In 2005, Chile proposed that WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyight (SCCR) examine limitations and exceptions to copyright. IP Justice made a statement at the WIPO 13th SCCR meeting in November 2005 in support of Chile’s proposal to update limitations and exceptions to copyright. The WIPO SCCR has not yet given serious attention to Chile’s proposal, however the issue is on the agenda for the next SCCR (16th session), scheduled for 10 – 12 March 2008 at WIPO headquarters in Geneva.

The limitations and exceptions to a copyright holder rights are an important part of the over-all balance found in copyright law. Copyright law grants some rights to creators and reserves some rights for the public. It is the limitations an exceptions to the monopolist’s power that provide the breathing space for free expression and that encourage innovation and competition in the market.

International treaty clauses that contain limitations and exceptions to copyright include:

  • TRIPS Article 13 and 30 (general exceptions & limitations)
  • WIPO Copyright Treaty Article 10(1) (general exceptions & limitations)
  • WIPO Performances and Phonograph Treaty Article 16(2) (general exceptions & limitations)
  • European Union Copyright Directive Article 5 (specific limitations & exceptions for particular use)
  • Rome Treaty Article 15(1) (specific limitations & exceptions for particular use)
  • Berne Copyright Treaty Article 10bis (specific limitations & exceptions for particular use)
  • TRIPS Article 31 (compulsory license)
  • Rome Treaty 15(2) (compulsory license)
  • Rome Treaty Article 13(d) (certain uses)

Many national copyright laws also contain important exceptions and exceptions to a copyright holder’s rights to help achieve the optimum balance. For example in the United States the equitable doctrine of "Fair Use" permits a number of uses that can be legally exercised even when the copyright holder does not wish to permit those uses. For example, making personal use copies of CDs, archiving books and software, and reverse-engineering technology are examples of fair uses under US Copyright Law. Section 117 of the US Copyright Act codified the fair use doctrine and lists other examples of fair uses (education, research, commentary, criticism, news, etc).

Other countries’ copyright laws contain a similar concept of "fair dealing" or specific statutorily permitted exceptions and limitations to copyright. And some countries, like Chile and Peru do not grant fair use rights to use copyrighted works.