Séverine Dusollier’s Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain at WIPO CDIP/8

The Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain by Séverine Dusollier (document CDIP/7/INF/2) has been discussed at WIPO CDIP/8 (Committee on Development and Intellectual Property). WIPO secretariat will prepare a document to provide more information on three of the recommendations contained in the study (namely recommendations 1.c., 1.f. and 2.a.) proposing to lead further research on the legitimacy of tools such as CC0 dedicating works to the public domain, the development of tools identifying public domain works, being databases of calculators and cooperation with cultural heritage institutions and UNESCO to enhance the availability of public domain works.

1.c. The voluntary relinquishment of copyright in works and dedication to the public domain should be recognised as a legitimate exercise of authorship and copyright exclusivity, to the extent permitted by national laws (possibly excluding any abandonment of moral rights) and upon the condition of a formally expressed, informed and free consent of the author. Further research could certainly be carried out on that point.

1.f. International endeavours should be devoted to developing technical or informational tools to identify the contents of the public domain, particularly as far as the duration of copyright is concerned. Such tools can be data collections on works, databases of public domain works, or public domain calculators. International cross-operation and cross-referencing of such tools is of particular importance.

2.a. The availability of the public domain should be enhanced, notably through cooperation with cultural heritage institutions and UNESCO (through its work on the preservation of intangible cultural heritage).

Before reaching that consensus, delegations discussed whether they wanted to further discuss or implement the recommendations and which ones they would like to explore. As part of this discussion, Melanie Dulong de Rosnay made the following statement on behalf of the Civil Society Coalition and COMMUNIA:

“I would like to present a statement on behalf of the Civil Society Coalition and COMMUNIA international association on the digital public domain and take the opportunity to thank the secretariat for all the efforts led since years to lead a study on the public domain. As this is the first time I take the floor, I would like to also thank the chair for this opportunity and briefly introduce our work. COMMUNIA has been funded by the European Commission between 2007 and 2011 and recently incorporated as an international organization under Belgian law.

The most emblematic output of COMMUNIA is the Public Domain Manifesto, which was translated in over twenty languages and signed by several thousands individuals and a few hundreds associations worldwide. The author of the study under discussion was a member of the thematic network and we welcome very warmly all of its recommendations. A vibrant, positively defined public domain is of vital importance for the international copyright framework and for the Development Agenda as set up by the Recommendations in particular from Cluster B recommendations 16 and 20.

[Cluster B Norm-setting, flexibilities, public policy and public domain Recommendations 16. Consider the preservation of the public domain within WIPO’s normative processes and deepen the analysis of the implications and benefits of a rich and accessible public domain & Recommendation 20. To promote norm-setting activities related to IP that support a robust public domain in WIPO’s Member States, including the possibility of preparing guidelines which could assist interested Member States in identifying subject matters that have fallen into the public domain within their respective jurisdictions]

Specifying the boundaries of the Public Domain is of paramount importance for business and cultural sector organisations alike, as:

  • (a) an increasing number of businesses is making use of Public Domain material to offer value added services (e.g. applications based on public domain content) and
  • (b) cultural sector organisations and memory institutions are holding vast amounts of Public Domain material which they cannot use without a clear understanding of the Public Domain boundaries.

For these reasons, we believe CDIP is the right forum to discuss this study and all of its recommendations.

It is time to make full use role of the informational works owned by all of us, be that literature, music, the output of scientific research, educational material or public sector information. Identifying and preserving works which can legally be reused freely is beneficial for the society as a whole, for cultural expression, for innovation by economic actors based on public data, for access to knowledge and especially education through Open Educational Resources, a movement which is strongly supported by UNESCO, and for development by all countries.”

Opened Book - Joannes Bemme, 1785 - 1818
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