishers who obey it.
By André Myburgh*. Ostensible reassurances about the benefits of the introduction of ‘fair use’ in South African copyright law (Why fears about ‘fair use’ copyright law are unfounded) need deeper scrutiny.
I recently had a chance to visit Dhaka to meet the IPA’s member there, the Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh (ACPAB).