Creating, Protecting, and Providing Access to Digital Culture

3 September 2014 - A Workshop on Other in Istanbul, Turkey

Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions

1. The overwhelming size of born-digital material created every single day raises several challenges. How do we preserve it? How do we provide access to it? How do we maintain the balance among various stakeholders?

2. Challenges include legal, technological and economic issues. Copyright plays an important role and without appropriate limitations and exceptions, libraries and archives face barriers in delivering their service, notably in preserving born-digital material.

3. The three step test principle enshrined in the current international legal framework provides some flexibility for governments to establish their own limitations and exceptions at the national level. Some national legislations do take into account needs of the libraries, others could be improved, especially in light of the challenges posed by the digital environment.

4. Member States at WIPO are currently discussing a proposal for an international legal instrument to create a minimum standard of limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives at the international level. An updated version of the Study on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries and Archives (2008), by Professor Kenneth Crews is expected to be released in December 2014 in the context of the 29th session of the standing Committee on Copyright and related Rights (

5. IFLA and information professionals working in Africa made a strong call for a legally binding international treaty.

6. Digital preservation, legal deposit of electronic material, text and data mining, e-lending, and the relationship between contracts and limitations and exceptions were among the main points discussed during the session.

7. Museums should be considered as possible beneficiaries of limitations and exceptions, as long as they fit within the purpose of those provisions.

8. Solutions to some of those challenges exist at the national level; notably collective licensing. Libraries see them as possible solutions in the short-term, but note that they cannot address the issue from a global perspective, particularly when considering information sharing across borders.

9. Where exceptions and limitations with a broad scope are implemented, the establishment of a remuneration right could be one way of balancing the interests of rights holders and users.

10. A proposal for creating a legal file-sharing system based on licensing or a levies-system was also lively discussed.

Conclusions drawn from the workshop and possible follow up actions

1, There is a broad agreement on the need for limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, enabling them to perform their fundamental services in the digital environment; however governments are not ready to agree on which is the right way to achieve this goal at the international level.
2. Technology plays a crucial role in this debate. Lack of interoperability is considered a problem by most stakeholders.
3. Cross border uses and digital preservation are the major issues in the born-digital material debate.
4. Debate on the creation, preservation, distribution and access to born-digital content touches upon a number of public interests, vested by many stakeholders. Yet when considering the needs of cultural institutions charged with preserving the historical and cultural record, all parties should strive to avoid conflation of these issues with ongoing discussions regarding the illegal sharing of digital content. The topic shall remain in the agenda of future initiatives.

Estimation of the overall number of participants present at the workshop


Estimation of the overall number of women present at the workshop

about half of the participants were women

Extent to that the workshop discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment

was one of the main theme of the workshop

A brief summary of the discussions in case that the workshop addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment


Reported by

Stuart Hamilton