International publishers warn of 'severe' risk on copyright

International publishers warn of 'severe' risk on copyright

The International Publishers’ Association (IPA) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) have warned that Europe's creative industries risk being "severely" prejudiced by measures taken by the World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO) committee on copyright.

WIPO, an agency of the United Nations, aims to “lead the development of a balanced and effective international intellectual property (IP) system”. WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is currently looking at limitations and exceptions to copyright internationally, with a particular focus on educational activities, libraries and archives, and on people with disabilities, particularly those with visually impairments.

The IPA and FEP have joined with other trade groups,  including the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers and the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers, in calling for the European Union to clarify the mandate of the SCCR before it commits to further work on copyright limitations and exceptions.

An open letter signed by the organisations stated that a "broad range of divergent views" exists among WIPO member states. The “future direction of the SCCR may have far-reaching implications for the international copyright framework”, especially in relation to topics including the limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, it said.

Europe’s creative industries and wider European interests risk being “severely” prejudiced, the letter also warned.

“The preferred approach to undertake an exchange of national experiences and technical cooperation based on the existing international copyright framework — which indeed allows for appropriate and balanced copyright limitations and exceptions — is sensible, realistic and indispensable to the aim of maintaining requisite balance and flexibility in the existing international copyright framework,” it said.

The letter says that WIPO member states “first need to agree on principles and objectives before engaging in further discussions about a possible international instrument”. WIPO should establish a framework which allows the exchange of experiences and technical cooperation and assistance.

The letter ended: “Our firm position is that WIPO needs to strive for a balanced and effective international copyright framework. We believe that the European Union and its member states should have a fair and clear approach on the matter and we stand ready to assist in this matter of critical importance to European and international creative sectors."