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by Smt. Anjali Ambekar
World Book Day
April 23 is chosen as the World Book Day by UNESCO General Conference in 1995 to encourage reading and publishing, and to promote the protection of intellectual property. April 23 is chosen because this is a special day in the literature arena. William Shakespeare, the great poet, died on 23 April 1616. In addition, many famous authors such as Maurice Duron, K. Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejia Vallejo were born or died on this day.
This international event organised by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) got its start in Spain in 1923, where the commemoration of Miguel de Cervantes' death by local booksellers combined with the celebration of St. George's Day to create a new traditional exchange of flowers and books.
It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.
The success of the World Book and Copyright Day will depend primarily on the support received from all parties concerned (authors, publishers, teachers, librarians, public and private institutions, humanitarian NGOs and the mass media), who have been mobilized in each country by UNESCO National Commissions, UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations, Associated Schools and Libraries, and by all those who feel motivated to work together in this world celebration of books and authors.
Copyright and neighboring rights protection is essential for enhancing individual creativity, for the development of cultural industries and the promotion of cultural diversity. Rampant piracy and low level of enforcement of copyright laws destroy the incentives for the creation and distribution of local cultural products in all the countries of the world and reveal the need for concerted efforts to encourage creativity and to foster sustainable development.
Committed to promoting copyright protection since its early days (the Universal Copyright Convention was adopted under UNESCO’s aegis in 1952), UNESCO has over time grown concerned with ensuring general respect for copyright in all fields of creation and cultural industries. It conducts, in the framework of the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, awareness-raising and capacity-building projects, in addition to information, training and research in the field of copyright law. It is particularly involved in developing new initiatives to fight against piracy.
The digital revolution has not left copyright protection unaffected. UNESCO endeavour’s to make a contribution to the international debate on this issue, taking into account the development perspective and paying particular attention to the need of maintaining the fair balance between the interests of authors and the interest of the general public of access to knowledge and information.