Tackling copyright infringement

The IEC continues to address issues of unlawful distribution of standards

By Zoë Smart

The increasingly wide-spread access to the internet and electronic documents has made it easier and faster for users to find and obtain IEC International Standards. It has also, however, led to an increase in copyright infringement, often in the guise of unlawful selling or sharing of standards.

Copyright infringement is a serious issue facing standards organizations

Taking action

While the IEC is committed to making International Standards as widely available and implemented as possible an important contribution to their continuous development comes from sales revenue which is compromised when they are reproduced or redistributed without permission. The illegal sharing and selling of the documents is also dangerous for those using them as the content may have been tampered with and can no longer be guaranteed. Another risk is that users end up working from out-of-date standards.

At the Marketing and Communication Forum, Guilaine Fournet, Head of Sales and Business Development at the IEC and Nicolas Fleury, Director of Marketing, Communication and Information at ISO (International Standards Organization) gave a presentation to raise awareness of the issues at stake. They pointed out the significant rise in cases of illegal commercial activities, both deliberate and unintentional, and laid out the action plan that IEC and ISO have put in place in order to tackle copyright infringement.

For example, as of the beginning of 2012, the IEC has added a warning sign next to the usual copyright notice on all new International Standards, while digital watermarks on standards bought online ensure that the rightful licensee of the document can be easily identified.

What to do

When coming across a pirate site or standard being illegally sold or shared online it is important to secure evidence by taking a screenshot, as the pages are often changed or deleted, and then inform the IEC Central Office and any members directly concerned. It is also essential to raise awareness amongst stakeholders about where standards can be obtained legally; a list of authorized distributors can be found on the IEC website. 

More information about copyright infringement of International Standards and preventive measures can be found in the brochure Copyright, standards and the Internet.

copyright-symbol Copyright infringement is a serious issue facing standards organizations
IEC_warning_small As of 2012 the IEC has added a warning sign to all new standards
shark International Standards are under attack from information anarchists