From 13 to 17 March 2023, Creative Commons (CC) participated in the 43rd session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) in Geneva, Switzerland. In this blog post, we look back on the highlights of the SCCR/43 week.
— Brigitte Vézina (@Brigitte_Vezina) March 15, 2023
Wikimedia denied observer status…again
We once again support the Wikimedia Foundation, who have yet again been denied accreditation as an observer to WIPO’s standing committee on copyright and related rights (SCCR).
CC’s policy agenda at WIPO
We generally drive copyright reform towards better sharing of copyright content in the public interest and in tune with the sharing possibilities of the digital environment. We promote better sharing and open culture, and recently published a Call to Action to policymakers that offers a basis for a shared vision on better sharing in the cultural context. We also share many of the views co-developed by our partners in the A2K coalition, including Communia, Centrum Cyfrowe and Intellectual Property Institution.
Our views on the draft broadcasting treaty
Regarding the discussions on a draft broadcasting treaty, we voiced our opposition to the Second Revised Draft Text of the Broadcasting Treaty. While we agree that broadcast content plays a key role in today’s society, the Draft would deal a severe blow to the public domain, threaten to unduly curtail the possibilities offered by open licensing, and is antithetical to people’s freedom to share and right to equitable access to knowledge.
Our two main concerns were that the Draft (1) lacks robust, mandatory exceptions and limitations to guarantee access to broadcast content for purposes of research, education, journalism, cultural preservation and creativity; (2) threatens to unduly curtail the possibilities offered by open licensing and restrict access to or distribution of works already licensed under a Creative Commons license, as noted in the past.
This is particularly concerning, given the way that open licenses like Creative Commons licenses are one way to improve distribution, allow for remix creativity, and enrich the resources available on popular free knowledge platforms such as Wikipedia. For example, in 2020, German public broadcaster ZDF released dozens of videos of its documentary series Terra X under CC licenses, leading to a massive increase in the amount of content available under open licenses for the benefit of users across the world. The videos on climate change published in 2019 soon found their way into prominent Wikipedia articles, leading to hundreds of thousands of views.
Our views on exceptions and limitations
Preservation, access, sharing, use, and reuse of cultural heritage are essential ingredients of thriving and resilient societies and are demonstrated contributors to sustainable development. Alas, overly restrictive or outdated copyright laws continue to raise unnecessary barriers around cultural heritage. CC stewards legal tools to enhance the sharing of a wide variety of creative content, including cultural heritage. But while they advance global sharing, they are not designed to establish a general, permissive framework for everyone — that is the role of clear, effective, and consistent limitations and exceptions.
We welcomed the Toolkit on Preservation (SCCR/43/4); it is a valuable resource that provides important guidance. However, this document fails to consider the crucial aspect of access in preservation efforts. Preservation is not just about storage, it is about how our heritage lives on in the interpretations of researchers, in the recreations of creators, and in the minds and hearts of every member of the public enjoying their fundamental right to access cultural heritage. Access is a precondition for preservation that is meaningful, inclusive and sustainable. Moreover, this document is not a substitute for an international normative instrument that would guarantee clear and certain exceptions for preservation at the international level.
Conclusions and next steps
Overall, we are pleased with the many steps forward taken by the Committee at this session. First, on exceptions and limitations, we welcome the SCCR’s adoption of a work program based on the Proposal by the African Group for a Draft Work Program on Exceptions and Limitations (SCCR/43/8), which we supported. The program calls on the Committee to discuss “priority issues” including:
to promote the adaptation of exceptions to ensure that laws at the national level enable the preservation activities of libraries, archives, and museums, including the use of preserved materials;
to promote the adaptation of exceptions to the online environment, such as by permitting teaching, learning and research through digital and online tools; and
to review implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty and how to ensure that people with other disabilities (also covered by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) can benefit from similar protections, in particular in order to benefit from new technologies.
The program also proposes that discussions be facilitated by the Committee on the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science (2021) and its implications for international copyright laws and policies, an initiative that we support, given CC’s involvement in the development of this important UNESCO instrument.
We are also pleased with its decision to start negotiations with a view to “preparing objectives and principles and options for implementation” on exceptions and limitations.
Second, regarding the draft broadcasting treaty (SCCR/43/3), we commend the Committee for its decision to revise the document, including its limitations and exceptions provisions, and look forward to the Chair’s Third Revised Draft Text, which will be used as a basis for discussion at the next SCCR session.
Third, the Committee agreed that there should be a three-day session of the SCCR (SCCR/44) during the week of November 6, 2023. We welcome this opportunity to intensify substantive discussions and look forward to actively participating in shaping a fairer and more balanced copyright system that supports better sharing in the public interest.
To stay informed about our copyright and cultural heritage work:
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