“By the decision of the UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris 1995, World Book and Copyright Day is celebrated on 23 April. The selection of this date at the same time pays homage to William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes who had died on this day. In 2020, we celebrate the Book Day in extraordinary circumstances. However, that is not a reason to neglect books. On the contrary.
Isolation and social distancing measures are still in effect. We all miss our “old” freedom, socialising and regular life’s dynamics. Under such conditions, our faithful ally is – a book. It takes us to discover new worlds, without even leaving our home chairs. Suddenly, we will realise that there is already a labyrinth of archetypes and feelings within ourselves.
It is especially important to return books into the hands of children. Instead of fun at the playgrounds, which is now interrupted, we can open to them the splendid doors of literature and poetry. In the period of relativisation of cultural values and classical upbringing, a good book is the best cure for our youngest.
Under the new circumstances, Montenegro's education system has shown the ability to adapt to the situation in a very short time and use modern technologies. We have inadvertently accelerated the steps towards a digitally transformed Montenegro, where physical barriers and old borders will disappear. The Learn at Home project has delivered beautiful scenes, such as the reading of Shakespeare's works on national television.
As stated in a United Nations statement on this year's celebration of World Book and Copyright Day:
- More than ever, at a time where most of the schools around the world are closed and people are having to limit their time spent outside, the power of books should be leveraged to combat isolation, reinforce ties between people, expand our horizons, while stimulating our minds and creativity. Through reading and the celebration of World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April, we can open ourselves to others despite distance, and we can travel thanks to imagination. By creating a sense of community through the shared readings and the shared knowledge, readers around the world can connect and mutually help curb loneliness.
However, there would be no books without the will and passion of their authors. That is why this holiday is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of copyright and the responsibility we all have in protecting it.
Intellectual property protection in Montenegro began its history almost 140 years ago, in 1883, when the Principality of Montenegro ratified the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and acceded to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
The Constitution of present-day Montenegro clearly guarantees copyright and other intellectual property rights by Article 76, which reads: “The freedom of scientific, cultural and artistic creation shall be guaranteed. The freedom to publish works of science and arts, scientific discoveries and technical inventions shall be guaranteed, and their authors shall be guaranteed the moral and property rights.”
Lawmakers have a particular obligation to protect authors in times when mass piracy and counterfeiting prevail due to the emergence of new technologies. After putting in your effort and talent, you do not expect society to indifferently accept that the fruits of your labour are alienated and massively shared without any compensation. Thus, the same criteria that apply to tangible products must apply to the intangible ones created by writers and other cultural creators. This day 23 April, International Book and Copyright Day, is an opportunity to remind ourselves of this.
In the upcoming months, the Parliament of Montenegro is set to adopt amendments to the Law on Copyright and Related Rights. These legal changes represent a comprehensive and fundamental improvement of the current law in many segments, which will harmonise it with the legal norms of the European Union, and provide better conditions for free and safe work for scientists and artists. Therefore, this year's World Book and Copyright Day is an overture to a new step forward in the legal environment for cultural creativity."