WIPO Pan-African meeting discusses exceptions and limitations to copyright

On 12-13 June, representatives from 45 African countries gathered in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss how to facilitate good access to copyright-protected works in libraries, educational institutions, museums and archives. They concluded that the first priority must be to work on their own national laws to take advantage of the flexibilities inherent in the copyright framework, by sharing experiences.wipo-nairobi.jpgThe IAF, IFJ, IFRRO and IPA delegations

The 192 Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have been discussing for some years the question of access to copyright protected-works in libraries, archives and museums, and educational and research institutions. To facilitate these discussions, two action plans were adopted in 2018 by the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. They comprise a number of studies and reports and they foresee a series of three regional seminars to discuss these reports and explore the issues being experienced in the different countries. The first regional seminar for the Asia-Pacific region took place in Singapore on 29-30 April, the second seminar for the African Group was held in Nairobi on 12-13 June, and the third and final regional seminar for Latin America and the Caribbean is due to take place in Santo Domingo on 4-5 July.

IFRRO is accredited as an observer to WIPO and IFRRO members participate in all three regional seminars.

On 12 and 13 June the African regional seminar on Libraries, Archives, Museums and Educational and Research Institutions in the Field of Copyright took place in Nairobi, Kenya. In the morning of the 12th, WIPO experts presented their studies and reports carried out to help inform the decision makers about the current situation and possible challenges in accessing works. In the afternoon and the following morning, three sub-groups (two English-speaking and one French-speaking) were formed and allowed Member States representatives to have a thorough discussion of the practical issues they faced. In the afternoon of the 13th, they all gathered again in a plenary session to report on their discussions.

In the subgroups, Member States exchanged on practical issues, such as cross border aspects of interlibrary loans, the scope of exceptions for exhibitions catalogues, and the different licensing models that exist to cater for educational uses of works. While the discussions were driven by Member States, observers representing all stakeholder groups (libraries, schools, universities, authors, publishers, film producers) were able to intervene and share their experience. The discussions were lively and revealed the peculiarities of copyright in Africa, where legal frameworks differ from one country to another, reflecting the diversity of the nations and their cultures. For instance, the discussion on the exhibition of artworks in museums and whether such exhibition forms part of the right of communication to the public revealed different approaches among African countries. Likewise, it appeared that different solutions have been developed in Africa to address the question of the relationship between educational exceptions and collective licences, showing the need to benchmark against these solutions.

The conclusions of the discussions in each of the subgroups revealed that there is a need to better understand and share information on exceptions and limitations, their scope, how they can adapt to new (digital uses), and also how they can be made subject to fair compensation.

IFRRO participated in the meeting with a delegation comprising representatives from Reproduction Rights Organisations in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Zambia. Other delegations included those from IAF, IFJ and IPA with authors and journalists from Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe and publishers from Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and South Africa. They shared experience on the importance of collective licensing for the copyright system to work properly. These compensation models guarantee safe and legal access to works in educational institutions and libraries while remunerating rights holders. They are supported by students, encouraged by governments and they provide authors and publishers with a remuneration that allows them to keep writing and publishing.

The African seminar was preceded on 10 and 11 June by a Regional Meeting for African Heads of Copyright Offices organized in cooperation with OAPI and ARIPO where representatives from African countries gathered to discuss the implementation of copyright policies. Current issues, such as the possibility of a Broadcasting Treaty and the artists’ resale right, were also discussed.

At the end of this meeting, African Member States with WIPO, ARIPO, OAPI, UEMOA and partner organisations adopted the Nairobi Strategic Plan for copyright and related rights in Africa. This declaration marks the first time a common African strategy on copyright has been developed. IFRRO was happy to see that the declaration includes, among other objectives, to enhance collective management and to facilitate the establishment of CMOs.