Sunday, 5 April 2015

African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms - 0% 'IP fat' content

Image result for i pledge
In a previous post, we saw how the current government in Nigeria plans to curb copyright piracy. It is not debatable whether a great deal of the infringement problem can be found online, when it appears the Nigerian Copyright Commission has a mammoth offline enforcement task to deal with.

Anyway, Afro-IP's attention has been drawn to a pledge drafted by a group of individuals who are concerned about the role of internet in the socio-economic development of African countries. 

From an IP perspective, unless this Leo's sight needs a serious eye checkup, here are the interesting parts: 

Principle 1: Social and economic openness, to support innovation and guard against monopolies, should be protected.

Principle 2: The cutting off or slowing down of access to the Internet, or parts of the Internet, for whole populations or segments of the public can never be justified on any ground, including on public order or national security grounds.

Principle 11: Everyone has the right to due process in relation to any legal claims or violations of the law regarding the Internet. Standards of liability, including defences in civil cases, should take into account the overall public interest in protecting both the expression and the forum in which it is made.

Access and Affordability

Access and affordability policies and regulations that foster unfettered and non-discriminatory access to the Internet, including fair and transparent market regulation, universal service requirements and licensing agreements, must be adopted.

Freedom of Expression
Filtering, blocking, removal and other technical or legal limits on access to content constitute serious restrictions on freedom of expression and can only be justified if they strictly comply with international human rights standards relating to limitations and due process requirements.

No one should be held liable for content on the Internet of which they are not the author. Furthermore, the State should not use or force intermediaries to undertake censorship on its behalf and intermediaries should not be required to prevent, hide or block content or disclose information about Internet users, or to remove access to user-generated content, including those that infringe copyright laws, unless they are required to do so by an order of a court.

Right to Information and Open Data
Copyrighted materials held by public bodies should be licensed for re-use in accordance with relevant access to information laws and licensing frameworks.

The existing obligation on public bodies to share all information produced with the support of public funds, subject only to clearly defined rules set out in law, as established by the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, shall extend to the proactive release of such information on the World Wide Web in openly licensed, freely re-useable formats.

Indeed, access to education is a key aspect of the Declaration, so is preservation of cultural heritage. (Though some might argue that there are contentious points to address) 

'IP rights in the digital age' and 'access to educational content online/copyright' discourse remain topical, globally. It would be interesting to see how or whether African countries would heed to the call.

Updated on 14/04/2015 to highlight parts of the Declaration which explicitly (or as may be interpreted) refer to 'IP rights' and the enforcement or exploitation of such rights.
Copyright infringement allegation which swirled around Nigeria's most lucrative blog is here and here
Mass digitisation of cultural heritage: Can copyright obstacles be overcome? Find out here
UK's latest exceptions to copyright are here

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