Earlier this month I visited New Delhi for the first time, to discuss with our Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) colleagues the preparations for the 32nd IPA Congress, on 10-14 February, 2018.
Whether we like it or not, self-censorship is the new normal in most countries in Asia, from the Middle East to the Far East. But how did this happen?
This week I was in San José, Costa Rica, for a WIPO workshop on the Marrakesh Treaty (…to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities), and the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), on 13-15 June.
Delegates at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva spent this week discussing (for the 34th time) how to provide adequate intellectual property protection for the ‘traditional knowledge’ that is typically part of the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples.
Fridays at the SCCR are always unpredictable, and Friday 5 May was no exception. Yet whereas the usual drill is the final plenary dragging on late into the evening to enable time for a satisfactory closure, today was a little more mysterious.
For starters, there was more backroom huddling than open plenary debate at times when the sessions were theoretically meant to be live. The chamber stood eerily quiet for much of the day.
This was largely driven by the chairman, Daren Tang, who was anxious that his first SCCR should conclude with a substantive recommendation to the budget-setting WIPO General Assemblies, in October.
In his own words, the goal was to produce something more meaningful than the usual safe recommendation that the SCCR should merely keep strumming away at the incumbent agenda.
However, having resumed the final plenary at around 4pm, Tang then quickly adjourned it again to allow the national groupings to hold decisive in camera talks, and draw a confident line under the week’s work.
It was after 7pm when the Chair’s Summary finally made its way into the hands of the clutch of never-say-die participants who were still in the room (our own Secretary General José Borghino among them), but its contents were someway short of the chair’s hopes.
Basically, every agenda item will continue to be discussed at the next SCCR, in November, when a raft of further studies and documents will also play a part in the discussions.
1. A draft WIPO action plan on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives so the committee ‘may consider and discuss its adoption for their future work’;
2. The next iteration of the enormous study by Professor Seng on limitations and exceptions in educational activities, and the completed version of Professor Blake Reid’s scoping study on Ls and Es for persons with disabilities other than print disabilities;
3. A draft WIPO action plan on limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions, and for persons with disabilities other than print disabilities so the committee ‘may consider and discuss its adoption for their future work’;
4. A scoping study on the impact of digital developments on the evolution of national legal frameworks over the last 10 years, led by Guilda Rostama and Professor Pierre Sirinelli;
5. A complete study on the implications of the resale right, led by Professor Kathryn Graddy.
So there’s plenty for the delegates to chew over before and during SCCR 35. Though, truth be told, each SCCR sitting somehow seems to push the possibility of a concrete outcome ever further out of reach.
But that’s the nature of multilateral negotiations on this epic scale – it’s like herding cats. No one ever said it would be easy to carve out consensus from the divergent viewpoints of 189 countries over a subject as complex as copyright law.
The fact that WIPO and its member states are making the attempt anyway attests to the fundamental importance of copyright to the world’s social, cultural and economic ecosystems, and human development itself.
Today the SCCR talks ticked onwards to the ‘and persons of other disabilities’ part of the agenda item ‘limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities’ (referring to non-visual impairments).
Professor Blake Reid, of the University of Colorado, an IP and disability law maven, presented the skeleton of a new scoping study that will map the potential needs of people with ‘other disabilities’ and to determine the extent to which copyright law is affecting them.
The lunchtime lobbying event was staged by a group of organizations, including the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (the PIJIP, which made an appearance in yesterday’s post) whose stated common goal is ‘fixing copyright for modern education’.
Among the speakers was Delia Browne, ‘education lead’ for Creative Commons Australia and Director of Australia’s National Copyright Unit (Schools and TAFEs). One of her roles is to consult on copyright law reviews in Australia, which means she’s never idle.
Delia began by noting that Australia is often held up as a benchmark in providing educational access, due to a system of statutory licensing which has been around since the 1980s and a whole series of exceptions.
However, she added that ‘one of the biggest problems’ in Australian copyright law is that ‘Part 5b’ covers ‘absolutely everything’, with insufficient exceptions for educational use.
Acknowledging the publishing industry’s concerns about expansion of exceptions, she said: ‘Some publishers do understand what our issues are about the bluntness of the statutory licence being applied to these types of uses,’ adding that what was needed was more dialogue between those pushing for copyright reform and the publishers. ‘We shouldn’t be at each other’s throats,’ she said.
Moderator Sean Flynn, from PIJIP, then asked her about the ‘horror story’ of Canada’s educational exceptions within its Copyright Modernisation Act, noting that her comments suggested she anticipated a similar movement in Australia.
Delia said the 2012 reforms were not the sole reason why Canadian educational publishers were ‘suffering from some disruption’, and to say that they were was ‘misleading’. Instead, she blamed increasing use of open access resources by Canadian schools and institutions, students’ increasing reliance on second-hand books, and the ‘huge transition from print to digital products’, as well as new media players like Apple and Google.
Among the audience members was independent Canadian educational publisher Glenn Rollans (Brush Education), who also happens to be vice-president of IPA member the Association of Canadian Publishers.
The side-event organizers didn’t invite questions from the floor, but afterwards Glenn told me his response would have been the following:
From a Canadian independent publisher’s perspective, today’s side session on fixing copyright for education underrepresented the potential problems with extending the education sector’s “free zone” for using copyright protected materials.
I heard during the session that broad exceptions for education don't interrupt the purchasing of educational resources, don't harm rightsholders, and are generally positive for the creative sector as well as for educators.
The Canadian experience, during the lead-up to our 2012 copyright act revision, was that schools and universities promised they would continue spending on copyright-protected resources as they always had, and wouldn’t take unfair advantage of a new education exception for fair dealing. Australia’s Delia Browne made more or less this same prediction for Australia if it makes similar changes in its copyright act.
But in Canada, hard on the heels of the new Act, school and college administrators circulated policies nation-wide advising teachers and instructors to go on copying what they had been copying under collective licenses, with the glad news that all of that copying was now free, including digital copying. They abandoned the collective licenses that used to provide some compensation to the people who created the resources, the resources educators still value enough to copy for their students.
It’s hard to make common sense of the suggestion that this doesn’t harm copyright holders by at least the value of the lost licensing revenue. Instead of acknowledging this, the education community in Canada continues to argue that there are several causes of rightsholders’ lost revenue, as if this means that no harm has been done. I heard the same theme in today’s session.
The new educational exception for fair dealing broke the marketplace in Canada. In a balanced system, compensated copying and distribution of partial works provides a good option to purchasing full resources. But free copying outcompetes purchasing. Even if the copying is limited to 10%, or one chapter, or one poem, or one image. As a small publisher, I can’t compete with free, and other independent publishers, authors, and artists are in the same predicament.
I believe fair dealing in Canada, as a concept and a practice, used to make good sense in Canada for purposes such as private study, criticism, and satire, but when the exception was extended to “education”, it crashed the system.
All rightsholders took a hit, but because of the crucial importance of licensing revenues in their livelihoods, Canadian independent authors, illustrators and publishers suffered more than bigger rightsholders. As a result, we are losing their distinctive contributions to education in Canada.
Fixing copyright for education shouldn’t mean breaking copyright for dedicated, effective contributors to education. With that in mind, I look forward to fixing copyright in Canada, and not breaking it elsewhere.
Committee Chair Daren Tang brought to bear his endearing blend of levitas and gravitas this morning as he started the day’s negotiations on ‘limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives’. As he did so, Tang reminded the delegates of the burden of responsibility they bear, something that’s becoming his signature patter.
He said their decisions ‘can make a positive impact on the lives of the millions of citizens out there who are in different countries struggling with different issues’, and that copyright ‘impacts the lives of every person’.
‘I hope that we will be able to move towards something that is constructive, something that is useful not just from the government perspective, but from the human perspective ... the connection of what we do here with the lives of those people will become a lot more apparent than it is now, will become a lot more positive than it is right now, and I believe that's the spirit in which we should work,’ he said.
The inference – intended or otherwise – is that the SCCR has a duty to put the greater good before self-interest and other less noble considerations.
Despite this, most of the delegates then stated again that an international instrument is the wrong approach, while pockets of the Global South want it. By the same token, content owners don’t see the point, while librarians and archivists vehemently do. It’s hard to see a way through this impasse, and indeed the Chair’s greatest task now will be to map such a route.
As I mentioned yesterday, the IPA, the FEP and Bertelsmann staged a lunchtime event where educational publishers from four countries showed off a range of innovative teaching resources they have developed. Here’s the press release for details.
It's no exaggeration to say the event was a runaway success. Admittedly, there was a brief moment of panic when news reached us that the delegation groupings had hastily arranged coordination meetings at 1300 – our start time – but with some deft juggling we delayed enough to allow them – our core target audience – to arrive. And arrive they did, along with a number of the WIPO top brass and the SCCR chairman himself.
Later on, when opening the afternoon plenary, Mr Tang said: ‘During the lunch break I had a chance to be with the International Publishers Association, and we saw presentations by four very dynamic educational publishers from the world. Seeing their work and hearing what they are doing, they are really impacting the lives of their communities, and I think that it would be remiss of us to not take this opportunity as a group and as a committee to see how we can work towards supporting not just them but the many, many others in your country who are trying to do similar things.’
I swear we didn’t ask him to say this.
Tang then moved things on to ‘limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities’, which is where the different civil society groups usually bare their teeth.
One no-nonsense intervention came from Mike Holderness, who chairs the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Authors’ Rights Expert Group. Mike made a very sharp statement back in November, which I reported in full here.
He said today: ‘The International Federation of Journalists deeply regrets that educational and research institutions are underfunded. No one is proposing, however, as far as I'm aware, that schools and colleges should get free electricity or free phone calls. Here, most clearly of all, the solution is collective licensing through collective management organizations that are democratically controlled by the rights holders they represent.’
The International Authors Forum then chimed in with its own common-sense contribution:
‘There are individual authors whose rights are involved in all countries. Those rights must be given primary consideration; they need fair remuneration if they are to continue the work everybody wants access to. Without payment, they will not be able to continue to create, the diversity and quality of content will suffer and the quantity of works produced will be limited. We believe that there are already international copyright provisions in place that work well to enable the development of licensing frameworks, which enable access, including cross-border access provision through educational institutions and ensure fair payment. Authors believe that these existing provisions contain sufficient flexibility for countries represented at WIPO to continue to work towards national solutions, such as licensing frameworks, which can be developed according to local needs.’
Representing the ‘other side’, however, the representative of the American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (committed to spreading US-style fair use) said:
‘Chair, you and I are both from countries that have educational exceptions that are open in the sense they're open to the use of any kind of work protected by copyright. They're open for any education-related activity or purpose, and they're open to use by any user, not just restricted to, for instance, teachers or educational institutions, and these rights are subject to a fairness test that makes sure the authors and the rights holders are protected within these kind of uses.’
So far, so reasonable. But then he added: ‘This openness in the exceptions environment is part of what enables innovations, the kind of innovations that we heard at the meeting today about access to learning materials through new technologies and over the internet.’
Come again? The suggestion that it is copyright exceptions that are enabling educational publishers to innovate is, in a word, hogwash. Plainly, educational publishers can only make heavy investments in new technology and teaching resources thanks to effective copyright that incentivizes and rewards creators and provides enduring financial security.
Today’s talks unfolded almost entirely behind closed doors during so-called ‘informals’, a setting usually employed to unblock a particularly tough impasse, when consensus on the floor of the plenary has proved impossible.
The informals, which take place in a separate chamber on the WIPO campus, are strictly for country delegations only. NGOs are not invited, but we can follow the audio feed from the plenary chamber provided we don’t report publicly what is said.
This approach enables the delegates to be freer and franker when wrangling over semantic minutiae that, ultimately, will form the substance of the text.
It was late afternoon before the committee returned to the plenary chamber to report on their talks. Chairman Daren Tang immediately poured cold water on the idea that a diplomatic conference on the broadcasting treaty was around the corner (see previous blog post). However, he did suggest the 'chair's text' be upgraded to a 'committee text'. This is a baby step closer to collective acceptance of the working document under discussion, which until now had only reflected the previous chair's personal attempt to provide a fair text.
Other than that, I have nothing much to write about what happened today ... so let’s look at tomorrow, when the IPA, with FEP and Bertlesmann, will stage a side-event with a difference.
For publishers, one of the most contentious issues on the SCCR agenda is copyright limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions. We’ve seen the disastrous consequences of overbroad exceptions in education, but nowhere more starkly than in Canada. Some of Canada’s educational publishers have been brought to their knees since the government adopted the Copyright Modernization Act, which gave educators free rein with no need to pay for copying.
Nonetheless, there remains a dogged push from some quarters for more and broader exceptions in more than one country. So our simple message is that without the reassurance of effective copyright frameworks, educational publishers won’t be able to invest and innovate, and their frontline contribution to educational performance will fall away.
Curiously, almost as though they knew, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its 2017 Special 301 Report today, which highlights serious concerns about the Canada question on page 62, stating:
The United States also remains deeply troubled by the broad interpretation of an ambiguous education-related exception to copyright that has significantly damaged the market for educational publishers and authors. The United States urges Canada to reform this aspect of its copyright regime, during the Copyright Modernization Act review this year, to ensure that creators are fully compensated for their works.
This report’s findings are very welcome for the IPA and its Canadian members, who have been lobbying on this issue since before the Act came into force.
Tomorrow, our four publishers from Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates will present their homegrown innovations to the delegates and show them that their contribution today is about a whole lot more than textbooks.
Brazil – Cayube Dias Galas, Foreign Languages Editorial Manager at FTD Editora, who will present ‘Faça’, a series of resources for Brazilian primary students and teachers that is changing the way the school community perceives and relates to educational materials.
Mexico – Rodrigo Cosio Guerra, Communications & Marketing Manager at UNOi, will explain how his company offers an educational transformation model for schools in Mexico and wider Latin America.
South Africa – Brian Wafawarowa, Executive Director Learning Services at Pearson, who is a member of the IPA Executive Committee, will present ‘Test & Improve’, a South African system that monitors pupils’ performance and makes remedial recommendations where needed. He will also showcase ‘Eneza’, a Kenyan-built interactive platform that tracks learning while enabling peer interaction and personalized tutorial guidance.
United Arab Emirates – Malak Obeid, Manager and Editor, Horouf, will introduce ‘Horouf’ and ‘Qartoos’, apps that complement Horouf’s Arabic language learning materials through personalized content and gamification.
Check back tomorrow for a report.
SCCR 34 opened this rainy Geneva morning, if not with a bang, at least with the hope that proceedings could ‘swing’ under the leadership of the committee’s upbeat new chairman, onetime jazzman, Daren Tang.
After WIPO Director General Francis Gurry passed him the gavel, Tang, who is CEO of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, promised to do his best to yield results – particularly on the stickier agenda items.
Chief among these is the ‘protection of broadcasting organizations’, which has basically ping-ponged back and forth across the floor for 20 years, despite WIPO’s best efforts to drag it forwards.
Acknowledging the friction, Tang said: “The work has been challenging. Some of the items on the agenda as you know have been around for a long time and I will not deny that they challenge the spirit of openness, transparency and fairness. We hope we’ll be able to give this meeting and all the different agenda items in it the best possible airing, the best possible push.”
Tang also hoped that his perspectives and experience, coming from Singapore – “a bridge between East and West, North and South, developed and developing” – would help things along.
He could be right. WIPO watchers on all sides of the arena are quietly confident that SCCR 34 might actually deliver a long-awaited breakthrough in the form of consensus to advance to a 'diplomatic conference’. That’s where the delegations would pour all the details of the broadcasting text into the cement mixer and see a workable treaty trickle out.
If this happens, it would allow the SCCR to focus properly on the bona fide copyright issues at stake, without the extra complications that have arisen from wedding two so loosely associated issues on a single agenda.
This would be a welcome leap forward for the IPA and likeminded organizations, whose priority items will be tackled from Wednesday morning, namely limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, and limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities.
Although a relative newcomer to the SCCR game, Daren Tang is up to speed on its history and the sensibilities of the teams on the field. Flanked by two equally new vice chairs, Karol Kościński, director of Poland’s copyright office, and Senegalese IP heavyweight Aziz Dieng, Tang said that while they embodied three very different profiles, they shared a common belief in the importance of the SCCR’s mission.
He added: “Copyright is unique in that it has an impact on the lives of every one of our citizens, every one of our individuals, and on many, many different stakeholders across different sectors. Whenever we open up or launch a video on YouTube or whenever we access music or whenever we consume or create content, copyright is there, so its impact on all of us is crucial. And so therefore the work on this committee in affecting the lives of everyone out there is of extreme importance.”
In a sense, he was preaching to the choir. There’s no question of the potential impact of this committee’s work on the world, and all present are well aware of it. The inability to make headway has been a source of great frustration to many, who now have their hopes pinned on Mr Tang. His remarks indicate that while he feels the weight of expectation, his shoulders are broad enough to bear it. As example is when he told the committee that success will, ultimately, depend on their ability to work together.
“I would like to think the work of this committee is a bit like a jazz band,” he said. “We all have different times when we will do our little thing, you know, we will have a little improvisation, but in jazz that makes it even more beautiful and even more energetic and it makes it even more dynamic... let's make this swing.”
The question is, can this bandleader draw some crowd-pleasing harmony from the discord?
WHAT DO Alanis Morissette, Margaret Atwood, Bryan Adams, Marie Claire Blais, Michael Bublé, Sharon Pollock, Gordon Lightfoot and William Deverell have in common? Yes, they are all Canadian (eh?)
And so ends another SCCR marathon: hundreds of delegates locked in some 40 hours of discussion over five days; only God knows how many mini-sandwiches, cups of undrinkable coffee and MBs of data have been consumed.
The IPA put in a strong showing this time. For the first time ever the IPA delegation included its President (elect) and the Chair of the copyright committee. Add to that the Secretary General, our razor-sharp legal counsel and, well, me, and we were a distinctly visible presence in the crowd.
Having been wrapped in the copyright bubble since Monday and talked of little else between the hours of 9am and 7pm, I get a sense that there has been a definite shift in humour.
Frustration and possibly a vague embarrassment over the impasse has peaked and is spurring the chamber to action on the broadcasters treaty; the inside track is that a diplomatic conference may be announced as early as SCCR 34, from 1-5 May 2017.
Here's Carlo Scollo Lavizzari to tell you how he thinks it went:
This morning Melbourne Law School Intellectual Property Professor Sam Ricketson was beamed into the chamber to give a lengthy webcast presentation on the Artists’ Resale Right which, while not immediately linked to the IPA’s policy agenda, is nonetheless an important area of interest for creators.
Some countries, particularly from Africa Group, are pushing hard for rollout of the Resale Right. Prof. Ricketson said a growing number of countries have adopted the right into their law over the past 10 to 15 years, particularly among Berne Convention member countries.
In the afternoon session, the IPA made a written submission to the SCCR on educational exceptions and limitations, having been denied the chance to speak to the chamber. The reason for this was that the room was so preoccupied by the other agenda items, including the resale right, that it left no time for the NGOs to intervene on this matter.
Here's the full submission:
The IPA is the global association of book publishers, including those in the trade, educational and academic sectors. Our 64 member associations from 59 countries represent thousands of individual publishing houses, which together serve more than 5.5 billion people across the globe.
Educational publishing is a critical strategic resource for all countries. To be truly successful and effective, educational publishing must be genuinely relevant to the place where its outputs will be used.
In a healthy educational publishing market, this relevance requirement benefits local publishers and local authors. And such support for local content is crucial because, for economies in transition or in developing countries, local educational publishers actually form the bedrock of the national publishing industry — enabling and underpinning all the other publishing sectors in those countries.
The IPA has long stressed the importance of the ‘local’ in education publishing. We have often stated that the best curricula are pointedly local, as are learning environments and cultural contexts. Great education embraces local content and context.
Unfortunately, overbroad educational exceptions jeopardize this virtuous circle.
If a government neglects the economic framework around local publishing, then healthy domestic educational publishing markets are undermined.
‘Neglect’ can take the form of overbroad exceptions, which lead to unintended consequences. Take, for example, the 2012 copyright amendments in Canada, which have had ongoing and long-term deleterious effects on not only the local publishing industry and Canadian authors, but also, we would argue, on the availability of high-quality educational resources for teachers and students alike.
The impact of these Canadian amendments on publishers has been immediate and severe, with a number of publishing houses scaling back their operations and at least one global player, Oxford University Press, packing up and leaving the country, citing the copyright amendments as a prime reason.
But these amendments have also increasingly forced Canadian authors to publish for US or other foreign markets. Publications produced for foreign markets will, however, always be a poor substitute for the ideal, which, as we’ve argued, would be locally sourced and locally produced. Such foreign-sourced publications will be detrimental to the general coherence and objectives of a sound national educational policy.
In education, so much depends on the quality of the resources being utilized by teachers in the classroom for the benefit of the particular mix of students before them. In Canada, it is not just the provenance of the materials that has been compromised by the 2012 amendments, but also their quality.
High-quality educational publishing requires intensive, long-term investment. Publishers are now telling us that they are pulling out of the Canadian educational market precisely because the medium- to long-term prospects are so grim. This will mean fewer local authors, writing less local content, for fewer local publishers to produce fewer high-quality Canadian resources. This will not be good for Canadian students.
A consequence of the local nature of education publishing is that one-size-fits-all exceptions are unnecessary and inappropriate. As Professor Seng’s work demonstrates, Member States have largely succeeded in formulating their own state-specific education exceptions suited to their unique local conditions. An inflexible international instrument that does not respect local conditions will harm, not help, efforts to achieve the worthy goals of educational exceptions.
The IPA respectfully requests that SCCR take into account the need for balance and respect for local interests and not foreclose local markets and licensing solutions. Otherwise exceptions are bound to have a negative effect, especially where multiple copying is concerned.
Well, that's pretty much it from the WIPO Diary for SCCR33, although I'll post the chairman's summary when it becomes available, likely next week. Have a great weekend!
Professor Daniel Seng returned to the chamber briefly this morning to field more questions and comments about his mega-study. A night’s sleep had clearly worked wonders on everyone, and the questions came thick and fast from all corners of the room.
Some delegates wanted clarifications; others suggested ways to improve the report. And it seemed that my prayers in Wednesday’s post had been answered when the Brazilian delegate spoke. In previous SCCRs Brazil has made a series of utterances indicating a distinctly ‘copyleft’ bent. But perhaps the wind of change blowing through Brazilian politics has arrived on this side of the Atlantic, as the delegate said: ‘In Brazil, this report will provide us with much food for thought in our ongoing internal debates about copyright law reform.’
Once Prof. Seng had departed (probably for a well-earned rest), the discussion moved onto exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. One of the first interventions of the session was by the Nigerian spokeswoman on behalf of the African Group.
She said: ‘We believe it is simply time to determine a functional path forward, for the committee's work in this area. We strongly believe that the absence of a clear result-oriented timeframe for the committee — for the committee's discussion of the limitations and exceptions agenda — is more harmful than helpful to the work programme of the SCCR and the overall objective of the exercise.’
IPA’s legal counsel Carlo Scollo Lavizzari, a Swiss polyglot who’s well versed in diplo-speak, suggested that this statement could be read in two ways. Either the African Group wants to strike exceptions and limitations from the agenda altogether, since it is acting as a brake, or, more likely, they want to impose a strict timeframe in order to force a more urgent resolution.
A little later, André Myburgh, a lawyer on Carlo’s team, intervened on behalf of STM publishers to draw the committee’s attention to the liability of librarians and orphan works, and the benefits of licensing as a solution.
He said: ‘STM’s position on copyright-protected uses of orphan works ... (is) that users who have not been able to identify, locate and contact the copyright owner to obtain permission, despite a diligent search, must not be penalised if the rightsholder comes forward later. An STM signatory statement offers exactly this safe harbour in respect of the uses of works considered to be orphan works which are then discovered to be works in which the signatories – comprising the largest STM publishers and many more - own the copyright. STM continues to advocate this principle, both in public fora and in the publishing industry.
Licensing has in our experience supported library document delivery services, resulting in the liability of libraries not even coming into the question. With the main interest of publishers being in the broadest possible dissemination of the works they publish, STM believes that there is much scope for licensing services in solving this problem.’
However, the Statement of the Day Award goes to Mike Holderness, who chairs the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Authors’ Rights Expert Group. I make no apology for reproducing it here wholesale since the extremely topical ideas it encapsulates and expresses so eloquently deserve all the exposure they can get. Enjoy:
‘I have a confession. I am a journalist – an author. And now – more clearly than at any recent time – the world needs ethical journalism. Despite the failings of newspapers in some countries recently, the work of individual, independent journalists remains the best bulwark against arbitrary power and the gaining of that power through a mixture of falsehood and rumour amplified by the echo chambers of electronic gossip.
I write and edit reports on science and technology in London. My ability to make a living – like that of every independent, professional author – depends on the strength of authors’ rights laws, the future of which we are once more here to discuss. I want to stress the need for professional authorship. The promise held out by some that the internet era would usher in a golden era of democracy has proved hollow. A vast exchange of prejudices and lies through anti-social media is not, I suggest, true or useful “free expression”.
Citizens of all our countries need to have the chance to be informed through the work of people who commit themselves to building the skills and experience to evaluate claims and unmask falsehood. Those people – those journalists in particular – need to have the economic security that enables them to stand up to power (including that of newspaper and broadcasting owners when necessary).
That publishing has been hurt badly by the internet revolution is well-known – not least because publishers have some influence and capability to tell us so. It has been hurt in particular by internet corporations that eke out a fortune selling advertising alongside other people’s creative work. How to get those corporations to pay for their use of this, their prime raw material, is a challenge that is causing head-scratching in the European Union, as it must here, soon.
I therefore appeal to this Committee not to be swayed by the promise held out by some that opening up creative works to use without remuneration offers some kind of golden era of free information. The risk is that free information ends up being worth every penny.
Yes, let us have international norms that give libraries, archives and educational institutions the legal certainty they need to play their utterly essential part in ensuring an informed citizenry.
And let us insist that, throughout the world, those vital institutions are adequately funded and that the use they make of authors’ work is compensated. Because as libraries move online, and as libraries form partnerships with those internet corporations, some of their activities increasingly resemble publishing and these parts of their activities affect the incomes of authors like me.
Let us insist that that remuneration be delivered to authors through collecting societies. Let this Committee commit to encouraging the formation of transparent, democratic collecting societies everywhere.
Useful information depends on authors having adequate primary income. The proposed new EU directive securing more transparency in the way authors’ work are exploited by their publishers, producers and broadcasters is a step in the right direction. WIPO should by inspired by it.
Let this Committee re-dedicate itself to enabling “innovation and creativity for the benefit of all” through defending the rights and incomes of individual authors. After all, without the work of skilled authors and performers libraries have nothing to share; schools nothing to teach; and this Committee nothing to discuss. This Committee needs to re-focus on supporting creativity. Please do.’
Very well said, Mr Holderness.
The IPA team joined a US delegation breakfast briefing this morning, high up on the 13th floor. A superstitious person may have hesitated to attend, but this was a golden chance of valuable face time with some key SCCR influencers. At the table were stakeholders from all sides of the copyright debate: policy makers, consumer groups, librarians, lawyers and NGOs.
The morning began with a strategy huddle among the IPA-coordinated Creative Sector Organizations (CSO) group − a coalition of audio-visual, music and publishing industry representatives with a common goal: to protect creators, creations and creativity from attempts to weaken copyright.
As the world of international diplomacy hastily manoeuvres ahead of the looming Trump Era, delegates congregated at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva this morning for the 33rd meeting of its Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR 33).
Oh Google! You’ve done it again! You have taken a good idea—one that could help creativity–and once again blotted your copybook by antagonizing the creative community you profess to serve. Yet again you have turned a blind eye to the rights of writers and creators to serve your own ends, all in the name of “progress”.
The Geneva-based World Intellectual Property (WIPO) has now closed its 56th Assemblies of the Member States, which took an interim look at various areas of strategic interest to publishers.
Writing for the Kluwer Copyright Blog, Tatiana Synodinou, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Cyprus, looks at the implications of Brexit on European copyright law, and wonders if, with the UK's common law model out of the equation, could this be an opportunity for deeper integration and a step towards an EU copyright code?
Over the next few months, guest writer Matt Goolding will produce a series of articles shining a spotlight on some of the world’s most prominent violators of freedom to publish. He will examine one country at a time because, while they all have the suppression of this vital human right in common, they are in reality very different places, each deserving our attention.