Discussions on Copyright Exceptions for Archives to Continue at WIPO

The 35th meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Standing Committee on
Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR35) took place in Geneva 13-17 November 2017. The ICA
continues to advocate for a binding international treaty setting out basic exceptions and
limitations that will enable archives and libraries around the globe to fulfil their mission to make
their holdings available for non-commercial purposes.

At SCCR34 last May, the Member States (MS) had requested that the Secretariat prepare a single
action plan for libraries and archives (L&A). However, the Secretariat produced separate action
plans, each with a different timeline and some different components. The plans involved more
studies and consultation that would not be reported until SCCR39 in Nov 2019, with no
indication that the data collected would actually move the topic forward. For various reasons,
MS were unwilling to consider the proposed action plans, and the Chair agreed to prepare a
single action plan for discussion at SCCR36 in May 2018.

Another concern was the SCCR’s reluctance to recognize that museums would benefit equally
from the copyright exceptions needed by L&A. However, despite our efforts to emphasize our
common interests, museums remain separate from L&A, and more work is needed to convince
the SCCR to treat cultural heritage institutions together.

Much of the time at SCCR35 was taken up with reports on various studies commissioned by the
WIPO Secretariat. Notable among them was the third edition of Professor Kenneth Crews’
comprehensive study of the copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives in the
copyright laws of WIPO’s 191 member states.

Despite initial concerns about the Secretariat’s draft action plans, we remain optimistic that the
Chair’s action plan will allow us to move forward on this topic at SCCR36. The ICA will
continue to work with allied cultural heritage organizations and with the member states that
strongly support a treaty (e.g., the African Group, the Asia-Pacific Group, and the Latin
American and Caribbean countries).

Jean Dryden
ICA Representative to SCCR35