KEI statement to 48th WIPO General Assemblies on the SCCR work program
Below is the statement delivered by KEI on Thursday, 23 September 2010 to the 48th WIPO General Assemblies on agenda item 27 dealing with Report on the Work of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).
48th Session of the WIPO ASSEMBLIES
Thursday, 23 September 2010
Item 27: Report on the Work of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)
Thank you Madame Chair for providing Knowledge Ecology International with the opportunity to discuss the work program of the SCCR. Our comments will focus on the topic of copyright limitations and exceptions, as regards to the important issue of access to knowledge, and the expectations of some member states that there will be higher levels of copyright enforcement in the near future.
KEI agrees with the Africa Group and other member states that the SCCR should make commitments to address broader access to knowledge issues, in the context of limitations and exceptions to copyright, particularly in the area of education and research. We recognize this is a difficult and complex issue, and that norm setting will have to take into account the impact of exceptions on the markets for such products, and need to provide certain areas where educators, students and others have the freedom to copy and use certain works outside of an exclusive rights framework. In this regard, we think the SCCR may find it useful to reflect upon the experience of member states in using the Appendix to the Berne, which was designed to address some of these issues. As many delegates recognize, the Appendix the Berne is widely considered a failure in terms of a global instrument. The SCCR may want to analyze why the Appendix was a failure, and what can be done to revisit this issue, and what might be possible in terms of fashioning a new global instrument that actually works, and serves the interests of developing countries to expand access to knowledge. This could include a separate agreement as was the case in the WCT.
KEI is opposed to an SCCR work program that links progress on all issues. In the area of copyright and related rights, rights holders have profited from a strategy of breaking up their proposals into separate instruments, some of which have succeeded, some of which have not succeeded. Considering the example of the WIPO IGC on genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, the Africa Group’s strategy of separating discussions of folklore, GR and TK have proven to be quite useful in moving forward the work of the IGC.
As regards the issue of access to persons who are blind or have other disabilities, KEI endorses the substantive positions of the Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Mexico, and the Africa Group, and opposes the wrongheaded proposals by the United States and the European Union to push for weak voluntary agreements that introduce new complex procedures, that risk the same failures we have seen in the Appendix to the Berne, and the paragraph 6 procedure at the WTO for access to medicines. We note that the US and the EU have made proposals that are inconsistent with their own national laws. We also note that Canada has made an appalling proposal to limit exports of works to only Canadian authors, a proposal that would lead to very restrictive access if embraced by other countries.
Thank you Chair.