Copyright & A2K Issues - 4 March 2013 (3)

AFRICA IP FORUM – 27 FEBRUARY 2013

Plenary 3: Title: Bridging the knowledge gap in Africa: Role of Copyright Exceptions and Limitations. Speaker:  Denise Nicholson, Copyright Services Librarian, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.  Panel Members:  Mr. Simphiwe Ncwana, Director, DTI, and Ms. Lucy Mahlangu, Department of Arts & Culture.

This paper discussed the importance of copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries, archives, research and  education, in the context of developing countries and in the digital era.  It showed that limitations and exceptions are not just a ‘wish list’ for information users, but that they are very necessary and are indeed grounded in several international IP agreements. They are also promoted in many international and regional  IP documents, projects, initiatives and research reports.  A timeline of lobby efforts in South Africa was given to show that it is high time that the Department of Trade & Industry amended the copyright laws appropriately.  

Track 1:  Public Interest and Development Issues in IP enforcement. Speaker: Mr. Tenu Avafia, Cluster Leader: Human Rights & Governance, HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP, New York.  Panel Member:  Mr. Russell Bagnall, Adams & Adams; Prof. Carlos Correa, Special Advisor, South Centre and Mr. James Love of KEI;

Track 2:  Achieving Food Security, Challenges and Issues in Africa. Speaker: Mr. Mamadou Goita, IRPAD/Afrique, Mali.  Panel Members: Ms. Bell Batta Torheim, Norwegian Development Fund and Prof. Lise Korsten, Faculty of Natural Agricultural Science, University of Pretoria.

Plenary 4: Topic: Challenges & Issues in Protecting Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources & Traditional Cultural Expression of Africa.  Speakers:  Ms. Chee Yoke Ling, Director, Third World Network and Mr. Wend Wendland, WIPO, Head: Traditional Knowledge.  Panel Members:  Professor Carlos Correa, Special Advisor, South Centre and Mr. MacDonald Netshitenzhe, Chief Director, DTI.

These presentations showed the intricacies and difficulties around legislating indigenous or traditional knowledge.  WIPO’s IGC Committee has been working on these issues since its inception in October 2000, with no solution as yet.  It is hoped that a draft document will be made public in due course.  The Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa seems intent on pursuing the route of amending its IP legislation to include traditional knowledge works through its controversial IP Amendment Bill (2010). The general feeling amongst speakers and delegates is that a ‘sui generis’ system would be a more workable solution. 

The closing address was given by Dr. Valanathan Munsami, DDG, Research, Development and Innovation, Dept. of Science and Technology.

All in all, there were excellent presentations and lively discussions with constructive debates amongst stakeholders present. The mix of international, regional and local speakers and delegates made this an interesting and worthwhile conference. It is hoped that there will be positive outcomes from this conference and that the DTI will publish its long-awaited IP Policy in the near future.