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SCCR/39: COMMUNIA Statement on Limitations and Exceptions

In our capacity of permanent observers of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), we are attending the 39th session of the Committee, which is taking place in Geneva from 21 to 25 October 2019.

The following is the opening statement made on behalf of COMMUNIA on limitations and exceptions (agenda items 5 and 6):

I’m speaking on behalf of COMMUNIA, an association that works to protect the public domain and the users’ rights.

We would like to start by thanking WIPO for advancing the work on the Action Plans and for convening the regional and international events. Although we would have appreciated if these events would have provided space for more practitioners to share their concerns, in order to ensure a better representation of all stakeholders, we are pleased to see that there was wide agreement as to the need to have exceptions to support public interest activities.

We understand that some Member States believe these exceptions shall be designed solely at a national level. At the events that took place this year there was not always a chance for the participants to engage in discussions of international solutions, and that might be misunderstood as a lack of will to work towards such solutions. However, we have heard today many countries saying they do want WIPO to act.

Let’s not forget that individual solutions cannot provide an adequate framework for uses that take place online and across borders. Without an international solution, educators, researchers and other practitioners will continue facing obstacles when working together in various countries at the same time, which is something they do on a daily basis.

Finally, we would like to highlight that we agree with the understanding that exceptions and licensing-solutions should coexist. We believe that a balanced copyright system is able to protect fundamental needs through exceptions, while still leaving plenty of space to rightholders to license uses that go beyond those needs. One does not, and should not, replace the other. Rightholders and civil society members seem to agree on that basic principle, despite their divergences. What we need now is to have Member States reassuring these groups that it is possible to protect both interests, without nullifying exceptions through licenses and without exempting uses that would have an unjustified market impact.

This being said, we urge this committee to continue discussions towards a binding international solution.

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