Thursday, 28 May 2009

Exceptions to copyright: 8-country seminar exposes issues

Catherine Saez's latest article on IP Watch, "Copyright Exceptions Needed To Ensure Balance In Africa, Panellists Say", reviewed the proceedings of a seminar organised by research organisation IQsensato. This seminar focused on copyright and access to educational and learning materials in Africa, presenting the research findings of the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Project.

The research project studied eight African countries - Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda - and aimed at better understanding the relationship between national copyright environments and access to knowledge. The choice of countries was based on a number of criteria in order to represent different legal, socio-economic, political, cultural and linguistic contexts.

The article leaves one with the depressing feeling that Africa is in many ways an inhospitable territory both for copyright owners and for users. The substantive law often makes inadequate provision for the needs of consumers of copyright-protected works, which are frequently hard to come by because of distributional issues and the division of the continent into a large number of small and sometimes non-viable commercial markets, while the mechanisms for the enforcement of copyright are such that most rights owners will not opt to press any infringement claims except in the grossest incidents of unauthorised exploitation.

No comments: