Finnish Librarians & The WIPO Copyright Treaty

Subject: Finnish Librarians & The WIPO Copyright Treaty
From: Heikki Poroila (
Date: ma 17 helmi  1997 - 05:03:32 EET

Finnish Library Copyright Group about the new WIPO Copyright Treaty


The new WIPO Copyright Treaty will affect the Finnish legislation and
practices during the next few years. Many details in the proposal for
this Treaty worried the Finnish librarians in advance. When we now have
the results, it is possible to note that though some of the libraries'
proposals were accepted, this new treaty may change the libraries'
traditional enviroment and reduce the user rights we now have.

The processing of this new treaty has not finished. The European
Commission will soon put out its own suggestion for a new directive on
the copyright topics. Before that it is not possible to anticipate the
real consequences of the treaty. Extremely important will be the
adoption of exceptions and limitations to the copyright in the electonic
enviroment on national level. WIPO Copyright Treaty gives good
possibilities for balancing limitations, but it depends on the policy
makers in EU and in Finland, how these possibilities will be used.

The WIPO Copyright Treaty confirms – in the Agreed Statement – that the
reproduction right applies also in the electronic enviroment, as set out
in the Berne Convention. The proposal to define temporary copies as
reproduction acts was deleted in Geneva, but the EU Commission will
probably propose this again in the coming directive. The Finnish
libraries feel it very important, that the exlusive right of
reproduction is not unnecessarily extended to the world of temporary
copies and technical storage of digital information.

The WIPO Copyright Treaty contains a new exclusive right to the right
owners, the Right of Communication To The Public. The consequences of
this new right are by no means clear. Even the concept of this new right
has not yet been translated in Finnish in an appropriate way.
   The libraries feel it very important to balance the new right with as
strong exceptions and limitations, that guarantee the continuation of
traditional library services. This is why the new communication right
should be defined to apply in the electronic enviroment only. It should
also be applied only if the right owner has unambiguously stated and
reserved his or hers exclusive right.
   The libraries do not accept such interpretations of the communication
right that could lead to repeated charging of electronic information in
the library enviroment. In addition the libraries do not accept any
retroactive interpretations of the communication right, for example the
replacing of the concept of "performance right" with the "communication

The WIPO Copyright Treaty confirms that all exceptions and limitations
considered acceptable in the Bern Convention, are possible in the
digital enviroment, too. Also new limitations and exceptions appropriate
in the digital network enviroment are permitted. This paragraph will be
needed to balance the new communication right, at least.
   Since many library services are based on the exceptions and
limitations to the copyright, the careful adoption of these on the
national level is very important. It is also necessary to affect the
process in European Union in order to avoid any harmonisation that could
diminish the user rights there still are in some countries like Finland.
It is absolutely necessary for us that these exceptions and limitations
are realised in a way that guarantees the high Scandinavian level of
library services also in the future.

The WIPO Copyright Treaty leads to a new round of legislative work. Some
traditional user rights may be endangered in this process. The
extensions to the copyright (reproduction and communication to the
public) may change the balance of different rights. The libraries feel
that it is absolutely necessary, on the level of legislation, to take
care of this balance recognized also in the preamble of the WIPO treaty.
   Legislation officials and policy makers in national parliaments are
basically responsible for this, but the citizens should stay awake, too.
A solution that is reasonable and fair to both the right owners and the
users, is the best solution for the whole society.

The Finnish Library Copyright Group

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