IPA Blog

WIPO Diary (SCCR 37) Day 4: Racing toward the finish line

Following yesterday’s exceptions and limitations marathon, today was a much shorter affair as the SCCR raced through the agenda. The morning session kicked off with NGOs asked to comment on the progress (or, in the eyes of many civil society organisations, the absence thereof) around exceptions for archives.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 37) Day 3: Don’t Take Exception

Following yesterday’s surprise close to discussions on the Broadcasting Treaty with a Chair’s revised consolidated text, today’s proceedings moved onto Exceptions and Limitations (E&Ls) and the civil society NGOs in favour of E&Ls kicked off the day with a morning side-event.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 37) Day 1 – Dynamic Constructivism or Steady as She Goes?

If you’re not a regular WIPO-watcher you could be forgiven for having forgotten what happened back in May when the 36th session of WIPO’s SCCR confounded expectations and appeared to make progress on the Broadcasting Treaty. Back then there was even talk of a Diplomatic Conference (or DipCon in the jargon) to turn the 20 years of negotiations into an actual treaty. Remind yourself what happened last time by having a quick read through our blog diaries and our jargon buster.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 36) Day 5: And that’s a wrAP

It’s over. There were a few last-minute huddles of regional groups and Member States to thrash out possible compromises on agreed wording, but the 36th meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) came to a close this afternoon.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 36) Day 4: Working the corridors

Day 4 of SCCR is the second day focussing on the Draft Action Plans (DAPs) and Exceptions and Limitations (Es and Ls, check out our jargon buster). The day started out with another round of comments from groups, Member States and observers and featured the same the mix of opinions as yesterday.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 36) Day 3: Frustration in the chamber

After almost a complete day yesterday with the plenary chamber empty because of ‘informals’ on the Broadcasting Treaty, there was more action this morning. Chairman Daren Tang recognised yesterday’s positive momentum on the Broadcasting Treaty before moving discussions on to exceptions and limitations and the proposed draft action plans (DAPs).

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 36) Day 2: Keeping things Informals

Day 2 of this 36th session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights started with an almost empty plenary room, save a handful of NGOs, as the Members States continued their ‘informals’ from last night, with the NGOs following the discussions from the plenary room, without being able to relay them to anyone.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 36) Day 1: Lights. Camera. Action Plans!

The 36th session of World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (check our jargon buster here) kicked off today in Geneva. As well as the 191 Members States who can attend, there are about 60 NGOs registered and participating (including the IPA, STM, IFRRO and others from the Creative Sector Organisations group that IPA coordinates).

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5 Things I Learned in The First Day of IPC 2018

Today was the first day of the 32nd edition of the International Publishers Congress, and this year it is hosted in New Delhi, India.

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International Publishers Congress Blog - Day 2

After yesterday's intense high-level discussions about the future of publishing, copyright and freedom to publish, the second day began with a series of panels about the nitty gritty of publishing and finished with an emotional roller coaster and two standing ovations.

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International Publishers Congress 2018 - Day 1

A full 26 years after the previous IPA Congress in New Delhi, we're back with a great programme. This will be the first of our daily blogs over the next 3 days.

The day started with a traditional candle lighting ceremony, before the Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan, arrived to launch the day's proceedings. IPA President Michiel Kolman gave a keynote address where he called on the publishing industry to stop being defensive and to shout about the industry's many successes, sentiments that were echoed by FIP President, NK Mehra.

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WIPO Blog (SCCR 35) Day 5 – That’s a Wrap

Apart from conducting meetings all week with delegates of Members States, the IPA team has also been busy meeting with the Genevan Ambassadors of key countries. Sometimes we do so to thank them for their support and at other times we do so to quiz them about their positions when they undermine their own local publishers and creators. It’s always good to let our allies know that we appreciate them, and it’s equally important to let the other side know that we are listening to what they say and that, if we disagree, we are always ready and willing to explain our own positions.

Meanwhile, back at WIPO, the morning’s session kicked off with a discussion about a possible new agenda item for future SCCR meetings: resale right for visual artists, otherwise known as ‘droit de suite’. Resale right already exists in a number of jurisdictions and in places like Australia it works quite well. If resale right were to make its way onto the main SCCR agenda it would be a welcome change since it is a topic that expands creators’ rights in contrast to the insistent discussions around exceptions and limitations to copyright law which we have had to endure for some years. The discussion this morning revolved around a presentation by Professor Joelle Farchy on the report Economic Implications of the Resale Right, which she co-authored with Professor Kathryn Graddy and which concluded that artists were, unsurprisingly, overwhelmingly in favour of implementing resale right internationally. In the end, the Member States decided to continue to discuss this topic but keep it under the ‘other matters’ rubric rather than the main agenda.

Also discussed today was a Scoping Study on the Impact of the Digital Environment on Copyright Legislation Adopted between 2006 and 2016 authored by Dr Guilda Rostama, as well as Professor Jane Ginsburg’s summary of a brainstorming exercise between copyright academics conducted at WIPO in April around the topic of the application of copyright in the digital environment. These developments surely point to a growing interest and imperative at SCCR to focus on the effects of the digital economy on the workings of copyright, although some Member States pointed out that the topic as proposed by the GRULAC Group (Latin American and Caribbean countries) goes beyond the scope of copyright protection.

A number of other topics were wrapped up in the last few hours of the day and the Chair’s Summary (usually requiring a painful and protracted negotiation) was accepted relatively easily. We were liberated from SCCR 35 just after 19:00 and we walked out of WIPO into a dark and cold Geneva night, tired but satisfied that some progress had been made on the Broadcasting Treaty but no damage had been done on the exceptions and limitations part of the agenda.

As a codicil, the rhetoric of the meeting swerved when some NGOs began talking about the economic success of nations that had supposedly more ‘flexible’ copyright regimes. Many of us from the Creative Sector Organisations heard in this rhetoric echoes of tech giants pushing for US-style ‘Fair Use’ — arguments that the IPA has consistently countered. At the end of the SCCR, it was good to receive a rebuttal, by Dr George Ford of the Phoenix Center in Washington DC, of one of the studies presented at the meeting which was attempting to indicate a link between ‘open exceptions’ and innovation.

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WIPO Blog (SCCR 35) Day 3 – Crews Control and Action Plans

With our unusually large contingent at this SCCR, the IPA team was able to attend a number of simultaneous meetings today, even before the SCCR morning session began. Some of us were at the meeting convened by WIPO to come up with a set of non-binding principles relating to the functioning of Collective Management Organisations; while others attended a high-level briefing by the USA delegation; and still others were at a joint meeting of the so-called Group B (developed) countries and the Central European and Baltic States (CEBS) group. The IPA was joined by other Creative Sector Organisations for the latter. These meetings are essential opportunities for dialogue but this morning the Members States were mostly playing it safe and giving very little away.

When the SCCR proper finally got under way at 10:00am, we immediately started discussing exceptions and limitations for libraries, archives and education, including in particular draft Action Plans that had been prepared by the WIPO Secretariat. A good summary of all the plans is provided by the website IP Watch here. The IPA intervened on the draft Action Plan through our representative at the SCCR, Ted Shapiro, who is a Partner and Head of the Brussels Office of the law firm Wiggin. Ted said:

‘We would like to reiterate our view that the current international legal framework provides ample flexibility for Member States to enact exceptions and limitations consistent with their own legal traditions. It goes without saying that exceptions and limitations, which are legal defences to what are otherwise infringements of copyright, have a profound impact on all rightholders as well as other stakeholders. The Berne Convention/TRIPS/WCT three-step test provides the means for measuring this impact – which is why it is applied internationally and nationally both by legislatures and courts.

We believe that the draft action plan, while some details may need further clarification, provides a useful basis for a number of activities that could support exchange of info and capacity building that can inform countries — including, in particular, developing nations — in their efforts to ensure balanced national copyright laws consistent with the international framework. The IPA stands ready to participate in conferences and provide both legal and commercial experts to assist.

Peace love and copyright.’

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 34) Day 5 - The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

Fridays at the SCCR are always unpredictable, and Friday 5 May was no exception. Yet whereas the usual drill is the final plenary dragging on late into the evening to enable time for a satisfactory closure, today was a little more mysterious.

For starters, there was more backroom huddling than open plenary debate at times when the sessions were theoretically meant to be live. The chamber stood eerily quiet for much of the day.

This was largely driven by the chairman, Daren Tang, who was anxious that his first SCCR should conclude with a substantive recommendation to the budget-setting WIPO General Assemblies, in October.

In his own words, the goal was to produce something more meaningful than the usual safe recommendation that the SCCR should merely keep strumming away at the incumbent agenda.

However, having resumed the final plenary at around 4pm, Tang then quickly adjourned it again to allow the national groupings to hold decisive in camera talks, and draw a confident line under the week’s work.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 34) Day 4 - Copyright: if it ain't broke, don't fix it

Today the SCCR talks ticked onwards to the ‘and persons of other disabilities’ part of the agenda item ‘limitations and exceptions for educational and research institutions and for persons with other disabilities’ (referring to non-visual impairments).

Professor Blake Reid, of the University of Colorado, an IP and disability law maven, presented the skeleton of a new scoping study that will map the potential needs of people with ‘other disabilities’ and to determine the extent to which copyright law is affecting them.

The lunchtime lobbying event was staged by a group of organizations, including the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (the PIJIP, which made an appearance in yesterday’s post) whose stated common goal is ‘fixing copyright for modern education’.

Among the speakers was Delia Browne, ‘education lead’ for Creative Commons Australia and Director of Australia’s National Copyright Unit (Schools and TAFEs). One of her roles is to consult on copyright law reviews in Australia, which means she’s never idle.

Delia began by noting that Australia is often held up as a benchmark in providing educational access, due to a system of statutory licensing which has been around since the 1980s and a whole series of exceptions.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 34) Day 3 - IPA takes centre stage

WIPO Diary (SCCR 34) Day 3 - IPA takes centre stage

Committee Chair Daren Tang brought to bear his endearing blend of levitas and gravitas this morning as he started the day’s negotiations on ‘limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives’. As he did so, Tang reminded the delegates of the burden of responsibility they bear, something that’s becoming his signature patter.

He said their decisions ‘can make a positive impact on the lives of the millions of citizens out there who are in different countries struggling with different issues’, and that copyright ‘impacts the lives of every person’.

‘I hope that we will be able to move towards something that is constructive, something that is useful not just from the government perspective, but from the human perspective ... the connection of what we do here with the lives of those people will become a lot more apparent than it is now, will become a lot more positive than it is right now, and I believe that's the spirit in which we should work,’ he said.

The inference – intended or otherwise – is that the SCCR has a duty to put the greater good before self-interest and other less noble considerations.

Despite this, most of the delegates then stated again that an international instrument is the wrong approach, while pockets of the Global South want it. By the same token, content owners don’t see the point, while librarians and archivists vehemently do. It’s hard to see a way through this impasse, and indeed the Chair’s greatest task now will be to map such a route.

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WIPO Diary Day 2 (SCCR 34) - 'Informals' in the chamber of secrets

Today’s talks unfolded almost entirely behind closed doors during so-called ‘informals’, a setting usually employed to unblock a particularly tough impasse, when consensus on the floor of the plenary has proved impossible.

The informals, which take place in a separate chamber on the WIPO campus, are strictly for country delegations only. NGOs are not invited, but we can follow the audio feed from the plenary chamber provided we don’t report publicly what is said.

This approach enables the delegates to be freer and franker when wrangling over semantic minutiae that, ultimately, will form the substance of the text.

It was late afternoon before the committee returned to the plenary chamber to report on their talks. Chairman Daren Tang immediately poured cold water on the idea that a diplomatic conference on the broadcasting treaty was around the corner (see previous blog post). However, he did suggest the 'chair's text' be upgraded to a 'committee text'. This is a baby step closer to collective acceptance of the working document under discussion, which until now had only reflected the previous chair's personal attempt to provide a fair text.

Other than that, I have nothing much to write about what happened today ... so let’s look at tomorrow, when the IPA, with FEP and Bertlesmann, will stage a side-event with a difference.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 34) Day 1 - Musical chairs, and all that jazz.

WIPO Diary (SCCR 34) Day 1 - Musical chairs, and all that jazz.

SCCR 34 opened this rainy Geneva morning, if not with a bang, at least with the hope that proceedings could ‘swing’ under the leadership of the committee’s upbeat new chairman, onetime jazzman, Daren Tang.

After WIPO Director General Francis Gurry passed him the gavel, Tang, who is CEO of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, promised to do his best to yield results – particularly on the stickier agenda items.

Chief among these is the ‘protection of broadcasting organizations’, which has basically ping-ponged back and forth across the floor for 20 years, despite WIPO’s best efforts to drag it forwards.

Acknowledging the friction, Tang said: “The work has been challenging. Some of the items on the agenda as you know have been around for a long time and I will not deny that they challenge the spirit of openness, transparency and fairness. We hope we’ll be able to give this meeting and all the different agenda items in it the best possible airing, the best possible push.”

Tang also hoped that his perspectives and experience, coming from Singapore – “a bridge between East and West, North and South, developed and developing” – would help things along.

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 33) Day 5 - Moving on

WIPO Diary (SCCR 33) Day 5 - Moving on

And so ends another SCCR marathon: hundreds of delegates locked in some 40 hours of discussion over five days; only God knows how many mini-sandwiches, cups of undrinkable coffee and MBs of data have been consumed.

The IPA put in a strong showing this time. For the first time ever the IPA delegation included its President (elect) and the Chair of the copyright committee. Add to that the Secretary General, our razor-sharp legal counsel and, well, me, and we were a distinctly visible presence in the crowd.

Having been wrapped in the copyright bubble since Monday and talked of little else between the hours of 9am and 7pm, I get a sense that there has been a definite shift in humour.

Frustration and possibly a vague embarrassment over the impasse has peaked and is spurring the chamber to action on the broadcasters treaty; the inside track is that a diplomatic conference may be announced as early as SCCR 34, from 1-5 May 2017.

Here's Carlo Scollo Lavizzari to tell you how he thinks it went:

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WIPO Diary (SCCR 33) Day 4 - A way with words

WIPO Diary (SCCR 33) Day 4 - A way with words

Professor Daniel Seng returned to the chamber briefly this morning to field more questions and comments about his mega-study. A night’s sleep had clearly worked wonders on everyone, and the questions came thick and fast from all corners of the room.

Some delegates wanted clarifications; others suggested ways to improve the report. And it seemed that my prayers in Wednesday’s post had been answered when the Brazilian delegate spoke. In previous SCCRs Brazil has made a series of utterances indicating a distinctly ‘copyleft’ bent. But perhaps the wind of change blowing through Brazilian politics has arrived on this side of the Atlantic, as the delegate said: ‘In Brazil, this report will provide us with much food for thought in our ongoing internal debates about copyright law reform.’

Once Prof. Seng had departed (probably for a well-earned rest), the discussion moved onto exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives. One of the first interventions of the session was by the Nigerian spokeswoman on behalf of the African Group.

She said: ‘We believe it is simply time to determine a functional path forward, for the committee's work in this area. We strongly believe that the absence of a clear result-oriented timeframe for the committee — for the committee's discussion of the limitations and exceptions agenda — is more harmful than helpful to the work programme of the SCCR and the overall objective of the exercise.’

IPA’s legal counsel Carlo Scollo Lavizzari, a Swiss polyglot who’s well versed in diplo-speak, suggested that this statement could be read in two ways. Either the African Group wants to strike exceptions and limitations from the agenda altogether, since it is acting as a brake, or, more likely, they want to impose a strict timeframe in order to force a more urgent resolution.

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