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ACA2K South Africa Node

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ACA2K South Africa Team

South Africa ACA2K Country Node

Dr. Tobias Schonwetter

Principal Investigator & South Africa research team member, University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa

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Ms. Caroline Ncube

South Africa research team member, University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa

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Ms. Pria Chetty

South Africa research team member, Chetty Law, Johannesburg, South Africa

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ACA2K South Africa Country Rationale (Back to top)

The South African context was an important one for the ACA2K research because, among other things, of the country's role as Africa's strongest economy (with a strong publishing sector), and the government's role in the African Group of the WIPO "Friends of Development" (FoD) grouping of nations.

South Africa was also, at the onset of ACA2K, home to several projects and centres looking at the intersection between copyright and knowledge access, including Creative Commons (cc) South Africa, The African Commons Project (TACP), the Publishing with Alternative Licensing Models (PALM Africa) project,  the University of Cape Town (UCT) Intellectual Property Law and Policy Research Unit, and the LINK Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Two members of the South African ACA2K research team, Tobias Schonwetter and Caroline Ncube, were members of what was then called the UCT Intellectual Property Law and Policy Research Unit (later re-named the IP Unit), which was officially established in 2007.
The LINK Centre, which managed the ACA2K project, hosted the pioneering 2005-07 Commons-Sense Project: Towards an African Digital Commons, funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and helped launch Creative Commons South Africa in that same year.
Another pioneering South African-based project in the area of copyright and knowledge access was the 2004-06 Access to Learning Materials in Southern Africa (A2LMSA) initiative, funded by the Open Society Institute (OSI) and managed by Achal Prabhala, who now serves as an ACA2K Principal Investigator.

South Africa is also home to the Shuttleworth Foundation, which is one of the ACA2K funders and was until recently the base for ACA2K Advisor Andrew Rens, who helped establish the ACA2K project while serving as the foundation's Intellectual Property Fellow in the period 2007-09.

The copyright law and policy environment had been a highly contested one in South Africa in the years leading up to the ACA2K Project, with two attempts at copyright law reform meeting with significant opposition and subsequently being abandoned. The status of copyright reform was uncertain when ACA2K began, with the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) saying it would soon embark on a review process.

South Africa and neighbouring countries in Southern Africa were a site of struggle in the period 2003 to 2006 around US efforts to include "TRIPs-plus" copyright provisions in a free trade agreement (FTA). The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) sought to negotiate an FTA with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) group of countries: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. The draft FTA reportedly included TRIPs-plus provisions such as copyright terms beyond 50 years and entrenchment of the use of technological protection measures (TPMs). The FTA talks stalled after lack of support from SACU negotiators.

Research Outputs (Back to top)

Legislation (Back to top)


Secondary Literature (Back to top)


Copeling, A.J.C. Copyright and the Act of 1978 (1978) Butterworths, Durban.

Dean, O.H.
Handbook of South African copyright law, loose-leaf (1987) Juta, Cape Town.

Gibson, J.T.R.
South African mercantile and company law (2003) 8ed Juta, Cape Town.

Rens, A., Prabhala, A. and Kawooya, D.
Intellectual property, education and access to knowledge in Southern Africa (2006) TRALAC Report. Available at
http://www.iprsonline.org/unctadictsd/docs/06%2005%2031%20tralac%20amended-pdf.pdf [Accessed 27 January 2010].

Schonwetter, T.
‘The “fair use” doctrine and the implications of digitising for the doctrine from a South African perspective’ (2006) 7 Southern African Journal of Information and Communication 32. Available at
http://link.wits.ac.za/journal/journal-07.html [Accessed 1 April 2010].

Smith, A.
Copyright companion (1995) Butterworths, Durban.


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