[A2k] EU statement on libraries and archives at SCCR 23 (22 November 2011)

Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Tue Nov 22 02:22:30 PST 2011

This is taken from the WIPO live-stream.


"Thank you, Chairman on behalf of the EU and it's Member States, libraries and archives are essential institutions for the dissemination of knowledge, culture and information for all of our countries. The copyright system has always been mindful of this. Limitations and exceptions to the benefits of these institutions are a possibility and are the existing international conventions and a reality in 28[?] national laws. 

The copyright system has also always been mindful of the fact that legal systems differ. So do legal traditions and the functioning of these institutions. That is why it allows for flexibility. Flexibility which gets translated in the fair use doctrine in some countries in specific limitations and exceptions in others, or in a system of licenses yet in other jurisdictions. 

There is a range of exceptions and limitations for the benefit of libraries and archives permitted in European law. The framework for these exceptions and limitations is largely provided by directive 2001/29/EC under harmonization of certain aspects of Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society. 

These exceptions have an optional character and allow for a degree of flexibility which is particularly important in view of the different legal systems and traditions of the 27 Member States. 

All EU Member States have adapted their national laws to provide exceptions and limitations of this type. And these laws allow libraries and archives to make copies and to make works accessible under certain conditions for many different purposes, including private study, research, and cultural preservation. 

Mr. Chairman, we have an ambitious agenda in front of us this week. We take note of the various proposals on the table. Of course we want to make progress on all issues. But this should not lead us to believe that all issues are similar. At the same stage of discussions and in need of equivalent solutions. 

We all know this is not the case. We should all be aware of dangers associated with ignoring this reality. The EU and it's Member States are ready and willing to discuss the system in which exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives function in Europe and in the rest of the world and how they are used in practice. However, we are reluctant at this preliminary stage of our discussion to engage in any drafting exercise. 

Instead we believe that structured discussions on objectives and principles around specific clusters of issues as suggested just now by the United States would allow -- would allow a useful and instructive exchange of principles and practices taking into account that exceptions are an issue determined by national law. 

We should remember that copyright is a fundamental and key factor of sustaining creativity and innovation which are of crucial importance to the well being of every society and country. We cannot forget our obligation as a Committee to deliver very balanced solutions built upon thorough analysis of all benefits and also negative impacts they could entail.

I thank you, Mr. Chair."


Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

thiru at keionline.org

Tel: +41 22 791 6727
Mobile: +41 76 508 0997

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