Draft Treaty on Education and Research Exceptions (TERA)

A Treaty on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Educational and Research Activities (TERA)

We were very interested and encouraged to hear about a recent draft treaty on education and research exceptions. For those not familiar with the way international treaties impact on copyright law, they are a crucial component of creating the appropriate balance in the global copyright system. The first major international treaty was the Berne Convention of 1886 which provided authors with copyright protection in countries other than their own. Throughout the 20th century international treaties provided greater protections for entrepreneurial productions such as sound recordings, broadcasts and movies. In today’s digitally connected world we believe one of the key challenges we face is ensuring all citizens have legal access to education and the fruits of science and scholarly activity. This draft treaty proposes that truly functional educational and research exceptions should be incorporated into all countries’ laws. We have endorsed the treaty in a personal capacity and are working with colleagues in educational institutions to do the same. The following text was provided by Sean Flynn at American University Washington College of Law, but more information can be found on the Infojustice website:

The Civil Society Proposed Treaty on Copyright Exceptions for Educational and Research Activities https://tinyurl.com/TERA-GCV is open for civil society organization and individual expert endorsements.

The treaty was drafted and adopted by 15 civil society and research organizations at the Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest September 25 at American University Washington College of Law. It is open to additional endorsements at https://form.jotform.com/pijip/endorse-TERA

The Treaty is a reaction to the current state of the digital ecosystem in which, despite the promise of the reduction of the cost of sharing learning and research materials, we still live in a world in which there is acute inequality in access to resources for teaching, learning and research. Too often the barrier to fully utilizing learning and research materials is based in a restrictive copyright system. Many laws around the world – disproportionately located in the developing world – fail to enable the full range of uses, users, works and purposes necessary for modern learning. Learning and research materials that are lawful in one country may be restricted in another – making the goal of universal access to a common set of learning tools practically impossible. As described in the preamble to the treaty, human rights obligations and sustainable development goals bind governments to act in response. One means for such action is to add to the international legal system binding norms that enable research and educational uses.

The Civil Society Proposed Treaty on Copyright Exceptions for Educational and Research Activities requires all of its Contracting Parties to recognize rights to use materials for educational or research purposes wherever those uses are limited to the extent justified by the use and are compatible with fair practice. The Treaty also calls on states to recognize specific educational uses, such as:

  • making copies in the course of teaching, learning, and research;
  • performing or communicating works in an educational context;
  • making quotations;
  • using images, short works and excerpts of longer works;
  • translating materials;
  • using materials for which the right holder cannot reasonably be identified or located, or for which there is no longer a commercial exploitation;
  • making and providing accessible format copies of materials to people with disabilities;
  • importing lawfully made copies of materials;
  • using works for computational or other research uses that do not themselves express or communicate the work to the public, including indexing and text and data-mining.

The Treaty would further require that all rights to use educational or research materials be protected from contractual provisions or technological protection measures, and that good faith users of works for educational or research purposes be protected from claims for damages and criminal liability.

Review and endorse the treaty at https://tinyurl.com/TERA-GCV

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