IIPSJ Written Statement to the 44th Session of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)

November 6-8, 2023

IIPSJ is a WIPO Accredited Observer, seated in the United States, focused on matters domestically, and internationally. IIPSJ examines intellectual property laws and policies to see where full participation of disadvantaged, excluded, and marginalized groups may need redressing. IP systems should offer access, inclusion, and empowerment for all, not only a select group. At this time, we would like to add a few observations of general nature, to the 44th SCCRR Agenda Item Number 8.1 on the Proposal for Analysis of Copyright Related to the Digital Environment.

The digital environment offers both opportunities, and risks for the creatives, sharing their works online. Effective IP protection and exploitation must be considered against the interests of various groups of stakeholders. There is evidence across jurisdictions, that not all artists, creatives, or musicians, are making comparable income, and that some groups are marginalized by the IP systems. In 2021, the UK Intellectual Property Office conducted a survey, finding that women make from music seven thousand pounds less than men, who on average make twenty thousand pounds a year.i In 2022, a larger sample investigating the earnings by Black artists found, that on average, Black women make twenty-five percent less than white women.ii In 2023, evidence found that Black musicians with disabilities, have fewer opportunities in the sector still.iii

IIPSJ has an extensive network of scholars and sister organizations, who have explored the effects of IP systems on different groups of inventors and creatives, and they agree that the personal characteristics, such as gender(s), race, nationality, age, disability, class (or other), matter when it comes to access and enjoyment of IP systems (an intersectional approach). Making art, as making music, is a social activity, where conditions in which the individuals create, matter. WIPO’s commitment to an inclusive IP regime is demonstrated, among other, by its activities under “Intellectual Property, Gender and Diversity” and its current WIPO IP Gender Action Plan (IP GAP). IP GAP’s vision of gender equality will rely on research “to identify the scope and nature of the gender gap in IP and ways to close the gap”.iv IIPSJ would add to the action plan and stress that firstly, WIPO IP GAP commitments should be implemented in other WIPO Studies, Analysis, and Action Plans, across all Divisions (such as the here discussed Agenda #8.1), and secondly, that this research must be intersectional, to avoid any correctives which could continue to ignore artists, creatives, or musicians, who are currently disadvantaged, excluded and marginalized by the creative industries.

There cannot be a socially just approach towards building an inclusive IP system, if we focus ‘on gender alone,’ or operate under the assumption that the digital space is full of opportunities, equal to all. There is ample research to demonstrate that not all artists or creatives, have equal access or opportunities, to share their innovation and imagination with the world, to the mutual benefit of all in the society.


Prepared by Dr. Metka Potočnik
IIPSJ Associate Director for International Programs


i Intellectual Property Office, ‘Music creators’ earnings in the digital era’ (2021). Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/music-creators-earnings-in-the-digital-era.

ii Black Lives in Music (BLIM UK), ‘Being Black in the UK Music Industry: Music Creators Part I’ (2021). Available: https://blim.org.uk/report/. For general research on women in UK music: Vick Bain, ‘Counting the Music Industry: the Gender Gap; A study of gender inequality in the UK Music Industry’ (2019). Available: https://vbain.co.uk/research/.

iii Black Lives in Music (BLIM UK), ‘Unseen. Unheard. Race and Disability – Black disabled experience in the UK’s music industry’ (2023). Available: https://blim.org.uk/report-unseen-unheard/.

iv World Intellectual Property Organization, ‘WIPO Intellectual Property (IP) and Gender Action Plan: the Role of IP in Support of Women and Girls’ (2022) 4. Available: https://www.wipo.int/women-and-ip/en/4.