Vrouw bevrijdt een vogel uit een kooi by Jan Luyken, 1704

SCCR/45: COMMUNIA Statement on Limitations and Exceptions

In our capacity as accredited observers of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), we are attending the 45th session of the Committee, which is currently taking place in Geneva (April 15-19, 2024).

We made the following statement regarding limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities (Agenda Item 6):

Dear Delegates,

Many of us here today will remind you that knowledge institutions face many challenges when it comes to fulfilling their public interest missions in the digital environment. These hurdles range from lack of harmonisation of copyright exceptions to legal uncertainty and fear of litigation.

In the words of Marcin, a researcher from Poland researching ancient Chinese literature and contemporary culture, and I quote “a considerable part of the work is thinking about what I can do and what I can’t do, what is legal, what is illegal”.

These obstacles are particularly problematic in a cross-border environment, where a fragmented legal framework negatively affects these activities, forcing for instance researchers to limit or abandon collaborative projects, or to select research partners according to their national copyright laws. The 2nd edition of our publication “Nobody puts research in a cage”, where we interview researchers engaged in joint and cross-border projects, shows this very clearly.

If you want case studies to understand what are the kinds of problems that you should be fixing right now, this is a good start. From researchers stuck in cages in Sweden, to researchers flying across continents to be able to research Chinese movies from the TVs of their hotel rooms, it’s unsettling to read about the obstacles they face to conduct their research projects. But it’s also fascinating to see the solutions that they propose to tackle these problems.

Sure enough, they all want more copyright exceptions, more legislation granting them rights to use copyrighted works, particularly in an international environment. And this Committee knows that there are various binding and non-binding ways of getting close to that place. With all due respect, toolkits published on an obscure corner of the WIPO website, where there are about 6000 entries for the word “toolkits”, are just not it.

We understand why this would be a priority for the Secretariat, but if this Committee is truly committed to implement their work program on L&Es, the way forward are the working groups foreseen there. And again, with all due respect, we are appalled to see that, one year after the approval of the work program, you have not been able to agree on the scope and modalities of such working groups. We thus urge you to not leave this meeting without an implementation agreement in place.

Etching of a printer's press by Abraham Bosse.
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