Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

WIPO Director General Congratulates Nobel Prize in Literature Winner at Frankfurt Book Fair

October 15, 2019

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry congratulated Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, saying the award underlines the important role played by copyright and related rights in supporting the sustainability and independence of the arts.

Mr. Gurry shared a stage on October 15, 2019, at the opening press conference of the Frankfurt Book Fair with Ms. Tokarczuk, who was awarded her Nobel Prize in Literature on October 10, 2019.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry congratulated Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk for winning the Nobel Prize in Literature (Photo: WIPO/Fitzgerald).

“I offer my sincere congratulations to Ms. Tokarczuk for her well-deserved award of the Nobel Prize in Literature and I am honored to join her here for the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is a major annual event for the publishing industry,” said Mr. Gurry. “The Nobel Prize in Literature recognizes the critically important role that literature plays in our lives and I am pleased that the work of the World Intellectual Property Organization supports artists’ livelihoods and ability to fund their own work by ensuring a balanced and effective system of copyright and related rights.”

In comments to journalists at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Mr. Gurry described the technological and other forces driving change in the publishing industry, while underlining the continuing role played by copyright.

“Copyright has been a very enduring institution for doing two things: For providing the financial basis for cultural production and secondly, for achieving balance in the value chain, which includes authors, publishers, distributors - whether they be libraries, bookshops or indeed platforms - and consumers,” said Mr. Gurry.

“Each part of society, each part in that value chain, has an extraordinarily important role to play. And there is a mutual dependence. The models that we developed in order to distribute value across that value chain must be balanced. We must give every one of those actors the possibility of a decent economic existence and the possibility of decent access to culture and literature. So copyright is a very durable and enduring institution and it has an extraordinarily important role to play.”

During his visit to the Book Fair, Mr. Gurry also addressed the International Publishers Association Executive Committee.