Social Science Baha

Lecture Series

International Copyright and Domestic Exceptions: Wipo, Treaties, and the Politics of Libraries

Kenneth D. Crews
Lecture Series LXXXIV
September 3, 2015

Kenneth D. Crews
International Copyright and Domestic Exceptions: WIPO, Treaties, and the Politics of Libraries

Copyright is about books, music, movies, and software, but it is also about libraries and archives. The law is intended to encourage the creation of new works that make up the collections of libraries of all types. But the law also limits the ability of libraries to utilise copyrighted works in support of education, research, cultural preservation, and simple enjoyment by the public.

To achieve this mix of goals, copyright laws in most countries include ‘exceptions’ that allow libraries to make and share copies of works for the public benefit. However, those exceptions are often impractical and are inconsistent in their scope and application. Library exceptions are also now the subject of difficult discussions in Geneva as the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) pursues the development of possible treaty on these politically complex issues. This presentation will provide an overview of the law and examine the state of negotiations in Geneva as the law seeks to serve diverse interests and objectives.

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 To listen or download lecture in audio format


Kenneth D. Crews is an attorney, author, professor, and international copyright consultant. For more than 25 years, his research, policymaking, and teaching have centred on copyright issues of importance to education and research. He received MLS and PhD degrees from UCLA’s School of Library and Information Science.  

Professor Crews established and directed first university-based copyright office in the USA at Indiana University, where he also held a tenured law professorship. He was later recruited to establish a similar office at Columbia University, and he currently serves on the faculty of Columbia Law School. He is the author of numerous books, articles, websites, and more. His first book on the subject, Copyright, Fair Use, and the Challenge for Universities, re-evaluated understandings of copyright and fair use at universities. A subsequent book, Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators (3rd Edition, 2012), has been widely received as an insightful source for understanding copyright law.

WIPO commissioned him to analyse library copyright statutes from all 188 member countries and that study is informing current discussions in Geneva regarding possible treaty language. He has been a visiting professor in Paris, Munich, Helsinki, Bayreuth, and Cairo. He was the first recipient of the Patterson Copyright Award from the American Library Association, and has also received the Mark T. Banner Award from the American Bar Association in 2014.

(This lecture was organised on the occasion of 8th National Library Week in collaboration with Nepal Library and Information Consortium (NELIC)

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