In our capacity of permanent observers of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), we are attending the 40th session of the Committee, which is taking place in a hybrid format of in-person and online participation from 16 to 20 November 2020.
The following is the statement made on behalf of Communia on limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities (Agenda Item 7):
This Committee has been discussing the issue of copyright exceptions for almost 15 years. During this time, a number of studies were conducted and we learned that many countries fail to guarantee the right to use protected content for education, research and other legitimate purposes.
Still, reaching a common ground for exceptions was not a priority for all. Progress was limited even though we were seeing a clear trend towards cross-border uses, taking place online.
Now, that state of affairs could be acceptable before the massive disruption to society caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But over the last six months those cross-border online uses have become the new normal.
All over the world, institutions are opting for remote formats or hybrid models of in-person and online access and use of content. And we may never go back to the way things were, namely for education, where we now have teachers and students working from home, often located in different Member States, and having to deal with a fragmented treatment of exceptions across those locations.
We understand that Northern countries prefer to negotiate bilaterally with developing countries. In our opinion, this perpetuates an unbalanced power relationship between the Global North and the Global South.
This forum can provide more transparency and legitimacy to these discussions. We thus urge you to not leave your mandate unfulfilled.
In the Report on Regional Seminars and International Conference on Limitations and Exceptions, prepared by the Secretariat, we can find something for everyone’s taste. Now it’s up to this Committee to set priorities for its work.
We urge the Committee to respond to the pandemic with a declaration or resolution to assert the flexibilities that exist; then work on model laws and on a binding solution for cross-border uses; and eventually discuss a minimum set of mandatory exceptions.