Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives

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Copyright limitations and exceptions are fundamental for access to knowledge and thus for human and social development.

Why is IFLA advocating for copyright reform at WIPO?

Copyright laws are meant to balance the public interest in accessing information with the rights of authors, artists, and publishers. In some countries, copyright laws include provisions so libraries and archives can provide public access to the world’s knowledge—but in many countries, these exceptions apply only to resources that exist in traditional formats. Outdated copyright laws increasingly prevent libraries and archives from performing their most basic functions, simply because resources are now digital. In a number of countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America, there are no exceptions safeguarding the services of libraries and archives at all.

As rules in favor of copyright holders have increased through binding global treaties, rules for libraries and archives that enable access to information have stayed frozen. The result is a broken copyright system that:

  • Deepens inequalities in public knowledge and skills
  • Creates permanent holes in the historical record
  • Prevents information created today from being available for future generations

IFLA believes that international action is needed to ensure essential library and archive functions continue to be preserved in copyright laws.

What would an international framework look like?

IFLA is seeking an international framework that will facilitate library lending, inter library loan and document supply in digital and print forms; enable use of orphan works; ensure the ability to acquire eBooks from publishers; protect library exceptions from override by contract; among other important library activities. The Treaty Proposal on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives was created by library and archive experts to guide Member States at the SCCR on model copyright provisions and needs to support the activities of these sectors.

What stage are the negotiations at?

Following the successful conclusion of a treaty to ensure access to works for visually impaired people (the Marrakesh Treaty) in June 2013, copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives are high on the SCCR agenda. This is an important opportunity to establish the concerns of libraries and archives, and build momentum to advance SCCR discussions towards an international instrument.  

Last update: 30 September 2016

Latest News

The European Parliament Votes on Copyright Reform: Giving and Taking Away

In a vote on copyright today, Members of the European Parliament offered welcome support to libraries’ heritage work. However, disappointing decisions elsewhere mean that IFLA, its members and its partners will need to continue working towards a law that empowers libraries to help users share, create and innovate.

13 September 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Copyright, European Parliament, Copyright reform

Better Laws, Better Practices: IFLA Active for Libraries on Copyright

Following the launch of a guide to implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty and a statement on copyright literacy at the World Library and Information Congress, IFLA has continued to make the case for copyright that works for libraries. In the last two weeks, the focus has been on the operation of collective rights management and the EU’s copyright reforms.

10 September 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives, WIPO

Make the Right Choice, Send the Right Message: IFLA Urges MEPs to Support Libraries in Copyright Reform

Next Wednesday, all of the European Parliament’s 751 Members will have the opportunity to amend the draft Directive on copyright. In doing so, they will send a message to Europe’s citizens, teachers, creators and researchers. IFLA is urging them to make it a positive one.

7 September 2018 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives, Europe