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29th Session of the WIPO SCCR: Statement on the Limitations and Exceptions for Education, Teaching, Research Institutions and Persons with Disabilities

Posted by Nehaa Chaudhari at Dec 20, 2014 01:40 PM |
At the 29th session of WIPO's SCCR, the Chair, Martin Moscoso, requested NGOs to send in their statements on limitations and exceptions for education, teaching, research institutions and persons with disabilities in writing, to be placed on the record. Nehaa Chaudhari, on behalf of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) sent in this written statement.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

As we have always maintained in the past sessions of this Committee, the Centre for Internet and Society strongly believes that everyone, regardless of borders and barriers, either physical, or those created by time, distance and costs should have access to knowledge and education.

To that end, we strongly support the proposal made by India, earlier, on continuing constructive work in this area. We also welcome the suggestion by the Indian delegation on a synthesis of these issues (facilitated by an expert, through the Chair), so that we can have a constructive discussion on these issues.

Mr. Chair, we are very mindful of the fact that there exists a very real, very demonstrable need for limitations and exceptions for education, teaching and research institutions and also for the benefit of persons with disabilities. There is also an equally crucial need to ensure that these limitations and exceptions are open ended and are appropriate for the digital environment; a conversation we believe that is imperative for Member Nations to take forward, definitely more so than one around granting a 'para-copyright' for organizations that already enjoy a great deal of protection under existing treaties, and are far less vulnerable than beneficiaries of these limitations and exceptions.

We thank the United States of America for their document- SCCR/27/8 on the Objectives and Principles for Exceptions and Limitations for Educational, Teaching and Research Institutions. We appreciate the recognition of the copyright system in the dissemination of works of authorship as well as the critical role that it plays in the promotion of educational, teaching and research objectives. We also appreciate the acknowledgement of a balance of rights and exceptions and limitations sustaining the role and activities of educational, teaching and research institutions.

However, we do believe that for a true balance to be achieved between rights and limitations and exceptions, the rights of the users of copyrighted works for the purposes of access to knowledge will have to be treated on par with those of the rights holders themselves. We believe that for this to be possible, measures will have to be taken to ensure international interoperability of limitations and exceptions and international standards suitable to address emerging and present issues of the digital environment will have to be developed. As we have submitted before this Committee earlier, it is our belief that the present international legal framework does not sufficiently address the opportunities presented by these information and communication technologies. Mr. Chair, we reiterate the need for open ended exceptions and limitations in this area, that will facilitate a cross border exchange of books and other learning material.

As a first step towards this end, we urge Member States to collaborate on and engage in substantive discussions building on existing Working Documents presently before this Committee. We look forward to an engaging discussion and providing all our complete support as we move forward on this very important agenda item.

Thank you, Mister Chair.