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International Copyright Advocates Urge WIPO to Consider Library Concerns

“WIPO HQ” by villoks | CC BY-NC-SA

On behalf of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), Janice Pilch, one of OITP’s International Copyright Advocates, participated in the second session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Committee on Development and Intellectual Property in Geneva, Switzerland from July 7-11, 2008. Through two formal statements (PDF)–one jointly issued with the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)–LCA urged the WIPO committee to recognize and support the ongoing work that libraries undertake as stakeholders in intellectual property issues. For example, libraries engage in copyright education, purchase content, negotiate and manage rights and access to content, and provide direct links to user communities.

A goal of the WIPO Development Agenda is determining how to best address aspects of public awareness, education, training and outreach on various aspects of intellectual property. However, the library associations pointed out the need for balance between protection and access:

A challenge to the programs will be creating a workable equilibrium between intellectual property protection and the special needs of developing countries to make available the benefits of new information and communications technologies, and the content they provide, to transform the lives of citizens.

Specifically, LCA stated that if WIPO wishes to champion strong intellectual property protection as a strategy in spurring the economies of developing countries, efforts must be made up front to grant a developing country latitude in the ways it uses particular materials that can boost its economy. LCA recommended that WIPO consider an amendment to the Berne Appendix in order to reflect these exceptions and needs.

The library community supports access to knowledge and technology, adequate limitation and exceptions for purposes of education, scholarship, and creativity, and a robust public domain. If these important provisions can be adequately addressed, LCA and IFLA indicated that they will continue to work with WIPO and its Member States to engage with the development goals. OITP thanks Janice, LCA, and IFLA for the hard work and ongoing commitment to this cause!


The Library Copyright Alliance consists of five major U.S. Library associations, including the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association. The mission of LCA is to foster global access and fair use of information for creativity, research, and education.

The International Federation of Library Associations is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession.

The World Intellectual Property Organization is is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property system.

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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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