Aug 182017

Image: Alex Covarrubias (CC-BY)

We, the undersigned, are Internet freedom and public interest advocates drawn from all three nations party to this agreement, who are dedicated to the rights of all peoples to access cultural and educational resources, to enjoy a free and open Internet, and to benefit from open and needs-driven innovation.

As the United States, Mexico and Canada begin talks on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) this week, we write to share our concerns about NAFTA’s potential impact on the critical functions of the Internet and its potential to threaten access to information, the dissemination of news, cultural exchange and democratic organizing. Continue reading »

Aug 142017

Image: Alex Covarrubias (CC-BY)

The U.S, Mexico and Canada will begin renegotiating NAFTA this Wednesday at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington DC.

Inside US Trade reports that “initial talks will focus mostly on logistics and agenda-setting… Negotiators are expected to establish working groups for specific issue areas, identify their NAFTA-country counterparts and pinpoint the contentious issues that will take longer to negotiate. Negotiators will also exchange their priorities for the renegotiations, which could include agreeing on what issues will not be renegotiated. This will allow the negotiators to construct a chronology for the talks as they move forward.” Continue reading »

Aug 132017

South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry has released Draft Intellectual Property Policy (Phase I). The full document is here (PDF). The introduction, which summarizes the policy’s goals and proposed reforms, is below.

The National Development Plan (NDP) of South Africa calls for a greater emphasis on innovation, improved productivity, an intensive pursuit of a knowledge economy and the better exploitation of comparative and competitive advantages. Intellectual Property (IP) is an important policy instrument in promoting innovation, technology transfer, research and development (R&D), creative expression, consumer protection, industrial development and more broadly, economic growth. Continue reading »

Aug 112017

Gerald Leitner, Secretary General of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
Reposted from IP-Watch, Link (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Information is the raw material for decision-making. When individuals and groups make the right choices, based on good information, their chances of taking a full role in economic, social, cultural and civic life improve. They can better create and innovate, participate in politics, find and do their jobs well, and live healthily.

Informed citizens and communities are also essential to the UN’s 2030 Agenda. We cannot have sustainable development when individuals are not able to deal with new choices and challenges autonomously, drawing on access to information. And we cannot have inclusive development, with no-one left behind, unless this access is real and meaningful for everyone. Continue reading »

Aug 042017

[Originally published in South Africa’s Business Day, Link] Over the past two weeks, I have been participating in a series of events and workshops explaining copyright “fair use” rights to South African stakeholders and officials. This week, Parliament has been hearing about fair use while it considers the Copyright Amendment Bill, part of which includes the introduction of a fair use right.

Rights management organisations, which collect royalties from schools, venues and other organisations that use copyrighted works, are up in arms. A collection of these organisations and foreign media companies such as Sony Pictures, calling itself the Copyright Alliance, has claimed that fair use means: Continue reading »

Aug 042017

[Electronic Information for Libraries, Link (CC-BY)] Leading library organizations, EIFL, AfLIA (African Library and Information Associations and Institutions) and IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), call on Malawi to embrace the spirit of the Marrakesh Treaty by dropping a legal requirement to check if a work is commercially available before an accessible format copy can be made.

An analysis by EIFL of Malawi’s copyright law, adopted in September 2016, shows that while the new law permits a range of library activities and services, complex conditions limit in practice what libraries in Malawi are permitted to do. Continue reading »

Data Commons for Food Security

 Posted by on August 1, 2017  1 Response »
Aug 012017

Jeremiah Baarbé, Meghan Blom, Jeremy de Beer
Proceedings of the 2017 IASC Conference
Open AIR Working Paper No. 7/17
Full text on SSRN

Executive Summary: Agricultural and nutritional data is an increasingly vital resource in the advancement and innovation of farmer organizations, food production, value chain development, and provision of services (Jellema, Meijninger, and Addison, 2015). Modern farmers rely on computational and precision agriculture to inform decisions. Datasets such as weather data, market price data, and agricultural inputs fuel these tools, which range from simple graphs to emerging artificial intelligence networks (GODAN, 2015). Access to and use of such data can play a key role in addressing global food insecurity by “enabling better decision making, transparency and innovation” (Open Data Charter, 2016). With this growing recognition however, is the understanding that ownership rights remain a major factor in the access to and use of data, distinct from yet, as important, as the availability of education, skills, technology, infrastructure, and finances (de Beer, 2016). Continue reading »

Jul 312017

This week the South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will hold three days of hearings on the Copyright Amendment Bill (B13-2017). Witnesses will give 20 minute presentations, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A.

The hearings will be on August 1, 2 and 4, and the testimony will be open to the public.

The hearing schedule is available here.
PIJIP’s collection of written statements to the Committee on the Copyright Amendment Bill is here.

Jul 282017

[Arul George Scaria and Anubha Sinha for, Link] Negotiators from sixteen countries are currently meeting in Hyderabad for discussing a free trade agreement titled Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Looking at the latest available IP chapter (leak dated October 15, 2015), RCEP stands to adversely affect nearly half of the world’s population on areas like access to knowledge and access to medicines. We would like to highlight five issues related to access to knowlege/cultural goods, based on the leaked IP chapter.

Click here for the full story at

Jul 282017

[Andy, TorrentFreak, Link (CC-BY-NC)] A copyright amendment approved by the Italian authorities breaches the EU convention on human rights, an ISP organization has warned. The law allows the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority to issue “take down, stay down” instructions to websites listing allegedly infringing content but without intervention from the judiciary.

After being spoken of in unfavorable terms by the United States Trade Representative in its Special 301 Reports, Italy achieved a sudden breakthrough in 2014. Continue reading »

Jul 252017

[University of Cape Town IP Unit Press Release, Link] Together with two institutions in India and Brazil, UCT’s IP Unit has just co-published a paper with the title ‘Innovation, Intellectual Property and Development: A Better Set of Approaches for the 21st Century.’ The paper is authored by Dean Baker, Associate Professor Arjun Jayadev and Nobel Prize winner and former Chief Economist of the World Bank Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz. It is part of a series of arguments from AccessIBSA: Innovation & Access to Medicines in India, Brazil & South Africa, a project supported by the Shuttleworth Foundation.

In the paper’s introduction, the authors state that “[i]f the knowledge economy and the economy of ideas is to be a key part of the global economy and if static societies are to be transformed into ‘learning societies’ that are key for growth and development, there is a desperate need to rethink the current [intellectual property] regime and to allow for a much less restrictive flow of information and knowledge. Moreover, if we are considering questions of ethics, the current regime is deeply regressive and inefficient.” Continue reading »

Jul 212017

[Alek Tarkowski and Teresa Nobre, Communia Association, Link (CC-0)] Last week, the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) of the European Parliament voted on its final opinion concerning the Commission’s Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Copyright law in the shape proposed by the CULT MEPs would spell disaster for educators and educational institutions across Europe. Continue reading »