WIPO SCCR, 17th Session IFJ Statement on Exceptions and Limitations to Copyright

The IFJ represents over 600 000 journalists in the world. Part of our activities includes the promotion of strong authors' rights protection for journalists. That is, the right to be named and protect the integrity of our works and receive equitable remuneration when journalistic content is being used.

According to WIPO International Treaties, journalists enjoy a series of exclusive rights (reproduction, distribution, communication to the public...) over the content they create. According to WIPO Treaties, exceptions and limitations to copyright must be decided at national level subject to the 3-steps-test.

We believe that the situation, as it is, complies well with the necessity to strike a balance between the interests of right holders and those of content users.

At a time where journalism faces a major crisis, where many journalists and other creators struggle to make a living, where the same material is being used on different formats and copied without any additional fees being paid, we believe that asking for strong enforcement of IP rights is not a lame request. And we believe that a discussion over the possibility to set mandatory exceptions at international level is not appropriate when those who create the content do not enjoy full protection of their rights.

Voluntary agreements already exist. They are, in our view, a better solution to allow for exceptions and limitations and ensure remuneration for authors. Statutory exceptions have the disadvantage that they remain static: voluntary agreements can be updated more easily than laws if developments in society or technology make changes necessary.

In Denmark for instance, an agreement between right holders and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation allows for the broadcaster's archive material to be made available to the public on the internet.The voluntary agreement entered into between the representative parties was achievable because there is a general clause in Danish intellectual property law extending such voluntary agreements to cover non-represented rights holders.

The recent settlement between Google and US associations of authors and book publishers for the online scanning of books is another example of how voluntary agreements are made possible.

News information must circulate. We must guarantee the public's right to know and users' access to media. But we must ensure that those who create news information receive a fair remuneration for it. We believe that WIPO delegations should encourage right holders to agree on voluntary agreements to provide for a more flexible approach that would combine exceptions and limitations for users with appropriate remuneration for creators.