Over 200 delegates and guests joined in the celebration of IFRRO's 25th Anniversary at the IFRRO Annual General Meeting hosted by KOPINOR in Oslo last week. Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Elisabeth Walaas, welcomed delegates on behalf of the Norwegian Minister of Culture. She stressed the importance of copyright in protecting the rights of authors and in promoting cultural diversity and the many different voices of creators in our society – particularly now in the age of digitization. She warmly supported the current copyright initiatives such as Europeana, the WIPO stakeholder platform on Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs) and the joint development programme organized by the Norwegian Copyright Development Agency (Norcode) and WIPO in 2009.
The themes of access for the disabled, digitization and development training were echoed in the words of encouragement and support which also came from Michael Keplinger (WIPO), Gift Sibanda (ARIPO), Paulin Edou Edou (OAPI) and Jennefer Nicholson (IFLA).
In a packed agenda, delegates heard of IFRRO's plans to assist RROs to develop new Business Models for the digital arena to sustain authors' and publishers' initiatives. They were also given an update of the developments in the Google Settlement Program, in which IFRRO was not directly involved but aimed to act as a knowledge broker for its members. Seven new members were welcomed since last year, including two just approved at the Board meeting in Oslo – KOPITAN, the RRO for Tanzania, and the Korean Society of Authors (KOSA), which became an Associate Member of IFRRO. Grateful thanks were given to Tarja Koskinen-Olsson, who was stepping down as honorary President of IFRRO after eight years, and to other previous IFRRO Chairs and Presidents – Peter Shepherd and Ferdinand Melichar. André Beemsterboer, who had passed away in January, was remembered with affection and respect.
In a special ceremony to mark the 25th Anniversary, delegates heard from some of the leading lights in IFRRO's first years - Joe Allen, Paul Asser and John-Willy Rudolph – as they discussed IFRRO's early trials and triumphs with Monica Seeber, who wrote the official history of IFRRO: "Enabling Access – 25 Years of IFRRO".