RLI 285  14 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2015 International Copyright Developments: From the Marrakesh Treaty to Trade Agreements Krista Cox, Director of Public Policy Initiatives, ARL W ith all of the recent domestic copyright activity relating to libraries—important fair use cases such as the Authors Guild’s litigation against HathiTrust and the review of copyright law by the US House of Representatives, the US Patent and Trademark Office, and the Copyright Office—it could be easy to overlook the important copyright policy developments occurring internationally. Many of these developments are taking place at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), including the Marrakesh Treaty for the Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled and several ongoing discussions on the topics of libraries, education, and traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. In addition to the discussions at WIPO, copyright policy is being shaped through ongoing negotiations of large regional trade agreements that contain, or are expected to contain, obligations regarding copyright. This article focuses on these recent international developments. World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is a specialized committee set up in 1998 with the intention of examining substantive areas of copyright and related rights1 and addressing harmonization of these rights. SCCR is expected to issue recommendations, developed on a consensus basis by all member states of WIPO, for consideration by the WIPO General Assembly. After the adoption in 2013 of the Marrakesh Treaty, which was led by SCCR, the committee has focused its attention on a broadcasting treaty and instruments related to limitations and exceptions for libraries and education. Marrakesh Treaty for the Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled Perhaps the most significant recent international copyright development occurred in June 2013 when WIPO adopted the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled (“Marrakesh Treaty”). After several years of negotiations, WIPO member states called for a diplomatic conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, to create a treaty that would provide minimum standards for limitations and exceptions regarding the making and distribution of accessible-format works and allow for cross-border sharing of these formats.2 Significantly, this treaty represents the first WIPO treaty directed at addressing the needs of the users rather than focusing on rights for rightsholders. The successful outcome of the diplomatic conference demonstrates the strong international will to address the lack of accessible-format works for persons who are blind or print disabled, also known as a “book famine.” Estimates place the number of accessible-format works at approximately five percent of published works in developed countries, and significantly lower in developing countries. A 2006 WIPO study found that fewer than 60 countries—less than one-third of countries worldwide—had copyright
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