Copyright in Europe and beyond

This article was first published in the IFACCAACORNS newsletter.

In April, the Council of the European Union approved the Directive on Copyright in the Single Digital Market, which will soon require EU Member States to start legislating at a national level. Views on the Directive continue to be mixed – particularly around issues of freedom of expression and access – and several countries abstained or voted against the legislation. IFACCA will continue to follow the conversation closely and monitor the effects of introduced legislation on arts and cultural policies, as well as artists and cultural practitioners, in the region.

Debate on copyright reform has also been at the fore in Asia and Africa. In Japan, the Agency of Cultural of Affairs is considering proposed changes to the country’s copyright laws that are proving similarly controversial, further highlighting the challenge of both protecting intellectual property and defending free expression. In China this week, political advisors gathered to discuss revising the country’s copyright law, calling for a ‘people-oriented philosophy of development’ to address the relationship between creation, protection and use of copyright. While in South Africa the country’s Copyright Amendment Act is due to pass into law, raising concerns for some of negative consequences for the creative industries.

At a global scale, World Intellectual Property Day took place at the end of April. This year it explored the role of innovation, creativity and intellectual property (IP) rights in the development and worldwide enjoyment of sports, highlighting the priorities we share across sectors. In the same week, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) published an interview with the Director of the WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division, which provides insight into intellectual property issues and challenges particular to Indigenous Peoples, traditional knowledge and cultural expressions; the limitations of existing systems and legislation; and efforts underway to address them.

Looking forward, next month issues of intellectual property and copyright will also be explored during UNESCO’s seventh session of the Conference of Parties to the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. During the Conference, 145 countries and the European Union will examine an Open Roadmap to strengthen Parties’ capacities to promote the diversity of cultural expressions in the digital age and examine innovative policy practices. The IFACCA will be represented at the Conference, and they look forward to reporting back with relevant updates.