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.
[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
Issue 16 of the The African Journal of Information and Communication (AJIC), published in December 2015, is a thematic issue focused on “African Intersections between Intellectual Property Rights and Knowledge Access”. Published by the Wits University LINK Centre in Johannesburg, AJIC is a peer-reviewed, open access journal made available under a Creative Commons licence. UCT IP Unit Director Dr Tobias Schonwetter served as a Guest Editor of this issue, along with Dr Chris Armstrong of the Wits LINK Centre. The articles range across a wide variety of IP and access to knowledge (A2K) matters on the African continent, including government open data portals, plant variety protection, access to medicines, copyright user rights for filmmakers, copyright and graffiti, the human rights dimension of IP, small-enterprise approaches to knowledge governance, and prospects for open licensing of scholarly and educational materials. Countries covered are Egypt, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa. Download AJIC Issue 16 PDF or AJIC Issue 16 Print-on-Demand PDF.
CopyrightX:UCT is a member of the growing CopyrightX Community, a network of affiliated courses offered by several universities and other institutions between January and April of each year. Through a combination of pre-recorded lectures, readings, seminars, live webcasts, and online discussions, the participants in these courses examine and assess the ways in which law seeks to stimulate and regulate creative expression. CopyrightX was developed by Professor William Fisher at Harvard Law School; it is hosted and supported by the HarvardX distance-learning initiative and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. A list of the other participating organisations and additional information concerning this educational initiative is available at http://copyx.org
CopyrightX:UCT consists of the Harvard pre-recorded lectures, accompanied by reading materials relating to U.S. and South African copyright law. Nine contact sessions will take place on Wednesdays between 17 February 2016 and 27 April 2016. The classroom seminars will discuss the pre-recorded lectures and will more closely analyse South African Copyright law and the issues faced. The seminars will be taught by Dr. Tobias Schonwetter.
The course is totally free of charge. Applicants must provide a motivation of approximately 400 words stating why they want to participate in CopyrightX:UCT, and how they plan on utilising their knowledge afterwards. Furthermore, applicants must make a commitment to actively participate in the course and attend the weekly seminars at the University of Cape Town.
Applications are open between now and 18 December 2015. Successful applicants will be notified by 13 January 2016.
For more info and to apply click here.
During its 3rd phase, Open AIR investigates how open collaborative innovation can help businesses scale up and seize the new opportunities of a global knowledge economy, and which knowledge governance systems will best ensure that the social and economic benefits of innovation are shared inclusively across society as a whole.
Open AIR is now seeking case studies that examine the connection between the practice of collaborative innovation and the processes of knowledge sharing and/or knowledge appropriation through intellectual property rights and other mechanisms. Studies should focus on one or more of Open AIR’s four priority research themes: (1) high technology hubs, (2) informal sector innovation, (3) indigenous and local entrepreneurs, and (4) metrics, laws and policies.
For further information, please visit the Open AIR website. Proposals are due on or before 10 December 2015.
Between December 2014 and August 2015, members of the IP Unit executed a research project on Open Data in Developing Countries. The World Wide Web Foundation-funded project was part of the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries Phase 2 project, and was titled “Embedding Open Data Practice: Developing indicators on the institutionalisation of open data practice in two African governments”. The final report is now available. The key motivation for conducting the research was that insufficient attention has been paid to the institutional dynamics within governments and how these may be impeding open data practice. In order to address the question of whether open data practice is being embedded, the project undertook a comparison of government open data in South Africa and Kenya.
On 16 September, the IP Unit submitted comments regarding the DTI’s Copyright Amendment Bill. Our comments are based on an in-depth collaborative analysis carried out by a group of leading international and domestic experts and scholars working in the field of copyright law. Our comments are geared towards facilitating a balanced, modern, sound, coherent and practically relevant copyright regime that complies with relevant international instruments and, even more importantly, sufficiently incentivises and maximises creativity in South Africa through protection and sufficient access for the benefit of society at large. We commend the DTI on a transparent and open stakeholder consultation process and its desire to tackle the difficult task of amending our Copyright Act. Moreover, we generally welcome the proposed introduction of the more flexible fair use doctrine into South Africa’s copyright legislation. However, in order to function in the intended manner, the entire system of copyright exceptions and limitations needs, in our opinion, to be adjusted as proposed in our submission. Our submission is structured as an outline document – it comments on provisions in the Bill that are of particular importance and concern to us. We do not attempt an exhaustive review of the Copyright Bill but rather aim to highlight selected areas of concern.
(by Linda Daniels for IP Watch, published under a CC BY NC SA licence)
Stakeholders from various positions of influence in the realm of intellectual property – including government – put a fine tooth comb through the South African Copyright Amendment Bill at a consultative conference called by the Department of Trade and Industry yesterday.
The one-day conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa on 27 August was called to further inform the refinement process of the bill. The Copyright Amendment Bill was published in the government gazette earlier this month and this opened a 30-day public consultation process. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) subsequently extended that deadline to 16 September.
(by Linda Daniels for IP Watch, published under a CC BY NC SA licence)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – A conference here this week elicited a robust debate amongst intellectual property stakeholders in South Africa about the objectives of the far-reaching draft Copyright Amendment Bill. The Internet Rights, Cultural Development and Balancing Features in South African Copyright Reform conference was held on 11 August in Pretoria. The one day conference brought together activists, law practitioners, academics and government representatives to unpack the draft amendment bill which was published in the government gazette three weeks ago (IPW, Africa, 28 July 2015). The publishing of the bill opened a 30-day window period for public comments. Tobias Schonwetter, director of the Intellectual Property Unit at the University of Cape Town and regional coordinator for Creative Commons, opened the conference by emphasising that the meeting was focused on the public interest of the bill. “The subject matter of copyright law is knowledge. It is cultural material. Any IP is not an end in itself. The purpose is much more utilitarian,” he said. “How can we retain balance of rights holder and user interests especially in the digital age?” Schonwetter added of the bill: “the general direction is right.” Macdonald Netshitenzhe, chief director of policy and legislation at the Department of Trade and Industry, in his opening address, sketched, amongst other things, the trajectory of the bill.
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