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 Outdated copyright laws increasingly prevent libraries and archives from performing their most basic functions, simply because resources are now digital.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: 12 January 2019

Latest News

Adoption of the European Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market

The Council of the European Union has now also adopted the European Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. After the entry into force of the text in a few weeks, a period of national implementation will start. IFLA, alongside partner organisations, will now engage with members at the national level to get the best outcome for libraries.

17 April 2019 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Access to knowledge, Advocacy, Associations, Conservation, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives, eLending, eLending for Libraries

Availability, License Terms and Pricing of eBooks: an Interview with Rebecca Giblin

ELending is becoming increasingly important and is already well-established in many countries. While jurisdictions approach the lending of eBooks and other digital material in many different ways, licensing is often part of the equation. And with that, challenges arise for the library sector.

12 April 2019 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Access to knowledge, accessibility, Advocacy, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives, eBooks, eLending, eLending for Libraries, Intellectual property, licensing, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States

Global Discussions on Exceptions and Limitations to Copyright for Libraries Continue

It’s time to look back at a of week global discussions on copyright at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). There were useful new reports and materials, signs of consensus on all sides that exceptions and limitations are an essential part of the copyright framework, and further proof that action is needed to allow libraries to work across borders.

9 April 2019 | CLM (Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters), Access to information, Access to knowledge, Advocacy, Archives, Copyright, Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries & Archives, Policy