Friday 28 June 2013

Caroline B Ncube

ATRIP Congress Day 3 & Treaty concluded at Marrakesh

The first plenary session of the third day of the 32nd ATRIP Congress  focused on the teaching of IP. One interesting point that was debated was the merits of teaching IP as part of a property law course.  The panelists (Jeremy de Beer, VC Vivekanandan, Dan Burk and Carlotta Graffigna) agreed that IP does not have to be a lex specialis for students encountering it for the first time. The second and final plenary, comprised of reports on IP in Singapore (Burton Ong), the Russian Federation (Ivan Zenin) and Israel (Lior Zemer). Jennifer Davis spoke on the concept of the 'reasonable consumer' in trademark law. Next year's congress will be hosted in France and the following one (2015) will be held in Cape Town, hosted by the association's new president Prof Tana Pistorius, of UNISA.

The ATRIP Congress ended on an unbelievable high as news came in of the conclusion of the Treaty to Improve Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled at Marrakesh.
Years of hard work and advocacy finally paid off when the treaty text was agreed upon. James Love summarises the import of the treaty as follows:

 'The text of this treaty provides a strong legal and political basis for copyright exceptions for persons with disabilities. The treaty will vastly expand access to works, particularly among persons sharing a common language, such as English, Spanish, Arabic and French, or persons who read multiple languages, or persons living in other countries with different languages.' (see full statement here and an archive of relevant documents here).

For its part, South Africa said:
'The name Marrakesh will forever resonate with this landmark treaty that seeks to address the balance between private and public interests in line with the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Persons with disabilities across the world in both developed and developing worlds have fought long and hard to have access to knowledge in accessible formats. This treaty creates an enabling legal framework to do so. It provides an impetus for a rights based approach and the full inclusion of disabled persons in society... South Africa is embarking on the process of reviewing its copyright legislation and will accede to the Treaty when all internal processes are concluded.
In conclusion, South Africa continues to attach great importance to a balanced approach between intellectual property right holders and public interest and it is within this context, that we reaffirm our support and commitment to this treaty.' (see full statement here)

The national copyright law of countries that accede to the treaty will have to be amended to give effect to the Marrakesh Treaty. A development this Leo keenly looks forward to. In the meantime, let's celebrate the treaty. Cookie, anyone?

Caroline B Ncube

Caroline B Ncube

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