Collective management in the Arab region: IFRRO attends WIPO meeting in Tunisia

On 29 and 30 March 2017 IFRRO participated in a Regional Meeting for Copyright Offices in the Arab Region that was organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Tunisian Copyright Office, OTDAV (Organisme Tunisien des Droits d’Auteur et des Droits Voisins). tunisia.jpg
© Pierre-Olivier Lesburguères
No less than 16 countries from the region were represented at the meeting: Algeria, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and the host country, Tunisia. Despite sharing a language and a culture, the countries form a disparate group when it comes to collective management: CMOs have been firmly established in some countries while in other they are still at a nascent stage.
Over the last two years IFRRO has become more involved in the region as witnessed by a recent IFRRO study visit to Algeria and by the participation of the Secretary General of IFRRO in the Emirates Reproduction Rights Forum 2017, and this Regional Meeting offered an opportunity for IFRRO to strengthen links with WIPO and with Copyright Offices and CMOs in the Arab Region.
The discussions were led and moderated by Sylvie Forbin, WIPO’s Deputy Director General. In addition to the 16 Arab countries, participants included IFRRO’s Policy Advisor Pierre-Olivier Lesburguères, CISAC’s Adriana Moscoso , GESAC’s Martine Rezzi, Dr Silke von Lewinski from the Max Planck Institute and WIPO’s Ola Zahran. 
In her opening speech Ms Forbin highlighted the relevance of copyright “for all countries, small and big”, and she hinted at the importance of enforcement without which even the most comprehensive copyright law becomes useless. Her remarks were echoed by Mr Mohamed Zinelabidine, Minister of Cultural Affairs of Tunisia, who emphasised that “copyright is the cornerstone of society”, and later on by IFRRO’s Pierre-Olivier Lesburguères who presented case studies of countries in Africa and in Europe that have successfully implemented copyright policies and collective management despite hardships and difficult economic environments. Mr Lesburguères, in a panel discussion with CISAC and GESAC on “the Role of Collective Management Organizations in Reaping the Benefits of Culture”, further explained how Reproduction Rights Organisations are essential in developing and sustaining a local publishing industry. Using the examples of Andorra, Ivory Coast, Slovenia and Zambia, where RROs have been established and where a proper licensing framework is being developed, he showed how this in turn contributes positively to the protection of local cultures and languages as well as to growth and employment.
During these two days of intensive meetings a cultural programme allowed delegates to discover Tunisia’s rich cultural heritage, from the ancient Roman mosaics of the Bardo National Museum to traditional Tunisian music, reflecting the role of copyright in ensuring that yesterday’s cultural works are effectively protected and that today and tomorrow’s creators have an incentive to continue creating.