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Limitations and Exceptions

In order to maintain an appropriate balance between the interests of rightsholders and users of protected works, copyright laws allow certain limitations on economic rights, that is, cases in which protected works may be used without the authorization of the rightsholder and with or without payment of compensation.

Limitations and exceptions to copyright and related rights vary from country to country due to particular social, economic and historical conditions. International treaties acknowledge this diversity by providing general conditions for the application of limitations and exceptions, leaving national legislators to decide if a particular limitation or exception is to be applied and, if it is the case, to determine its exact scope. With the development of new technologies and the ever increasing worldwide use of the Internet, there has been extensive discussion about how limitations and exceptions apply in the digital environment, including when content crosses borders.

The WIPO Standing Committee for Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) has been addressing the issue of limitations and exceptions to copyright since 2004 and has been addressing limitations and exceptions to copyright for libraries and archives, educational and research institutions, and persons with other disabilities at every session since 2012. The SCCR developed and implemented extensive Action Plans on limitations and exceptions in 2018-19, culminating in an International Conference on Copyright Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries, Archives, Museums and Educational and Research Institutions.

Studies and Reports

In recent years, including as part of the 2018-19 Action Plans, the Secretariat has arranged for a number of studies and reports mapping limitations and exceptions in various jurisdictions. These studies were presented to Members and Observers during various sessions of the SCCR. They provide an overview of the nature and diversity of statutory provisions in the copyright law of WIPO member states with respect to copyright limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives, educational and research institutions, and persons with other disabilities.