Latin America and Caribbean education unionists call for reforms of copyright rules for education and research

published 14 August 2019 updated 14 August 2019

Education union representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean have reiterated the call for reduced barriers linked to copyright laws in accessing materials for education, libraries, archives and museums.

Discussions took place at a seminar in Santo Domingo on 4-5  July. It was the third in a series of regional workshops organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Education International (EI) participated together with its affiliates, FAPROUSAD (Dominican Republic), CONADU (Argentina) and CNTE (Brasil). The seminar was for the purpose of discussing how copyright laws enable or create barriers to accessing works for education, libraries, archives and museums. To prepare for the event, EI published an infographic that portrays how copyright laws affect 10 educational activities in 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

After expert presentations on these issues, the group discussions were held  where education unions and others could make brief interventions and ask questions. It was similar to the event in Africa where a large number of private sector representatives such as collecting societies and publishers were present and it was a challenge for public sector representatives such as education unions, libraries, archives and museums to be heard. However, the participating education unions, together with representatives from libraries, archives and museums, made excellent contributions clearly showing why exceptions and limitations are important for their work. They challenged the claim by the private sector representatives that licensing (commercial contracts for accessing works), instead of exceptions, are the better solution.

Recognition that international reforms are important

Together with representatives from Fundación Karisma, Fundacion Innovarte, the International Federation of Library Associations, the International Council on Archives and the International Council on Museums, EI shared what challenges teachers and researchers face and offered a number of solutions that could be put in place in order to improve the situation.

As in the previous regional seminars in Africa and Asia-Pacific, a number of WIPO member states (in this case, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Cuba) at two of the three discussions tables stressed that it will be important to advance international work on copyright exceptions and limitations at WIPO. Unfortunately, as in other regional seminars the final recommendations did not reflect these views or other topics discussed in the workshops.

Currently, there exists no adequate copyright framework that facilitates the work of teachers, education support personnel and researchers when they collaborate with colleagues in other countries. This is why EI advocates an international instrument that would facilitate the work of teachers and researchers, and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 4 on quality education for all.

What’s next?

In October 2019, the recommendations of all regional seminars  ( Singapore, Nairobi and Santo Domingo) will be presented together at a global WIPO conference to be held in Geneva, Switzerland. This conference will then provide guidance to WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights on what actions will need to be taken at WIPO in the context of education, research, libraries, archives and museums. Attending this event together with member organisations and allies, EI will push for WIPO to use this opportunity to address the challenges raised during the regional seminars and facilitate the development of an international copyright framework to empower teachers and researchers to make a fair use of works for teaching, learning and research.