WIPO Enriched by In-Depth Discussion of Public Domain (KEI)

“With respect to the public domain, Richard Owens (WIPO Secretariat) noted that there is a fundamental question of definition that frames the policy debate on this issue. The classical definition of the public domain (in the copyright context) is “what is not protected by copyright, i.e. rights that have expired, works that have not been deemed worthy of protection, and exceptions to copyright including official laws and statutes.” Owens contrasted the classical definition with a more vernacular approach to the public domain not rooted in traditional copyright discourse but rather predication upon the notion of “access to content, irrespective of whether content is copyrighted”. Owens mentioned collaborative works and the progress in information and communications (ICT) technology as part of this vernacular discourse on the public domain. He raised two potential studies WIPO could embark upon with respect to the public domain. The first would be a comparative analysis of countries’ legislation asking the question, “how do Member states define the public domain”. The second potential study would examine the how living creators use existing copyright structures to put their works into the public domain. …

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