Enabling Creativity in the Digital Environment: Copyright Documentation and Infrastructure

October 13 and 14, 2011 – WIPO, 34, chemin des Colombettes, Geneva, Room A

The Conference on Copyright Documentation and Infrastructure is being organized in the framework of the Development Agenda Thematic Project on Intellectual Property (IP) and the Public Domain. The two day event will bring together representatives of governments, national and international public institutions, academics and other stakeholders involved in the copyright industries to address the increasing importance of copyright documentation and infrastructure. The goal of the conference is to raise the awareness of Member States on the linkage between copyright infrastructure and development and to highlight the complexities underlining a vast variety of key issues, including public registration and legal deposit systems, private documentation systems, online licensing tools and practices and the interrelation between copyright infrastructure and access to knowledge.

During its third session in 2009, the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) discussed the increasing importance of the linkage between IP and preserving the public domain. Identifying subject matter that has become part of the public domain, and preventing subject matter in the public domain or under a common or communal proprietorship from misappropriation, is a key challenge for firms, individual creators and Member States worldwide. In the area of copyright, uncertainty over the ownership and status of particular works may result in their not being made available to the public, even where no living person or legal entity claims copyright ownership, or where the owner has no objection to such use. With respect to works of unknown authorship or in respect of which the owner cannot be identified (“orphan works”), uncertainty can undermine the economic incentive to create, imposing additional costs on subsequent users/creators wishing to incorporate material from existing works into new creations. To overcome this challenge, effective tools must be made available which provide easy access to such information so that it is possible to verify the validity of relevant IP rights.

In order to address these concerns, the CDIP agreed that WIPO should undertake a series of initiatives to help Member States, particularly in developing and least developed countries, to better understand the complexity of these challenges. The conference will therefore present the information and findings WIPO has gathered through a number of initiatives during the past biennium, namely:

(i) Second Survey on Voluntary Registration and Deposit Systems,
(ii) Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain,
(iii) Survey of Private Copyright Documentation Systems and Practices

(a) Private Registries
(b) Collective Management Organization's Databases


The following conference themes will be addressed from the perspectives of business, legal practice and policy development:

1. Public Registration and Legal Deposit Systems

An increasing number of Member States have established voluntary registration and legal deposit systems for protected creative content. Those systems facilitate the exercise of copyright and related rights by providing right owners with a simple and effective means to clearly establish authorship and ownership of rights. National registration and deposit systems contain valuable information on created works, both from a legal and an economic standpoint. Registration can also help to delimit the public domain and, consequently, facilitate access to creative content for which no authorization from the right owner is needed. The information stored in national registries may also serve the public interest by providing a source of national statistics on creativity and culture. In addition, national registries and legal deposit institutions constitute valuable repositories of cultural and historical heritage, in that they represent collections of national creativity, including works and other creative contributions. Representatives of Member States will share national experiences and recent developments, highlighting the most common challenges posed by the digital environment. The [insightful] findings of the Second Survey on Voluntary Registration and Deposit Systems, conducted by WIPO in cooperation with its Member States, will also contribute to the substantive discussion in this area.

2. Private Registration and Documentation

Private copyright documentation, such as rights management information (RMI) and identifiers, may play a crucial role in building a digital environment in which information related to creative material is easily accessible to users. Uncertainty over the status of works and the broad diversity of rights [accessible] within different territories may constitute additional barriers to the proper licensing of content. In this scenario, identifiers can provide an essential support to the copyright infrastructure. For instance, collective management organizations (CMOs) need to build and maintain databases that contain information related to their associates and the repertoire they represent. In addition, it is also necessary to connect national databases to international projects that allow a greater level of interoperability and data exchange among different CMOs. Finally, the panel will provide an analysis of some of the increasingly important private registries, pointing in particular to their specifications with regard to structure and legal effects.

3. Copyright Infrastructure for Business Models Online

Accurate, automated documentation describing content and licensing conditions constitutes the basis for developing copyright-based business models in the digital environment. The digital environment also offers a multitude of different means for accessing and using creative content. As a consequence, an ever-evolving variety of content formats, business models and licenses are deployed to adapt – with increasing flexibility - to new copyright requirements. The panel will also cover good examples of initiatives already under way in this area, in particular the Global Repertoire Database and the International Music Registry – a collaboration of the worldwide music sector facilitated by WIPO which aims to facilitate licensing in the digital environment by providing easier access to reliable information about musical works and sound recordings. Leading entrepreneurs from around the globe will also showcase examples of successful infrastructure in the music, film and publishing industries.

4. Infrastructure Enabling Access to Knowledge

Open access and new licensing schemes that guarantee easier access to information and created materials are issues of increasing relevance in WIPO Committees and among other international IP fora. Tools for locating and accessing information and creative content, whether protected or in the public domain, as well as technologies for preserving digitally expressed material are among the most challenging and important areas in the field. In the digital environment, technologies for registration, location and preservation of creative works are becoming essential tools for secure, rich and user-friendly access to knowledge. There is a corresponding need for governments and other stakeholders to better understand the role of copyright in relation to those technological developments. Infrastructure may also be considered a strategic asset by policymakers in addressing issues like orphan works and the public domain.

This event is open to the general public and is free of charge. Anyone interested in attending the conference is invited to complete the online registration form.