In our capacity of permanent observers of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), we are attending the 38th session of the Committee, which is taking place in Geneva from 1 to 5 April 2019.
The following is the general statement made today by Teresa Nobre on Limitations and Exceptions (Agenda Items 7 and 8):
I’m speaking on behalf of COMMUNIA, an international association that works to protect and strengthen the public domain and users’ rights.
We believe that there is a minimum set of access and use rights that should be defined by public rules, since they are justified by public interests. If copyright laws do not grant to the education and research communities, the cultural heritage institutions, and the persons with disabilities the same level of protection that is granted to rightsholders, and defer to private agreements the regulation of all uses of copyrighted materials, they perpetuate an unbalanced power structure and let rightsholders weaken or undermine what should be a public policy decision.
Private agreements are important in any market, but they should coexist with – and not replace – exceptions. Agreements are not appropriate to harmonize the legal framework for uses of copyrighted works, because the terms and conditions of licenses vary widely, and they are not available for every material in every country. There are countless copyrighted works in existence and the large majority of creators is not interested in licensing their works (only a small class of professional creators is offering their works for licensing). Thus, it is impossible to offer meaningful solutions to users through private agreements only.
In order to have a minimum set of rules that are applied uniformly by every Member State and have a cross-border effect we need an international law.
The ongoing reform in the European Union should be enough for this forum to understand that agreeing on minimum standards is possible, while still taking into account local specificities.
As we mentioned before, 2019 will be a busy year for user rights’ advocates at SCCR, and the right moment to push forward the discussions towards an international instrument on exceptions and limitation.
In addition to the two bi-annual meetings, the SCCR will host three regional seminars on limitations and exceptions in Asia-Pacific (registration is now open), Africa and Latin-America, and an international conference on exceptions and limitations (Geneva, 17-18 October).