The University of Cape Town’s Intellectual Property (IP) Unit strives to add an African voice to the global debate on IP-related issues. Our focus is on examining the link between IP, innovation, development and public policy. We aim at creating a leading IP programme in Africa that translates cutting edge research into excellent teaching and increases the number of highly-skilled African IP experts. Important issues range from the way in which we access and share knowledge to strategies how to commercialise inventions and avoid misappropriation. IP is a key determinant of human development, economic growth and competitiveness; and IP rules impact on various public policy areas including health, research and development, bio-diversity, clean technologies, food security, and education.
On 5 May 2016, the Gauteng High Court delivered the long awaited decision in Moneyweb v Media24. The case’s history is nicely captured here. In a nutshell, the case dealt with, among other things, the alleged copyright infringement of 7 articles published by Fin24, a part of Media24. Moneyweb had argued that through publishing these articles, Media 24 infringed its copyright by unlawfully copying, appropriating and/or plagiarising articles previously published by Moneyweb.
The dispute raised important issues regarding the substance and extent of copyright protection in news articles and the outcome clarified crucial aspects of South African copyright law, including fair dealing and the meaning of originality.
Three issues were at the heart of the decision: (1) whether Moneyweb’s articles were original, (2) whether Moneyweb had reproduced substantial parts of these articles, and (3) whether Media24 was absolved from liability by virtue of copyright exceptions and limitations (ss 12(2)(c)(i) [“fair dealing”] and 12(8)(a)). Continue reading
by Eve Gray
What needs to be done to achieve an enabling policy environment and the necessary technical infrastructure and professional skills in Southern Africa to foster the effective communication and publication of African scholarship? What benefits would accrue from more effective communication of the scholarship in the region? What would the region gain?
These were the core questions explored by a variety of speakers at a Leadership Dialogue attended by southern African Vice-Chancellors and organised by the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA), the UCT IP unit, UNESCO and Magna Charta Observatory. This workshop, a prelude to the Going Global 2016 conference being held at the Cape Town international Convention Centre, focused on Open Access and African Research Publication in the 21st Century. The choice of this focus on Open Access was triggered by an announcement that Elsevier was sponsoring the development of an open access African megajournal, in collaboration with the African Academy of Sciences, the African Centre for Technology Studies, the South African Medical Research Council and IBM Research Africa.
This initiative, under the auspices of the Elsevier Foundation, an independent charity founded by the company, appears to be doing a lot of the things that African governments ought to be, but are in general not doing. Elsevier has sponsored open access workshops with AAS, offers training in writing and publishing skills, and sponsors the use of technological platforms for open access dissemination. ‘We believe that there could be a much greater return on investment over the next ten years if African institutions, access programs and publishers could address awareness, usage and research capacity in a collaborative and integrated manner’ the Foundation states.
The question that arises from this is a crucial one. If, as African governments tend to approach research publication, the general trend continues to be a free rider syndrome in which everyone steps back and says ‘Publishers can do this well, so we do not have to’, what are the potential gains and losses? The gains may be highly professional journals – this time with African content, unlike the historical content profile of commercial journals. However, an ostensibly public benefit initiative such as this, which focuses on the core business out of which Elsevier makes its very substantial profits, is unlikely to stay completely free of charge for very long. Once it begins to be monetized, will African scholars, universities and governments be able to afford to publish in it? (They will be able to read it, but payment levels for publishing an article are likely to be so high that only well-endowed authors from overseas universities will be able to afford it. In other words, will it become another neo-colonial enterprise? Continue reading
The ASK Justice initiative contributes to positive policy change to increase access to medicine (A2M) and access to knowledge (A2K). This is done, primarily, by building a strong network of people at Southern and East African universities who work on human rights and intellectual property. We invite applications for a one-month Fellowship, to be spent at our centre, UCT’ IP Unit, working on the project’s activities. Primary responsibilities will include developing a good understanding of the ASK Justice research and contributing to the work, while helping solidify and grow the ASK Justice network. The deadline for applications is 31st May 2016. More information is available here.
In celebration of World IP Day (26 April), UCT’s Research Contracts and Intellectual Property Services is hosting a meme competition sponsored by the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO). Using the Creative Commons, the goal is to create a dialogue centred around where we get our digital content and why we need to be aware of image licensing. Prizes will be awarded for “The Most Creative & The Most Popular” entries. The competition is open to all UCT students and staff – entries close 17h00 SAST on 19 May 2016. More information is available here.
On 3 May, the IP Unit, together with Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA), the Magna Charta Observatory and UNESCO, organised a Leadership Dialogue at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on the future of Open Access publishing of African scholarly research against the backdrop of global shifts in how Open Access is applied. By evaluating what is happening in regions such as Latin America and Europe and reflecting on the values underpinning Open Access publishing, higher education decision-makers had the opportunity to contribute to an initial position on how Africa and its sub-regions should address research publishing. The timing of the event was ideal, since the global debate is shifting to less dogmatic ways of interpreting Open Access. The event provided African higher education stakeholders with a unique opportunity to shape this debate globally and for the African continent. This half-day event was an ideal pre-conference event for Vice-Chancellors and senior higher education decision makers attending the 2016 Going Global Conference at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town. The programme for the event is available here.
On 14 April 2016, UCT’s Professor Caroline Ncube, Head of the Department of Commercial Law, launched her new book titled Intellectual Property Policy, Law and Administration in Africa: Exploring Continental and Sub-Regional Co-operation in front of a formidable crowd at UCT’s law faculty. In her public conversation with Dr. Ada Ordor, director of the law faculty’s Centre for Comparative Law, Professor Ncube described her contribution to the field of intellectual property as “public interest based discussion on Africa from Africa”. In his congratulatory remarks, Dr. Tobias Schonwetter – the IP Unit’s director – stated that this book will be an extremely valuable resource for policy makers and scholars in the field. He emphasised that one of the book’s virtues is that it evaluates past and makes suggestions for future IP harmonisation efforts in Africa under due consideration of a state’s socio-economic and human rights or constitutional priorities. In doing so, Professor Ncube’s work builds upon the various research projects in the field undertaken by members of the IP Unit.
A video of Prof Ncube’s conversation with Dr. Ordor is available here.
The IP Unit is looking for student research assistants, for a period of 6 months, beginning April 2016. Student research assistants will work on two of our projects: Open AIR and ASK Justice. Student research assistant duties will span the scholarly spectrum and can include: conducting literature reviews; creating surveys and other tools; collecting, managing and analysing data; co-writing peer reviewed articles and media materials; co-presenting findings; and assisting with the management of Unit activities within a broader organisational structure. Student research assistants will also be encouraged and supported to conduct their own original research, under the direction and mentorship of academics based at UCT and/or other participating faculty, and could receive authorial or co-authorial credit. These activities will build academic skills like research methods, theory building, and scholarly publishing. Student research assistants will also have administrative duties within Open AIR and ASK Justice in order to help build highly transferable professional skills such as leadership and teamwork, project management, and community engagement. Student research assistants are expected to work, at the IP Unit, for up to 35 hours per month. The full job advertisement is available here. The deadline for applications is 31 March 2016.
[By Caroline Ncube]
On the 24th of February 2016, the UCT IP Unit hosted a CopyrightX:UCT special event and staff seminar at which Professor Jane Ginsburg of Columbia Law School presented a paper entitled ‘Exceptional Authorship: The Role of Copyright Exceptions in Promoting Creativity’ [available for download at SSRN]. The seminar was well attended and a lively debate followed Prof Ginsburg’s presentation. On the previous day Prof Ginsburg gave a guest lecture to LLB and LLM IP students during which she spoke about the reversion of copyright, which is one of the proposals included in the Copyright Amendment Bill, 2015.
The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC) invites submissions to its Issue 19, 2016, which will be a thematic issue focusing on matters of “Knowledge Governance for Development”. AJIC is DHET-accredited, peer-reviewed, open access journal published under a Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0) licence by the LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg. Submissions should touch on an element or elements of knowledge governance (e.g., knowledge creation, access, use, sharing, transfer, management, appropriation) in relation to socio-economic development in Africa, and/or elsewhere in the developing world with relevance to Africa through focus on one or more of the following:
1. POLICY, LAW, REGULATION AND/OR PRACTICE IN A KNOWLEDGE FIELD/SECTOR
2. KNOWLEDGE GOVERNANCE MECHANISMS AND METRICS
3. USER RIGHTS/ACCESS
The primary editors of this Thematic Issue are Dr. Chris Armstrong of the Wits LINK Centre and Dr. Tobias Schonwetter of the IP Unit, in collaboration with AJIC Corresponding Editor Lucienne Abrahams of the Wits LINK Centre.Proposed contributions to this Thematic Issue must be submitted on or before 30 April 2016 to Dr. Armstrong at c.g.armstrong(at)gmail(dot)com. Further information, including submission guidelines, is available here.
The IP Unit, in collaboration with Wikimedia ZA and WikiAfrica, will host two Edit-a-Thons in Cape Town at the end of this month as part of the Wiki Primary School Project. The Wiki Primary School Project is a joint research project carried out by the IP Unit and SUPSI – The University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland, with the support of South Africa’s NRF and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). It aims, in a nutshell, to provide on Wikipedia the information necessary to complete the cycle of primary education in South Africa. Currently, Wikipedia does not provide information that responds directly to curriculum-based questions. Please consider joining us for the Wikipedia Primary School edit-a-thons to help add and improve articles on Wikipedia that are important to primary school children in South Africa. We are planning to have 3 thematic streams at both edit-a-thons: (1) South African women leaders and issues around women; (2) South Africa’s indigenous people; and (3) good news stories affecting the youth (such as discoveries, inventions and policies).
Dates : 19 and 26 February 2016
Where : American Corner, Central Library, Old Drill Hall, cnr Parade & Darling, Cape Town
Time : 15:00 – 18:00
Cost : Free
Refreshments and light snacks will be provided.
Please RSVP for these events via Eventbrite
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