Welcome Remarks By Chief Executive, IPOS, at WIPO Regional Seminar For The Asia and the Pacific Group On Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Educational and Research Institutions in the Field of Copyright
Ms Sylvie Forbin, Deputy Director General, Copyright and Creative Industries Sector, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Distinguished delegates and friends from Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations from across Asia and the Pacific and beyond
Professors Kenneth Crews, Daniel Seng, Yaniv Benhamou, Raquel Xalabarder,
Fellow speakers, fellow participants
Ladies and gentlemen
- Good morning. It is my honour to welcome all of you to Singapore.
- As we begin this morning, I would first like to thank the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for their efforts in organising this Regional Seminar. We deeply appreciate the work of Deputy Director General Sylvie Forbin, Senior Counsellor of the Copyright Law Division, Ms Geidy Lung, as well as Director Denis Croze and Deputy Director Candra Darusman of the WIPO Singapore Office. We express our appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well, for their cooperation in organising this Regional Seminar under the Singapore Cooperation Programme.
- Our thanks also to our very gracious hosts, the National Library Board (NLB), for providing us with this stunning venue, and your strong support for the organization of our Seminar.
- April is a lively time for our intellectual property (IP) community, with the World Intellectual Property Day celebrated just last Friday on the 26th of April. This Seminar is one of the many activities that my Office, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), has been involved in organising to celebrate World IP Day.
- We are especially delighted to be hosting this seminar, which is the first of three regional seminars outlined in the Action Plans on Limitations and Exceptions adopted in SCCR/36 in June 2018. We are pleased to be able to build on the good work and progress achieved at the last few SCCR sessions, including the typologies and studies prepared by the experts who are here with us today. Let me at this point of time thank the Professors – Professor Crews, Professor Seng, Professor Benhamou and Professor Xalabarder – as well as Dr David Sutton, who prepared the background paper on archives and copyright – for their generous contributions to the body of knowledge that we have and that will certainly inform our discussions over the next two days.
- At the SCCR session earlier this month, one the most often repeated themes when discussing limitations and exceptions was that of “balance”. How do we, as Members and as a region, prioritise the sometimes conflicting interests of different stakeholders? – authors, publishers, users, educators, students, creators, etc. What sort of exclusive rights and activities might we need an exception for? What sort of safeguards, provisions and processes might be put in place to resolve and address these conflicting interests?
- These are the sort of perennial questions that we face whenever we consider copyright policy, whether 40 years ago when the Berne Convention was last amended, or now, when cross border and digital issues have come to the forefront, and whether at a domestic or an international level.
- In Singapore, this objective of striking the right balance in copyright law has strongly informed our national law reform efforts. In fact, in Singapore, we call this the “goldilocks approach” to law-making—we want our laws to be neither too hot, neither too cold, just at the right place, at the right time, at the right temperature. Based on this “goldilocks approach”, our copyright review has also been built on an extensive, open and inclusive public consultation process that gathered close to 100 formal submissions and more than 280 online feedback forms from an entire range of stakeholders. As you can imagine, these stakeholders – some of whom are represented by the Observers here with us today – have different perspectives, interests and priorities, and the challenge has always been to fairly accommodate all these considerations, all these views, where appropriate. How do we do that?
- I want to spend to a little bit of time sharing with you a couple of things that we have done in Singapore, to show how we have tried in our own way to address these issues in a nuanced manner.
Allowing access to and use of materials by educational institutions, educators and individuals
- Let me start by looking at the issue of access to and use of materials by educational institutions, educators and individuals. One of the themes explored by Professor Seng in his typology analysis of limitations and exceptions for education is the access to or use of materials by educational institutions, educators and individuals. In particular, the typology invites one to consider limitations and exceptions for certain educational activities that would be affected by the use of digital format or Internet resources.
- When Singapore undertook its Copyright Review, we took into consideration the changing learning environment in schools, as educators and students now have unprecedented access to digital materials such as online publications, blogs, videos and photos. The modes of access or use of such materials is also changing: teaching methods now involve e-learning, student-directed and peer-to-peer learning.
- In order to facilitate the access and use of these online materials and new modes of learning, Singapore has proposed in its Copyright Review paper—that was released in January this year—to introduce a narrow, purpose-based education exception for online works.
- However, this exception will be subject to certain limits. First, it will not apply if the works are accessible only via paid subscription—it will only apply to online works that are accessible without the need for payment at the time of access. Second, use must be in the course of an activity that has an educational purpose, such as giving or receiving educational instructions. Third, the activity must at least be in connection with a not-for-profit educational institution. Fourth, the permitted uses are limited to reproduction, adaption or communication of an online work. We hope that these will ensure that a balance is maintained between rights holders and users of these works.
Web-harvesting initiative for libraries and archives in Singapore
- The next issue I would like to share about is web-harvesting for libraries and archives in Singapore. In relation to libraries and archives, one of the themes explored in Professor Crews’ library typology is the preservation of works and how digital technology would change the way in which preservation can be done. Dr Sutton, in his background paper on archives and copyright, also talks about the challenges involved in mass digitization projects, and observed that many rights holders are generally happy to grant permission for the use of their works when requested.
- In Singapore, our libraries and archives are both under the same institution, the National Library Board (NLB). Just last year, the NLB Act and the Copyright Act were amended to give the NLB the powers to collect Singapore-related material in electronic form. This will include born-digital materials such as e-magazines, as well as “Singapore websites”, which are defined as websites under the .sg domain and websites whose content is considered to hold significant cultural or heritage value to Singapore. This would allow the NLB to carry out its function of acquiring and maintaining a comprehensive collection of library materials relating to Singapore and its people.
- In line with international practice, the NLB will only collect material from websites which are publicly accessible and not from those which are password-protected or restricted to members or subscribers. Such web harvesting will only be done once a year, although selected official websites may be harvested more often.
Extending limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives to museums and galleries in Singapore
- The next area I want to talk about is extending limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives to museums and galleries in Singapore. Besides libraries, archives and educational and research institutions, museums have been identified as another potential beneficiary of limitations and exceptions for copyright. Museums perform an important function in preserving a nation’s culture and heritage. As we can see this from the disastrous fire at the national museum of Brazil just last year, museums play a critical role in a country’s national social and cultural fabric.
- In line with this function, one of the themes explored by Professor Benhamou in his typology analysis on copyright exceptions is the preservation of works in museums in order to prevent the deterioration or loss of precious and fragile works of art. Another theme that he explores is that of making copies of works by users for the purpose of study and research. Professor Benhamou also notes that while there is a lot of alignment between the institutions and the artist in wanting to preserve the works, only 50 countries provide for such exceptions, and there is a lot of legal uncertainty because the scope of the exception varies widely from one country to another.
- Singapore recognises this uncertainty faced by museums and galleries and will thus extend the same exceptions that we have for libraries and archives to museums and galleries as well, at least in relation to the preservation of works and the ability to make available copies of works for research and study. Our Copyright Review consultation revealed that most of the respondents agreed that museums and galleries should have such exceptions given their socially beneficial functions.
- Beyond the exceptions for preservation, research and study, Singapore will also be enacting a new exception to the right of reproduction for museums and galleries for the purposes of exhibition and exhibition-related materials—which is critical for outreach—as long as there is no commercially available copy and any reproduction is not a reasonable substitute for the work. This is also an issue that has been highlighted by Professor Benhamou in his studies.
- Moving away from these specific examples, I thought I would spend a little bit of time sharing some common themes that we observed during our Copyright Review.
Technology – opportunities and challenges for the copyright community
- One theme that overarches and cuts across libraries, archives, museums and galleries is that of technology. All around the world, advances in technology are creating opportunities but also posing challenges for all copyright stakeholders, whether you are a creator, consumer or policy-maker. Due to these new technologies, the work of libraries, archives and museums, as well as of educational and research institutions, is evolving. Each of the typologies which is dedicated to each of these subjects exorts us to consider how to address the issue of born-digital works, digitized works, and the use of digital technology to preserve or make available works of cultural and historical importance.
- The Internet is also another recurrent theme as it requires legislators to consider the opportunity it presents for memory institutions across the world to engage in collaborative processes to better provide access to knowledge to their users worldwide. However, it also presents a challenge as it allows infringing works to flow across borders much more easily, given the ease of reproducing a work and the widespread availability of the Internet.
The mission of policy-makers: striking a balance
- Now, all these considerations and factors put on policy-makers the onus to undertake efforts to understand these new dynamics, and consider the right balance—the “goldilocks zone’’—to strike between the needs of different stakeholders.
- In Singapore, we embarked on extensive public consultations for our copyright review in an attempt to address these recurrent themes as well as other domestic concerns on the limitations and exceptions to copyright protection. I have also outlined some of the responses Singapore has given to some of these topics.
- Whilst this might serve as inspiration for discussions, it is important to bear in mind that what may be good for one country may not be necessarily at the right place and the right time for another country. The mission of a policy maker of a country is to understand the domestic circumstances and pick what is suitable for the country at the right time.
- At the same time, some of the issues which are faced by all countries may be similar, for example, in relation to cross-border uses. For example, Professor Xalabarder has noted that there are specific territoriality challenges for online activities in the realm of education, where an enrolled university student in Country A can access course content via the intranet even though the university is located in Country B. There may be value in developing common responses to some of these issues at an international level.
- In conclusion, to strike the right balance in our copyright systems, the copyright community must come together, as we have today, to continually “crowdsource” for solutions. I hope that this Regional Seminar will be a wonderful example of such a shared effort.
- I hope that a collaborative spirit will characterise our discussions over the next two days, and that we will have fruitful outcomes from this Regional Seminar, not only for our work in the SCCR, but for the greater benefit of policy-makers, public institutions and citizens across the region and beyond.
- With that, I thank you for your time, and I wish everyone all the best for the two days ahead. Thank you.