Author Archives: tobiasschonwetter

The power of DRM – the power to make you less money

drmby Kelsey Wiens (originally published on her personal blog. All content CC-BY unless otherwise noted).

Digital Rights Management, or DRM, is a digital encryption lock that is applied to film, music, video game, and books. The challenge with DRM is that it makes it difficult to share or move books between devices and traps consumers into one device.

The Big 5 Publishers (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House and Simon and Schuster) all automatically apply DRM to all ebooks on Amazon but if you are a independent publisher or author you can choose to apply DRM or not. Once this choice is applied you cannot change it in either direction.

Author Earning recently studied 120,000 of Amazon’s top selling ebooks to see how often DRM was applied and if DRM had any effect on sales.

Not surprisingly the Big 5 evokes DRM almost 100% of the time. By contrast, independent publishers have about 50% of the titles with DRM.  And the 50% of non-DRM ebooks account for 64% of total unit sales. Continue reading

2014 WTO Public Forum: Innovation, IP and the role of informal sectors in Africa’s development

wtopublicDuring the upcoming 2014 WTO Public Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, Open AIRWTIUNCTADIDEAS Centre and ICTSD will jointly organise a panel discussion. The session will look at the role of innovation and IP in Africa’s development process as well as how partners can contribute with improved technology transfer and better targeted technical assistance. Specific reference will be made to innovation in the informal economies and their contribution to Africa’s share in international trade. In the majority of African countries, the informal economy remains predominant. Most African countries are LDCs, exempted from most TRIPS obligations until 2021. Yet a number of African countries seek to use IP to generate greater value added for their agricultural products (such as coffee), traditional knowledge and genetic resources through, for example, the use of trademarks and geographical indications. Africa’s informal sectors are particularly adept at appropriating knowledge to facilitate rapid and locally relevant innovation.


Panellists

• Taffere Tesfachew, UNCTAD

• Pedro Roffe, ICTSD

• Dick Kawooya, Open AIR, University of South Carolina,

• Tobias Schonwetter, Open AIR; IP Unit, UCT

Moneyweb vs. Fin24 – copyright infringement litigation

by A/Prof Caroline Ncube (the is a shortened version of a blog post published on Afro-IP)

Moneyweb is suing Fin24 for copyright infringement arising out of Fin24′s (re-)publication of eight articles which had been initially published by Moneyweb (see a Mail and Guardian report here). Moneyweb has created a dedicated website (here) where it has posted all of the pleadings filed to date and media articles. This will be a very interesting case to follow, as it is the first time a South African court has had an opportunity to consider whether news aggregation constitutes copyright infringement. Anton Harber succinctly captured what’s at stake, when he blogged: ”This is a battle of our media giants, as Moneyweb is owned by Caxton and Fin24 by Nasper’s Media24. The elephants are fighting and the ants are watching, as always, nervously.” (Read his full post here).

Copyright User Rights and South African Filmmaking Briefing

bpfuOn 18 August 2014, the South African Screen Federation (SASFED), the Documentary Filmmakers’ Association (DFA), UCT’s IP Unit, and American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) held a public briefing in Johannesburg on the implications of an international research project on “Copyright Users’ Rights and the Clearance Culture in South African Filmmaking.” The briefing was organised in the context of the South African government’s announced intention to amend the Copyright Act, and discussed filmmakers’ potential interests in protecting, clarifying and expanding “user rights” in the law that permit creators and others to use copyright-protected content in subsequent work of authorship. South African and international copyright experts, local filmmakers and government officials attended, including Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law, American Washington College of Law, Sean Flynn, Associate Director, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) at American University Washington College of Law, Dr. Tobias Schonwetter, the IP Unit’s Director and Regional Coordinator of Creative Commons Africa, and Andrew Rens, Senior Research Associate at the IP Unit. Professors Jaszi and Flynn were instrumental in developing the hugely successful U.S. version of Best Practices in Fair Use document that makes clear what documentary filmmakers currently regard as reasonable application of the copyright Fair Use doctrine. Participants of the meeting agreed that a plan should be developed to create a similar document for South Africa.

Intellectual Property Law Short Course, 16 – 18 July 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 14.13.22 PMInnovation is the primary driver for accelerated growth in any economy and most significantly in South Africa. Since 2012 Government’s focus is on the knowledge economy and by establishing the incentive for advancement in technology, art, culture, manufacturing and science, intellectual property (IP) remains central to our country’s sustained development. A sound understanding of IP law is imperative to succeed in any competitive environment and increasingly relevant to non-legal practitioners.

This certificate short course, jointly presented by the IP Unit and the Anton Mostert Chair of Intellectual Property Law (University of Stellenbosch), will offer a theoretical and practice-driven introduction to the law of patents, trademarks, copyright and designs. It aims to equip attendees with the skills required to manage their IP as well as demystify IP law. The course is aimed at everyone with an interest in IP regardless of prior knowledge in this varied field of law. The course is particularly relevant to those in business development, marketing, advertising, journalism, Government, science, engineering, commerce, performing arts, IT and paralegal services. This year’s course will be presented at the Wallenberg Conference Centre at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies (STIAS) on the historic Mostertsdrift estate in the heart of Stellenbosch. More information about the course is available here.

To register for the course complete the registration form or contact:
Paula Allen +27 (0)21 650 5558 paula.allen@uct.ac.za
Andrea Blaauw +27 (0)21 650 5413
Irena Wasserfall +27 (0)21 650 5513

Fast-tracking OER policy and practice in South Africa – UNISA on the move

oer_logo_EN_1(by Eve Gray) The question of open access to research, teaching and learning resources in South Africa has for a long time been a somewhat paradoxical space in national and institutional policy. There has appeared to be sympathy for open access and OERs, and some government support evidenced, for example, in the Academy of Science’s partnership with SciELO for the creation of a national platform for OA journals, SciELO South Africa. At an institutional level, the number of OA institutional repositories has been growing, the University of Stellenbosch has added the creation of a lively and ambitious open journal publishing programme, and the country’s leading research university, the University of Cape Town in its Open Content Directory now takes a wide-ranging approach to the research and teaching and learning resources it hosts. What there has not been up until now is a coherent national policy framework with in-principle support for open content produced through public funds.

Continue reading

Creative Commons South Africa and Code4SA announce the Open Data Now UnConference

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 14.24.15 PMAs a response to the restrictive policies of the Apartheid government, the right to access to information was enshrined in the South African Bill of Rights. The Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000 outlines the process through which citizens can request information held by public and private bodies. While important, the act is challenging and often creates an adversarial relationship between requestor and requestee. The Open Data movement, worldwide, and in South Africa seeks to change the relationship between government and society with regards to data.

Interested stakeholders, together with a select group of thought leaders and innovators, are invited by Code for South Africa, and Creative Commons South Africa to the first South African Open Data Unconference on 30 June and 1 July in Cape Town. Representatives from government, civil society, academia, funding organisations, the media, and the private sector will collaboratively set an agenda for action. Goals for the UnConference include:

  • Identify a set of prioritised and shared results that can be achieved together over the next 2 years
  • Map out the current contributions and innovations that organisations are making in this area, to identify potential ways to scale these up and coordinate efforts
  • Engage other organisations and individuals who share a common interest in working together to plan, codevelop, resource and implement the environment required for open data in South Africa
  • Explore how the partnership initiative can become an envoy for the larger community of policymakers; practitioners; civil society; media; academia; funders and information hackers who love to liberate data for good causes
  • Establish a representative Open Data reference group that will take custodianship of this initiative

Creative Commons South Africa is based at the IP Unit. Please register for the event at http://opendatanow.code4sa.org/

Our views regarding the “Four Corners” piracy case sentence

the_pirate_bay_logoVery recently, the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sentenced a man to a three-year suspended sentence and fined him R3,000 or a six-month suspended sentence for posting a copy of a local movie, Four Corners, on Pirate Bay.

A/Prof. Caroline Ncube eloquently discusses the case on Afro-IP, and Dr. Tobias Schonwetter, the IP Unit’s director, summarises his thoughts in the following CC-licensed article by Adam Oxford in htxt.africa:

“Today’s ruling that the first person to be convicted of online copyright infringement in South Africa must serve a three year jail sentence, fully suspended for five years, has been slammed as “draconian” by a leading academic in the field of intellectual property.

The court passed judgement on a man from the Cape Flats earlier today, who pleaded guilty to uploading a torrent link to The Pirate Bay and a digital file containing South African gangster movie Four Corners. The offender said that he was relieved with the verdict as it meant he could walk free from the court.

Dr Tobias Schonwetter, director of the Intellectual Property Unit at the University of Cape Town, says that he is “surprised by the harshness” of the sentence.

“On the face of it, the sentence of three years imprisonment fully suspended appears draconically harsh,” Schonwetter says, “And reminds me of the heavy punishments in other countries that have been widely criticised for not tackling the underlying reasons for online piracy; and for not achieving the objective of reducing piracy either. However, Mr Norton may actually prefer this sentence to being fined thousands of Rands.”

Schonwetter says that the final judgement may show a lack of understanding of the current entertainment market. Continue reading

2013 Gobal Congress presentations and video clips are now online

Conference-LogoThe combined 3rd Global Congress on IP and the Public Interest and the Open AIR conference was hosted by our IP Unit  in December 2013 and brought together IP issue leaders from around the world in Cape Town to discuss various issues under the theme Refining the positive agenda: Global questions, local answers? This theme emphasised the refrain against one-size-fits-all approaches for all aspects of IP policy, including “the public interest”.  Many of the event’s presentations are now available online and can be accessed through the congress’ online programme. Moreover, more than two dozen video clips from the event can now be found here.

South African Intellectual Property Law Journal (IPLJ)

Intellectual_Property_Law_Journal.jpg.400x400_q85The first issue of South African Intellectual Property Law Journal (IPLJ) edited by the IP Unit’s Lee-Ann Tong and Prof. Caroline Ncube is now in print. The IPLJ strives to be the journal of choice for academics, practitioners and students of IP law. The IPLJ includes articles on recent developments in legislation, policy and case law to keep IP practitioners at the forefront of the law. The journal contains, among other things, articles, notes and updates, comments and book reviews. The IPLJ accepts submissions on an ongoing basis, however, the final submission date for the 2014 issue is 30 April 2014. Submissions and enquiries can be directed to the Editors at editoriplj@uct.ac.za . Guidelines for contributors are available here.