Preserving creativity from piracy the focus of UN celebrations for day of books

23 April 2010

The United Nations agency tasked with preserving cultural diversity and global heritage is marking World Book and Copyright Day today by highlighting its new online database aimed at protecting creativity from intellectual piracy.

The World Anti-Piracy Observatory (WAPO), launched in January by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is a free, web-based reference tool that provides information on national anti-piracy and copyright measures and policies, as well as updated news and best practices.

And in her message marking the Day, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova also emphasized the need for better protection for intellectual rights.

“In the light of the emergence of new forms of books, of changes in the design, production and access to contents of books, it is urgent to recall that there can be no book development without respect for copyright,” she said, describing books as “instruments for peace.”

Ms. Bokova noted that the focus on copyright this year is particularly timely given the recent rise of digital books and online reproductions. “Digitization further exposes books to risks of illicit use,” she stressed.

The World Book and Copyright Day has been observed for the past 15 years to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property.

It is celebrated on 23 April, a symbolic date for literature as it coincides with the deaths on that day in 1616 of Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Today is also the anniversary of either the birth or death of the writers Vladimir Nabokov, Halldór Laxness, Maurice Druon, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.

In memory of these authors and many others, festivities are scheduled today in this year’s World Book Capital, the Slovenian city of Ljubljana.

The mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Jankovic, is expected to raise a special flag today at City Hall, and the city is planning more than 300 other activities during the year, aiming to foster reading and a love of books, to facilitate access to books and to present a range of different literary genres from around the world.

Ms. Bokova said she also wanted to spare a thought in her message today to the estimated 759 million people worldwide who are illiterate – two-thirds of them women.

“Freedom to read, to receive an education, to access remote cultures and research findings is nonetheless a fundamental human right,” the Director-General said.

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