International developments in
Intellectual property
Denise Nicholson
SA Representative for eIFL.net
and
Copyright Services Librarian, University of the Witwatersrand, Jhb.
ZULC Open Access and Creating a Knowledge Society Conference
Harare - 25th April 2006
What is Intellectual Property?
 IP refers to creations of the mind
 Two categories:
– Industrial property - inventions (patents), trademarks,
industrial designs, and geographic indications of source
– Copyright - literary, artistic & musical works, films,
sound recordings & computer programs. Rights include
those of performing artists, producers and broadcasters
Why international IP
developments are important
 Copyright law characterized by international nature
 National laws come from international treaties and
agreements
 Librarians need to be vocal in international law-making
bodies
 Without input from librarians and educators, laws could
be too restrictive!
Key international organizations
 The World Intellectual Property Organization
(WIPO) (www.wipo.int)
 The World Trade Organization (WTO)
(www.wto.org)
WIPO Development Agenda
 WIPO is a UN Agency - funded by international patent
system.
 WIPO’s decisions have huge impact on developing
countries
 Geneva Declaration on the Future of WIPO –
 WIPO Development Agenda – proposed by Chile and
Argentina – supported by 12 other developing countries,
civil societies, etc.
WIPO Development Agenda
(cont’d)
 IP protection has become an end in itself
 Agenda aims to re-orient WIPO to its original goal to
promote intellectual creativity
 WIPO obliged to facilitate and implement wider
development perspective of the UN Millennium Declaration
 Has mandate to facilitate transfer of technology and
capacity building in developing countries
WIPO’s approach to Agenda
 Special intergovernmental meetings (IIMs)
 Consensus blocked by U.S. and Japan
 2005 Assembly agreed to 2 meetings in 2006 (one in
February; one in June)
 Proposal by Chile on the public domain
 Discussion of proposals by African Group
Draft Treaty on
Access to Knowledge (A2K)
 FOD’s initiative to counterbalance current IP trends
 Civil societies drafted A2K Treaty, which would  Redress imbalance
 Provide guaranteed minimum levels of exceptions and
limitations;
 Provide checks and balances between rights holders
and consumers;
 Support and promote new business models of open
access & open source software;
 A2K Conference – April 2006
Intellectual property in Africa
 Priorities differ
 Western copyright vs. collective ownership
 Outdated copyright laws restrict access
 Co-operative between WIPO and ARIPO, OAPI & African
Regional Centre for Technology (industrial property)
 No copyright co-operation in Africa until recently
 Few Rights Organizations function properly
 Copyright laws are not balanced
 Current laws fail to address needs of education, libraries &
the sensory-disabled
Copyright –
a barrier to education
Problems with accessing information –
 Music lecturer
 Distance learner
Blind student
Deaf student
Librarian
Copyright – a barrier (cont’d)
 Nursing sister
 Literacy facilitator
Rural teacher
Access to knowledge and cultural treasures
Restricted!
Benefit or burden?
 Is copyright working? Yes – for developed countries
 Sophisticated income-protection mechanism
 Low royalties for authors – what incentives?
 Scholarly authors have to assign copyright
 Educational institutions pay over and over
 Bulk of works used are from abroad
 Bulk of royalties paid to foreign rights-owners
Benefit or burden?
(cont’d)
 Copyright infringement – not generally with criminal
intent
 Communities cannot afford to buy works
 Need the information to become educated
 The stricter the law, the more infringements
TRIPS Agreement
 TRIPS ties copyright into global trading system
 Emerged from Uruguay Round on Tariffs and Trade
(GATT)
 First comprehensive IP agreement ever executed by
world’s trading nations
 Minimum standards and legal flexibilities
 Developing countries have until end 2006 to become
TRIPS compliant in domestic laws
 LDC’s have until 2016
Copyright and Trade:
Free Trade Agreements
“A Free Trade Agreement is a contractual arrangement
which establishes unimpeded exchange and flow of
goods and services between trading partners regardless
of national borders.”
(www.fedex.com/ca_english/shippingguide/glossary.html)
It contains an IP Chapter, the “TRIPS Plus”, which far
exceeds minimum requirements of international IP
Agreements
Behind closed doors
TRIPS-Plus
 TRIPS-Plus + Expanded TRIPS Agreement
 Provisions far exceed international minimum standards
 U.S. Digital Millennium Agenda and Sonny Bono
Copyright Act extended beyond its borders
 Goes to heart of education, development and economic
policies of developing countries
Impact of TRIPS-Plus
 Extra 20 years copyright protection
 Distorts traditional balance of interests
 Has serious affects on –
 Education
 Research
 General access to information and knowledge
 Development policies
 Outflow of currency – huge economic burden
 Shrinks the public domain
 Vibrant public domain necessary for new creations
 Rights owners control from the grave!
TRIPS Plus & Public health
 DOHA Declaration
 TRIPS must support countries’ public health objectives
 CIPR encouraged compulsory licensing & generic
competition
 TRIPS-Plus erodes TRIPS exceptions
 Limits generic competition & restricts exports
 Expands patent protection
 Restricts exclusion of inventions for patentability
 Public health and millions of lives at risk
 African countries must adopt DOHA and TRIPS flexibilities
Anti-circumvention technologies
(DRMs)
 Exceed WIPO obligations
 Eliminate fair use and stifle research
 Block text-to-speech software
 Create monopolies over devices that
handle digital media
 Lock up indigenous knowledge
 Affect software industries & open access
 Regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
Should Africa adopt TRIPS-Plus?
 No – it would affect fair use, legitimate library and
archival functions and research
 Compromises public health & development policies
 Undermines democracy and national sovereignty
 Contradicts the will of the public
 Legal flexibilities would be overridden
 Far less access to global knowledge
 IP cannot be an end in itself
 Rather support Development Agenda and A2K Treaty
Copyright initiatives
 eIFL.IP - www.eifl.net
 Commonwealth of Learning – www.col.org
COL Copyright Document =
www.col.org/programmes/infoknowledge/CopyrightDoc_200505.pdf
 SARDEC - www.sardec.org.bw/
More copyright initiatives
 ACAIA - www.nlu.go.ug/acfconf.htm
(own website will be created)
 African Digital Commons - www.commons-sense.org/
 Creative Commons - www.creativecommons.org and
new website – icommons.org
Why should
librarians be concerned?
 Committed to freedom of access to information and
free flow of information
 Support balanced copyright
 Restrictive copyright laws impact on their core
business
Challenges & Recommendations
Librarians must  Take up the challenge!
 Must organize and mobilize at all levels
 Must lobby national governments to –
– review copyright laws and adopt legal flexibilities;
– resist TRIPS Plus
– support WIPO Development Agenda, A2K and other initiatives
Challenges and
Recommendations (cont’d)
 Restore the balance
 Consider legislation for “Orphan Works”
 Open public-funded research to the public
 Establish alliances with international organizations
 Work together to find a copyright solution for Africa
Let’s start right now!!
Thank You
Denise Rosemary Nicholson
SA Representative for eIFL.net
and
Copyright Services Librarian,
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, S.A.
[email protected]
Phone: +27 11 7171929 – Fax: +27 11 403-1421
www.wits.ac.za/library/services/copyright
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