SAA Representative Maher Implores WIPO to “End Borders on Knowledge”

October 25, 2019—Citing the impact of climate crises and technological obsolescence on archival collections around the world, Bill Maher, SAA’s long-standing representative to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, asked delegates, “But how can archives, libraries, and museums preserve and protect knowledge in the face of floods, wildfires, and obsolescence when our hands are tied by exclusive rights?” His statement continues:

“Some countries’ funds are so limited that they can’t even afford an archival photocopier, let alone deal with the devastation of climate disasters. For them, fee-based licenses seem absurd, especially when the vast majority of archival holdings were never in market. To make matters even worse, creators are mostly unfindable. Who, then, would receive the permissions revenue?

“The patience of the communities served by archivists has been stretched thin by WIPO’s delay. We want to do right by copyright, but ever-expanding exclusive rights threaten archivists’ mission. WIPO must provide a global policy that eliminates copyright’s current borders on knowledge and enables archivists to fulfill their crucial societal mission.

“The opponents of exceptions often say that no WIPO action is needed because existing international systems provide sufficient flexibility for countries to create exceptions for national needs. This is absurd. Is not WIPO’s purpose to provide international policy guidance? In an organization devoted to creating unified solutions, national “flexibility” rings hollow. If WIPO does not provide an international framework for communication and the preservation of knowledge, there will be chaos.

“It is time to stop the posturing and to act to end borders on knowledge.”

Read the full statement here.

View Maher’s handout to delegates here.

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SAA-Statement-SCCR39-102119.pdf289.37 KB
WIPO Flyer_Final2_101119.pdf131.71 KB