Advocacy on the World Stage with IFLA’s Stephen Wyber

Advocacy on the World Stage with IFLA's Stephen Wyber

Find the “Get Into WIPO” Guide here.


Hi, welcome to another episode of Copyright Chat. Today we’re talking all things SCCR. We’ll explain what that means in a second with Stephen Wyber from IFLA. Welcome, Stephen.


Hi, Sara.


Thanks for being here. And, um, I wanted to give you a chance to introduce yourself a little bit and what your role is with. So, SCCR is a standing committee on copyright and related rights, of course, at the World Intellectual Property Organization or WIPO. We probably will use some acronyms throughout here because saying SCCR, WIPO, it can be a mouthful, but <laugh>, I’ll let you introduce yourself.


We’ll try and be disciplined. So I come from another acronym, IFLA, um, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. My job is director for Policy and advocacy, but actually WIPO, SCCR, copyright, that’s sort of my home. That’s where I started with IFLA. So I, in my job, I oversee what we try and do at IFLA at the international level to make the case for the sorts of laws, the sorts of policy environment, but libraries really need to succeed.


Yeah, and I’ve been attending IFLA, this will be my third meeting, I believe, as head of the delegation for, um, this, I’m sorry, I’ve been attending WIPO. It’s my third and, uh, third meeting coming up in April. And I, I wanted to give you a chance to explain to our readers why we go, why does IFLA think it’s important to attend these meetings at Wipo? Why is copyright so important internationally?


So thank you very much. And just say, obviously for us, we we’re thrilled, that you’re on board and, and, and that you are leading our delegation there. So I guess, I know, I’m really conscious with, with copyright full stop, that it’s one of those issues that is often portrayed as being conflictual. It’s often portrayed as being complex. And where there’s really not a great payoff in terms of, I know it’s high effort, low impact, but in fact, for us, I know copyright, it’s one side of the same coin. It’s funding copyright is the thing that determines probably more than anything else what we can do with the resources, with the materials that we hold in our collections. It’s absolutely determinant of how well we can provide access to information. And in particular, it applies internationally because in a world of the internet where users coming to the library, they don’t really care where the information comes from.

Is it from within your country? Is it from internationally? And all they care is being able to get it. But clearly, if copyright isn’t working, and if copyright isn’t working at the international level, then this makes the ability of libraries to meet users’ expectations really difficult. And so, I suppose coming on to just that, that question of the, the relative levels, I know that when we think about advocacy within if flow, we see it very much as a multi-level thing. Now we are really clear the most important decisions about libraries are taken at the national level, at the state level, and the US at the local level. Crucial decisions about funding, about staffing, about what you’re able to do, the partnerships you can form, uh, and of course, the national level in particular, that’s copyright that applies. But crucially, copyright acts within a system. Many countries don’t have complete freedom in defining their own copyright laws.

They have to fulfill, if they want to work internationally, they have to work within the bounds, within the boundaries created by international law, and in particular, the Berne convention from 1886. I hope I haven’t got that wrong. Um, and also in more recent texts, I, by copyright treaties and others. And these set down crucially both minimum standards, protections that countries should put in place to protect right holders. And these aren’t necessarily the authors. It’s often the people who bought the rights or obliged the right authors to sell to, to hand over their rights. But this provides minimum protections. And through this, it aims to say that, well, if you produce a book, if you write a book in the us, you can be sure that your, your work will get the same protection, for example, in the UK as it would as a British order.

Now, the problem with this though, is that because you have these international, these international standards, they aren’t, however, accompanied by international standards when it comes to the exceptions to copyright those provisions in law that set out what it is that libraries are allowed to do without having to ask permission, without having to pay money for things like preservation, for supporting research, for supporting education. And so, crucially, what we need to do is, firstly, at the international level, it’s making clear that it’s okay, and it’s actually a really good idea to make use of the possibilities that exist, to have exceptions and limitations. Because otherwise, unless there’s support, unless there’s that demonstration that that proof, that reassurance that countries can put in place exceptions to copyright, then they’re not necessarily going to have the time or the effort to do it. We shouldn’t forget that a lot of copyright offices in many countries, it’s two, three people maximum.

They’re really small. They need the guidance, they need the reassurance that an organization like WIPO can provide. In saying that, yes, you should have these exceptions, this is good. This is in line with the law. And crucially, of course, by doing it, you also allow for a measure of harmonization so that when a library wants to work with a colleague, a library in another country, for example, to preserve a shared collection, to support research collaboration to children in a classroom, teachers in a classroom, to work together, to draw materials from other countries, by having these sorts of minimum standards that opens up the possibility to actually work together without the fear, without the concern, without the complexity, without the uncertainty of whether actually simply by working with a colleague in another country, by trying to do with a colleague in another country, what you can already do at home.

You’re not risking breaking the law yourself, and you’re not risking your colleague in the other country, breaking the law. Now, unconscious, this all sounds very broad, very high level, but actually we have an example, the Marrakesh Treaty. And this was brought in ’cause simply it was possible for countries to have exceptions that would allow libraries, would allow people with print disabilities to create accessible format, copies of work that was possible under the law. But far too few countries were actually doing it. And that was leading to a book famine where barely 10% of works in richer countries were accessible for people with print disabilities and only 1% for people in poorer countries. So while it was possible, it took a treaty to make something happen, to give that impetus. And now we’ve seen over 120 countries around the world passing the treaty, ratifying it, signing up to it, allowing this to happen.

And of course, by doing it, they’ve also facilitated sharing of works across borders. So I’m conscious it’s been a long answer and do challenge me on it, Sara, but crucially, the international level matters because it sets a context, it sets a framework in which national decisions about this really vital area of law for libraries, copyright are set. And it also, it’s the only place where we can make clear, where we can underline that it is possible to work across borders for libraries, for archives, for museums, for educators, for researchers to cooperate with colleagues elsewhere without the fear of breaking the law.


Yeah, and I think you brought up quite a few good points. And one of the things that I learned early on in my career as a copyright librarian, actually, we had someone visiting from the Public Knowledge Project, and they mentioned that in, in South America, they don’t have interlibrary loan in many of their laws. And so therefore, um, open access publishing was really flourishing because authors really needed to have access to other research. And the only way they could do that was through open access publishing because their libraries could not borrow from each other. And in, in the United States, we take it such for granted that we can engage in, you know, all sorts of collaborative loans and, um, interlibrary loaning and consortium agreements and things like this. Um, but you know, that was based on our copyright laws. And I think a lot people take that they forget that connection and that crucial connection, because without that, without Section 108 of our copyright act, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.

And we take, we just, we almost take it for granted in the United States. And I think another thing that maybe wasn’t on people’s radar, and it certainly wasn’t as much a forefront on mine, was the, the access for folks with disabilities to print material, right? We take it for granted that, oh yeah, everyone can read this book. Well, if you are visually impaired or you have a physical impediment where you can’t lift up the book or something of that sort, you really can’t read. And so, even if books are available otherwise through your library, if they’re not available in a format in which you can read them, and the key there is the copyright, right? Because you cannot otherwise make the copy of the book to then put it in a screen reader, um, accessible copy. And so again, folks didn’t really get that connection, I think, between copyright and disability rights, that is so clear now that Marrakesh has passed.

And I think to me, that’s one of the best examples of what we can do on the international scene if we come together internationally and every nation and really advocate for our patrons. And it really has been a nice thing to see. This was the 10th anniversary, uh, recently of the Marrakesh, um, treaties passage. And we had a lot of celebrations, but I also heard a lot of touching stories from people who, um, grew up not being able to read. I mean, it just seems, you know, one woman said her mother was reading her, her, her, her books from grad school. I can just imagine my poor mother trying to <laugh> read my law books with me, you know, <laugh>. And it is just, it just sounded so sad to me that someone would have to go to all the, you know, their mother would have to sit there for hours and hours reading with them. And also just as a mom myself, it was so touching, right? Because I know if that were my child, I would do the same thing. But, but you shouldn’t have to. You should not have to. Those barriers are really for many insurmountable, right? Not everybody has their mother who would do that and can do that and can spend the time to do that.


Absolutely. And if there’s ever a piece of law that needed inequalities impact assessment, um, it’s probably the Berne convention. It’s pretty certain that when some of these principles were put into place, there was never any belief. I don’t think anyone ever went out deliberately trying to deny people with disabilities the possibility to quit to, to, to, to access works in accessible formats. I think justice in the same way, they didn’t intend this to be a way of restricting teaching, of preventing cross-border research collaborations. ’cause we do know researchers do give up, librarians do end up having to give up on trying to help researchers work across. This was never intended. But unfortunately, copyright is designed in an extremely maximalist way. It, it, it, it’s crazy that it lasts for life plus 70 years in so many countries, but it’s been designed in a way that just lends itself to market failures.

And so that’s why it’s so important to have exceptions. And I think in particular, again, looking at this international aspect, providing the tools that reassurance to countries that they can have exceptions, I, I think we know and very easy for a British person to, to say mean things about the us. But we know that organizations like the Motion Picture Association have this horrifically negative impact on copyright reforms elsewhere, threatening governments with the whole negative consequences of what happens if they introduce exactly sorts of laws that exist in the US that exist in Europe. And yet when African countries try to do this, they get told it’s the end of the world. They get told everything’s going to go up in flames and so on. And this is clearly not true, but that’s why it’s so important to have this international engagement. So we can also help these governments give them the security that no, actually helping people with print disabilities, helping students, helping researchers, just no, it’s fine. And in the end, actually as, uh, as the world, and we’re trying to implement the SDGs, that those principles about knowledge sharing, that these benefit, we benefit as a world when we support education, when we support research, and when we make sure that the voices of those who purely are about profit maximization and purely about trying to eliminate the slightest risk of piracy or whatever else, that we actually have an argument that we have to work against these.


I think, um, one of the issues that really got highlighted for me recently with copyright was during the pandemic and online learning, it just seemed to be a massive challenge, right? For educators to continue what they were doing in the classroom, because it meant copying loads of materials, right, for their students, and then fear of getting sued. So it just was a very big challenge and everyone had to respond to it very quickly because, uh, of the international health crisis. Um, and I wonder if you can highlight a few of the things that are, you think are the most pressing issues coming up. We have a meeting of the SCCR this April, and, um, I know we’re having ongoing conversations about many issues, and I wonder if you can highlight some of the things that maybe we should be paying attention to as librarians, um, that might be going on at this meeting.


Thank you. So I, I think, no, there’s, so the way that these meetings are structured is that there is a, there are two big substantive items on the agenda always. Um, there’s broadcasting, which I will come back to, and there’s a big item on exceptions and limitations for libraries, archives, museums, education and research, and for, for the benefit of people with other disabilities. Now, on the re uh, on the exceptions and limitations agenda, we’ve seen some really positive pro progress. Recently, for many years, there was simply no progress because us, because the European Union rich countries, which have pretty good frameworks for exceptions and limitations, which do pretty well by their researchers, by their educators, by their anyone in their, by their citizens in general. But these countries were holding bad. They didn’t want lip to actually do anything. And this was partly because, um, they didn’t, I dunno, they were scared or they were worried about having to change their own laws, which clearly getting things through Congress, getting things through parliament isn’t particularly easy.

But I think sadly, a lot of it was built on this idea that somehow developing countries couldn’t be trusted to implement exceptions and limitations. And, uh, or they’ve just been told that, well, if you put in place exceptions, limitations developing countries will just steal all your stuff. And these are really horrible, horrible arguments. Incredibly patronized, incredibly colonial to suggest that simply a developing country can’t be trusted in this way, this way. And of course, we know that a lot of the arguments came from the case made by right holders who were arguing that we don’t, I know if you open things up, I know create a treaty and it’s a thin end of the wedge. And exceptions and limitations are the same thing as piracy. I don’t know this, this, this sort of complete rubbish. Now, fortunately, we’ve got a little bit better on this.

There’s an acceptance that WIPO does have a role, at least in talking about these issues and thinking about maybe forms of guidance or toolkits or things like that. And I think that that’s a positive thing. I think hopefully we’ve got outta the, the, the long period, sadly, after the Marrakesh Treaty where food at the US and the EU felt a bit burnt, like they felt like they’d been a little bit cornered on Marrakesh and were really resistant to change. Hopefully we’re moving outta that and get into a more constructive stage. Now, the areas that there’s particular focus on at the moment, a particularly interesting one for libraries is around preservation. And this matters, and I think it’s a particularly pressing thing because preservation and climate change are issues that really go hand in hand. We know with climate change, we’re seeing more frequent extreme weather events, more floods, more fires, more storms, more extreme rainfall, rainfall, et cetera.

And this of course, we see every year then collections that are lost, collections that are flooded. And what’s really sad, and the example of the Jagger library at the University of Cape Town was a good example of this. There were so many materials in there which got burnt, but which they could, it wasn’t possible. It wasn’t, it wasn’t made simple to preserve them, to take digital copies because South Africa still hadn’t got around to updating its copyright law. Now, this preservation, we need it, it’s part of adaptation to climate change. We’re not going to be able to save everything, but at least if we can save the content, we avoid, we, we at least have one step to prevent people from becoming alienated from their past, from becoming alienated, from their heritage, from losing those key cultural rights, by preserving things. Another good example, the National Library of Tuvalu.

Now this is a matter of feet from sea level. They know very well there’s an existential threat to their country in the coming years if climate change continues. Now, the only way through here is by actually digitizing the collection, by making sure that the people of Tuvalu can continue to access this. This requires preservation, this requires copying. It’s a copyright issue. And this most likely requires working between countries, forming networks in order to make sure that even if we can’t stop, we can’t stop the ese effects of climate change. At least we can stop this really deep scar being held, caused by the loss of this heritage. And so, and that’s really one of the key issues for us at the moment on the SCCR agenda. How can we advance this work? How can we build this, what should be absolutely consensual issue?

That at the international level, there’s an agreement that in every country preservation, in whatever form is necessary across borders, through collaboration is possible. And that there, and that on this basis, using these preserved copies, libraries can continue to fulfill their mission from always of providing access to heritage, of allowing people to fulfill their cultural rights, support research, support education. So that’s obviously a, a really key one for us right now. In addition to that, there’s some really interesting work going on around research. What can we do, especially digital research, in order to enable newer forms of research, text and data mining, for example, how can we make sure that research can take place across borders, again, in line with sustainable development goals? And we know that cross-border research tends to be more effective. It tends to have a greater impact. There’s work going on around cross-border issues in particular.

And in fact, there’s going to be, uh, an online workshop next month looking at how you can address these and what are the challenges around copyright here. Um, and then finally, there’s also work around education. And I think once again, drawing on some of those really positive examples of countries like Singapore, which allow cross-border access to materials through this, the hope is to produce at least as a first stage objectives and principles. So some key ideas, some key reference points that can be used by governments in order to plan those reforms, to make it just a little bit easier to put in place laws that matter. So that, that’s broadly the exceptions and limitations side. I said there’s also work on a broadcasting treaty. There’s been work on a broadcasting treaty for well over 30 years right now. Um, and this is a, a sad example.

I I, a sad example, I fear of, um, a discussion that maybe was relevant so long ago that now has sort of lost its relevance and people are very much looking for a way to try and get rid of it or guests over the line. So originally it was very much focused, it was claimed on trying to deal with piracy of broadcast signals. The problem is now so much access to programming is through the internet. There’s relatively little taking place on broadcasting. Uh, and, and, and so there’s a lot of discussion going on about, well, what’s actually the scope of it, what’s included or not? And I think there’s also, um, while I arguably there, there, there, there, there is a legitimate reason for trying to do something about privacy, whether it’s a copyright issue or not, or whether it can be dealt with in other ways is another question.

But I think also a key thing for us is making sure that whatever rules are implemented, whatever rights are created, whatever provisions are created, they don’t come at the cost of the ability of libraries, archive museums to work with audio visual content. And so in particular, just because something has been broadcast, if a library and archive museum takes that recording, the broadcaster should not continue to have rights in this. Maybe the producer, the writer, the performers, maybe that, um, exceptions limitations should apply. But we definitely don’t want a situation where whenever a library with audio visual collections wants to use them for any purpose, they also need to talk with the broadcaster first. So that, that, that’s sort of the, that high level issues. I think maybe we’ll dig into a little bit. There’s a, a report planned on, on public lending right. Coming up. Um, and there’s also some interesting work looking into some of the copyright implications around generative AI, which I guess I know plenty of people and I know in the US right now, and it’s been similar in the EU, it’s the same in Canada, it’s the same in lots of countries. That’s quite a hot topic right now.


Yeah. And I think, um, a lot of folks probably don’t know what public lending rights are. Well, if they’re from the United States, they probably don’t. I, it was new to me when I started going to IFLA meetings because people talked about public lending rights and in the United States we don’t have them. Um, so my understanding is that it’s when an author has produced a book and it maybe a libraries lending that book, then some of that money they have to do, donate some money or give some money to a fund to compensate the author for the lending of the book. And I think that, um, this study will be interesting because, you know, libraries of course, um, many don’t necessarily think that public lending rights are a very positive thing for library lending. And the United States, we don’t worry about this ’cause we don’t have them. Um, but I know others in Canada, for instance, they do have, uh, public lending rights. And so, um, it’ll be interesting to see what the report says, whether it’s neutral, positive or negative relating to these public lending rights.


I think that that, that describes it well, and I think it, it, it’s quite a vexed question because in in, in the end, the whole concept of public lending rights is, is based on a very questionable assumption. And the, the, the assumption is that somehow libraries by lending works have a negative effect on sales. Now, firstly, libraries are not making money by lending works. So it’s not like libraries are making money off the back of authors. And I think as we know perfectly well that library lending is a driver of sales, it’s a driver of, of learning. So why this should give rise to some sort of compensation is, it’s a range argument. Now, obviously, it’s understood that authors a lot of the time are not particularly well paid, that far too many authors who are obliged to do other jobs at the same time that the, the share of authors who are actually able to make a living on what they’re doing is, is tiny.

Now, whether the solution to that is money that comes either from library budgets or is additional to library budgets and provided by governments, or whether there actually are far more effective ways of supporting new voices, of interesting voices of diverse voices. That’s, I dunno, I think that’s where we have questions. And I think in particular, and I think that’s one of the problems that we’ve certainly had with this, this, this concept with the study in the first place, is it’s very much driven by a focus on developing countries and this idea that somehow it’s in developing countries that we need to develop public lending, right? And sadly, these are countries where so often libraries don’t even have an acquisitions budget. They’re entirely dependent, they’re huge, they’re hugely dependent on donations on books that have been given. And so why it would make sense to have a public lending, right?

That really comes at the risk of taking away this budget when actually a simply, I know a democratically created a properly accountable cultural policy could be more effective. Yeah. It, it, it, it, it doesn’t really make sense. We know of one country that has the laws in place for a public lending, right, Malawi, but they haven’t done anything about it. And so, to be honest, and I think this is one of the challenges we have with WIPO, and it’s one of the reasons why I think it’s so important that libraries are there in general is ’cause otherwise, like within avenue, like with any agency, the risk is that all you hear is the voices of rights holders. All you hear is the voices of people who want to invent you rights in order to justify their existence in order to be able to collect more money from people.

And the risk is that I know, unless there’s someone there speaking up for the users talking about, well, actually the job of intellectual property, it’s not to make money for people. The job of intellectual property is like any public policy to make for fair and more sustainable societies. We need people there to make that point, send that message. And of course, libraries, archives, museums are good at that. But I think this work on public lending rights, to be honest, it feels very much like it’s an opportunity just to create new rights to be administered. Um, it’s outta place, it’s extremely, so we want to see what comes out of it, but I think certainly we, we, we, we will be resisting any idea that public lending rights should be any sort of priority for countries which fundamentally need to actually invest in their libraries in the first place.


Yeah. I also think it’s interesting because the, when I think about library lending, at least public library lending, many people who really are heavy users of the public library are people who can’t otherwise afford to purchase books. And so then you’re almost saying, well, the poorest of our society are the problem <laugh>. It’s like they’re actually maybe not even the same people who would be buying the books, right? So, I mean, I almost think it, it, there, there’s a service being provided by libraries, but also to everyone, but also to sometimes the most needy, needy people. And, and then we’re saying, well, those people should be, they’re, they’re somehow we’re not capitalizing on their purchase of the book to the author. It, it doesn’t add up to me <laugh>. Um, so I, I’m, again, we don’t have it in the United States, so to me it’s always been a little bit of a foreign concept.

Um, but I will be, yes, I agree that I will be interested to see what the report says and how we can respond as libraries to say that, um, you know, libraries should be lending without further costs because it’s already quite expensive to lend books and to preserve books and to run a library. Uh, it’s not, it’s not, it’s not free by any means. And, um, to add additional costs if that, if that ha comes out of a library budget, I think that’s a very big problem. I know in some countries, maybe in Canada, it doesn’t come from the library budget, it comes from a separate fund. So they kind of say at least that’s a good thing that it doesn’t come from the library budget, but it still doesn’t mean that it’s justified in the end that there, that there’s any costs at all.


Exactly. And, and I think it’s the argument that we’ve made throughout on this is that the goal we are looking at here is to support a, a, a rich and diverse, um, inflow. Great new ideas, great new books on, on, on, on, on onto the market to enrichen the cultural space. And I think if you’re going to do that, it, it’s not entirely honest to go at that looking at just one particular tool. If we’re going to look at this, look, let’s look at it holistically. Let’s look at all of the tools that we have in order to support this, to make sure that we both have a strong reading public and that we have this great content coming into the market. And let’s look critically at, well, which of the tools that are most effective at achieving this, what’s the best way that we have for actually support supporting this inflow of, of, of diverse ideas? And of this is public lending, right? Really, does it really belong in the toolkit, especially given how problematic it is for exactly the reasons that you say with this idea that somehow it’s compensating and given the huge risk of it coming directly or indirectly from library budgets?


Yeah, and I, I think that this is a really good point, um, that we need more people to engage with us. So we, the libraries, I, I think about the American Library Association, how many members we have and, and we don’t often get mobilized as a community. Um, I think right now is a key moment in our history in the United States, at least with book banning and how really librarians have been pulling together to respond. And when we do that as a community, we are so very powerful, but it’s very hard to mobilize all of us, right? Because we’re very different. We have public libraries, we have school libraries, we have academic libraries, we have private libraries. We, I mean, librarians aren’t, aren’t all the same. And I think that’s one of our strengths. And of course we have archives as well and we have museums as well.

Um, but I think, I think it would be really helpful and we’d really like to see more voices joining us, joining IFLA, um, on the international stage as well. Because, you know, as Steven was pointing out, we have, we have a small group of us, the, we call ourselves the Lambs Library archives and museums. And we are very powerful when we come together. But the more voices we can bring, the better. Um, and so I would really encourage people to start following what’s going on a little bit more, um, and to kind of add your voice to the mix at, um, the World Intellectual Property Organization in any way that Stephen and I can help you do that. We are very happy to do that. Um, I’ll let Stephen jump in.


Thank you so much for, for, for bringing me onto this because I think this is, I think this is absolutely a crucial point. And, and this is for, for a number of reasons. Now, a first one is, um, I know organizations like a LA, organizations like ifla, organizations like Indian Library Association, the Indonesian Library Association, where wherever you want, have this incredible legitimacy because whereas a major publishing company or a collecting society or whoever else is based in a big steel and glass building in the center, the, the richest city in the country of the capital, we are in every community. And, and we are the ones who do our work through our members. We see what happens when copyright stands in the way. We have legitimate stories. And I’d certainly encourage every time that someone is frustrated by copyright, when you’re not allowed to do something ’cause of copyright, and in particular when you’re not allowed, or when you feel blocked or prevented from working with colleagues across borders ’cause of copyright, don’t see this as a defeat.

See, this is a war story. This is something that can be useful, that can be powerful, that can demonstrate why it matters. And this is particularly important actually in in developed countries, which countries, I’d say and think in particular, those countries that tended to block reform. ’cause they find it very easy to say, well, everything’s fine with us. We don’t need to change. So we have no interest in doing this. We don’t trust the developing countries. If we can show, if we can find examples of how our students, our researchers, our users are being blocked from what they need to do by copyright, then that’s actually a case that brings something to the table. And we have that sort of crucial legitimacy of being everywhere, of actually being in every community, being able to represent that experience. Um, a second reason why this matters is because WIPO is a member state led organization.

And, and so I, I think I know when we talk about everyone mobilizing, that really does mean everyone in every country. Ideally, it’s so much more powerful when it is the National Library Association that reaches out your copyright office, your foreign ministry to your delegation at the World Intellectual Property Organization, because you can actually talk from real experience. If it’s someone like Sarah, like me, we come from, we, we come from big, rich white countries in the global north. And, and, and no, in the end, in a place like that, we risk just being lobbyists. What matters is when people hear from globe, hear from their own national associations, when they hear from people who actually they speak their language, who can talk about the experience on the ground, that can be really, really powerful. Now, in terms of how you engage, obviously we’re more than happy.

We’re very happy for people to come to Geneva, but it’s also conscious that takes effort. It takes time. It’s not the cheapest place in the world, but actually you can have almost as much effect by simply going to see people, writing emails, writing letters, sharing your experience. Now we’ve just updated our, our “Get Into WIPO Guide,” which is our, our little guide to what WIPO is, what’s being talked about, what you can do there. And that gives some ideas on where you can look for people to contact, how you can get in touch, what you can share with them. We really encourage people to go out and do that. So if you need help, if you need guidance, please do get in touch with us. We can give you key messages, we can give you template letters that you can translate, that you can adapt, that you can send on.

We can give you talking points for meetings, all in the idea with the idea that hopefully then people come to WIPO and they’ll understand. When Sara, when I, when someone else goes up to talk to them, they say, well, we’ve heard from our libraries in our country, we understand your issues. We understand why WIPO can make a difference here. What can we do to help? And so there’s really that importance of let’s make the most of the legitimacy that we have. Let’s demonstrate the power, the reach, the legitimacy that we have. But let’s also use that in order to make sure that everyone who comes to WIPO has heard about libraries, understands what they need to do to support our work in turn, support, education, research, and cultural rights.


So I would just say to our listeners, you know, take this opportunity to go and look at that toolkit that, um, Steven’s talking about. I will link it from this podcast on the podcast page, take a look at it, see if you can’t identify the folks from your member state who attend the meetings and write them a note, write them a note about your experience. Um, and especially if you’ve had challenges, because I think most of us in librarianship, if we’ve done anything across borders, we’ve, we’ve come into some problems, right? We’ve, we’ve co encountered some sort of copyright barrier. Um, and so I think most of us do have these kinds of war stories to share, and they’re much more impactful if they’re coming from librarians who are on the ground who are really facing these issues. In fact, in the middle of March, there’s going to be a, an a panel, uh, put on by the WIPO organizers about cross border issues in research and education.

So if you wanna highlight issues like that from your librarianship, that would be a perfect way to segue into it. Or if you wanna talk about preservation issues across borders, that’s another great issue to highlight. Um, and and I, I would challenge you to do that because we have a meeting coming up in April, and really the more voices the merrier because we really then have more, um, stories and background. And that’s what really impacts, right? If you think about telling someone, we’d like you to do this, well, they say, why? And if you tell them, here’s why I have this patron, I have this issue. And then they really start to understand the real issues, right? They understand it on the ground level. And so I, it would be really useful and helpful to IFLA if you would, um, take your own stories and communicate them with your country.

Um, and then we can, you know, hope, hopefully they would say to me, oh, I’ve heard from members of IFLA in my country, you know, and that would, that would make me so happy. There would be nothing better than to meet with someone at WIPO and have them say, oh, well my member wrote me this email or something like that, um, or even went to visit me in the Capitol. Um, all of those things are very, you, you might think it wouldn’t be an impactful, but it really, really is. It they will, they will remember because so few, so few members reach out to them, so few of their country, um, citizens will reach out and talk about these issues. And so they will remember if we start doing this. And I think it’s going to make a big, a big difference in the work that we do internationally.


Absolutely. And I think that the Marrakesh Treaty demonstrates absolutely what is possible and, and, uh, I think it is also just, I think we, I know we are conscious that I know the status quo is really not good enough. Business as usual really isn’t good enough. So we need to build up that momentum for change. And I think exactly as, as, as Sarah has said, showing what’s not going, showing how business as usual is not acceptable, showing how the situation we have today is just not good enough and how that’s actually leading to real human problems that can make a big difference.


Well, thank you so much, Stephen, for joining me today. It was really fun talking through some of these issues with you. Um, I get very passionate about international issues facing libraries. I hope the listeners do too. And I hope this really prompts you to look at the guide, take some action, um, contact us, and especially if you’d like to come to Geneva, where we always would welcome more voices, um, on behalf of libraries, archives, and museums. And we’re happy to, to bring you into the fold. And, and usually what we do is we focus on, um, you know, meeting with your, your member, um, representatives. So, you know, for me, I’m from the United States. I meet with those representatives, but I also represent IFLA. So it’s kind of, that’s an international organization. So really that’s everyone, everyone, <laugh>. So I’m happy to join you and talk to your representative from your country and try to have some impact, um, with them. And, um, really, um, we just thank you for listening today. Thank you for supporting IFLA and, um, we hope that, that you learn something and that you, um, get as excited about international issues as we are. Thanks again, Stephen.


Thank you so much for your time, and I’m looking forward to seeing people in Geneva and online.