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James Taylor

James Taylor

James Taylor joined the IPA As Director of Communications and Freedom to Publish in January 2018. 


Prior to joining the IPA in Geneva, James was based in Brussels where he looked after communications and public affairs at the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA), the European grouping of collective management organisations for screenwriters and directors. He started his career in Brussels dealing with communication and membership services at the Independent Music Companies Association, IMPALA.

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IPA’s President-elect, Hugo Setzer, virtually opened the last day of SCCR 37 in a video prepared by the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC). Hugo spoke eloquently (in Spanish, with English subtitles) about accessibility issues as they affect his native Mexico as well as the global context. 

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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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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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The first day of the SCCR37 closed with ‘informal’ discussions about the Broadcasting Treaty amid much interest about whether the Argentine and American proposals would lead to a breakthrough or the continuation of the current deadlock.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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The WIPO SCCR meets twice a year. But what is WIPO? Who is Darren Tang? IPA will be posting daily blogs from the marathon five-day meeting. Acronyms will be flying. You can read our jargon-buster below. What can you expect from next week’s meeting?

  1. Politics: With 191 Member States, this is international multilateral diplomacy at its finest. And slowest. The agenda has been virtually static for some time and what constitutes ‘progress’ can be difficult to discern for unseasoned WIPO-watchers. Developed and developing nations have differing agendas when it comes to many aspects of IP policy and so there is always horse-trading. Draft Action Plans (DAPs) have been recently presented well ahead of the meeting so progress is possible but is it in the direction we hoped for?
  2. Broadcasting: Point 1 on the agenda (as it has been for some time), the Broadcasting Treaty proposal was launched way back in 1996. A diplomatic conference to finalise the treaty is starting to look like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. IPA believes that concluding discussions on the Broadcasting Treaty would be a good thing if other Creative Sector Organisations (CSOs) concerns can be ironed out. 
  3. Exceptions and Limitations (Es and Ls): Discussions on Es and Ls are three-pronged in nature: libraries and archives, educational uses, museums. The potential impact on the livelihood of publishers (as demonstrated by what happened in 2012 in Canada) is huge. It is vital that the international publishing community has a voice in this forum to defend copyright as the foundation of the industry and efficient affordable licensing as the solution to many of the needs in both developed and developing Member States.

Our first WIPO blog will be out on Monday evening. You can refresh your memory of what happened last time here.

 

JARGON BUSTER

The acronyms

WIPO: The World Intellectual Property Organisation. A self-funded agency of the United Nations with 191 Member States (MS) dealing with all types of largely intellectual property (IP). Most of the self-funding comes from income from the registration of international patents. Its work on copyright is mainly normative (i.e. treaty making) but also includes the guided development of national law. The Berne Convention, the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the Marrakesh Treaty are examples of WIPO instruments.

SCCR: The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, which meets twice a year, usually in May and November,  for 5-day meetings.

Es and Ls: Exceptions and Limitations (to copyright), currently a standing agenda item of the SCCR.

CSO: Creative Sector Organisations – a loose grouping of organisations from the publishing, music and film and other sectors, coordinated by the IPA.

ABC: The Accessible Books Consortium. A formal stakeholder platform primarily financed by WIPO to develop the availability of published works in accessible formats around the world. The board consists of representatives of copyright holders and print disabled communities. IPA is an active and founding participant.

Other WIPO committees are the Committee on Development and Intellectual Property Rights (CDIP), Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) on Intellectual Property (IP) and Genetic Resources (GR), Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (TK), which also encompasses Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCE), as well as the Advisory Committee on Enforcement (ACE) and the Committee on WIPO Standards (CWS).

 

The people

Francis Gurry: WIPO Director General (DG) since October 2008. Worked for over 20 years in the WIPO secretariat before becoming DG.

Sylvie Forbin: WIPO Deputy Director General (DDG) since 2016. Her early career was as a French diplomat. She joined WIPO after 15 years as Senior Vice President for Public and European Affairs for Vivendi.

Darren Tang: Chairman of the SCCR, CEO of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.

 

The WIPO groups

WIPO Member States are also organised into groupings (either regional or economic):

  • Africa Group 
  • Asia-Pacific Group (APG)
  • Central Asian, Caucasus and Eastern European Countries Group (CACEEC)
  • Central European and Baltic States Group (CEBS)
  • Group B (Developed countries (including North America, Western Europe, Autralia New Zealand, Japan, Turkey and Israel), so-called because they use meeting room B).
  • Latin American and Caribbean Countries Group (GRULAC)

 

The jargon

The Broadcasting Treaty: Negotiations started in 1996 (following adoption of the WIPO Internet Treaties) to protect broadcasters signals in the light of new technologies. Over two decades later discussions are ongoing.

Informals: Off-site meetings used to resolve points of contention (e.g. language in a proposed text) away from the stiffness of the plenary chamber. They take place in a separate chamber on the WIPO campus and are strictly for country delegations only. NGOs are not invited, but can follow the audio feed from the plenary chamber provided they do not report publicly what is said.

Side-events: Events and presentations organised by groups or stakeholders during the breaks around the official SCCR agenda.

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The final day of the Congress started with a detailed look at 'Book Markets in India'. Emma House, Deputy CEO of the PA UK, spoke about the size and importance of each publishing sector and the variety of languages (India has 22 official languages but Hindi and English make up 90% of publications). André Breedt of Nielsen noted, educational publishing dominates the Indian market. Local publisher Himanshu Gupta (S Chand) claimed that Indian publishers are embracing digital as an enabler for hybrid learning. He was supported by Vikas Gupta of Wiley, who called on publishers to become platforms for smart digital content.

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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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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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Just 4 days to go until the beginning of this year’s International Publishers Congress, back in New Delhi after a 26-year break.

The full programme is now online and is packed with interesting discussions on all aspects of the publishing industry. 

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