Acting Registrar of the Intellectual Property Office in St. Kitts and Nevis (IPOSKN), Ms. Jihan Williams was recently part of a three- person team representing the English speaking Caribbean at the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) International Conference on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries, Archives, Museums and Educational and Research Institutions in Geneva, Switzerland.
October 18-19, IP experts, institution representatives and IP Office representatives from across the world met to discuss IP issues relating to libraries, archives, museums and educational research institutions. The English speaking Caribbean States, Haiti and Suriname were represented by Mr. Regan Asgarali, Comptroller, Trinidad and Tobago IP Office, Mr. Carden Conliffe Clarke, Deputy Registrar, IP and Commerce Office, Antigua and Barbuda, and Ms. Williams.
The Conference explored copyright legislative provisions that allow the specific institutions to copy material in certain circumstances without being liable for copyright infringement. For example, the law in St. Kitts and Nevis allows libraries and archives to copy material if it is damaged, but Ms. Williams appealed that efforts should be made and support should be given to states whose laws do not expressly mention preservation, to amend the law to allow libraries, archives and museums to copy works before they are damaged, for the sake of cultural preservation.
Jamaica was the only Caribbean country represented whose Copyright Act specifically allowed preservation copying but it was stated that in practice, it has been difficult to execute such work due to a lack of resources.
During the panel on libraries, Ms. Williams expressed efforts must be made to ensure the region’s institutions are enabled by law and practice to properly protect the cultural heritage captured in those institutions, particularly in light of the heightened exposure to disasters and the need to safeguard and share Caribbean identity.
This would require focus on strengthening the national legal frameworks to support digitization of works, building institutional capacity and ensuring that the people always have access to the material.
The conference conversations explored broad-based topics of copying, specifically to digital format to promote preservation, access, cross border sharing and private use. Mr. Regan Asgarali presented a general overview of the findings of the Caribbean’s working group in the Dominican Republic, while Ms. Williams and Mr. Clarke participated in interactive panels with experts and institution representatives on the topics of libraries and the way forward, respectively.
The international conference was convened after WIPO hosted three regional seminars with member states. One was held in Kenya for African States, one in Singapore for South East Asian and Pacific States and the final one in the Dominican Republic for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Those discussions will fuel the work of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), which is the body responsible for formulating proposals on copyright for the wider WIPO member states to consider. The SCCR will meet from Oct. 21-25. For more information on copyright and other IP in St. Kitts and Nevis, visit www.ipo.gov.kn