International Copyright Debate: Libraries

Libraries and Archives was the hot topic of an international meeting held in November, 2011 that looked at the development of an international treaty for exceptions and limitations to copyright.

The 23rd session of the standing committee on Copyright and Related Rights of the United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) gathered librarians and other sources to discuss the role of libraries and archives in copyright exceptions. Currently, there is no international standard for libraries and archives right to copyright exceptions. This means that many countries do not have exceptions to copyright which prevents them from saving heritage material.

Margret Ann Wilkinson, a professor of law at the University of Western Ontario and trained librarian attended the session as the only representative from Canada. Wilkinson expressed surprise when the discussion moved to giving all libraries the right for limitless reproduction of copyright material and the right to lend the copyright works.

“As a Canadian, I wouldn’t have thought to address that,” Wilkinson said. “It’s just taken for granted here, but not in other countries. It is the right of libraries to lend books, but there are countries in the world where the law is not clear that libraries have this right.”

The committee was presented with documents from library organizations around the world. Many worked towards creating international, fundamental rights for copyright exceptions while others looked at the role of the digital world in libraries. There was still no official treaty by the end of the WIPO Session, there was forward movement in discussion of equal access of information.

For further information on WIPO please visit the official webpage.

For further information about Margret Ann Wilkinson please see this article posted by the Western News.


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