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2011.09.29 13:09:48
Chris Armstrong

Un projet de suivi intitulé Open African Innovation Research and Training (Open AIR), qui s'inscrit dans le prolongement du projet ACA2K (D2ASA en français), vient d'être lancé.
Basé à l'Unité de recherche sur le droit et les politiques en matière de propriété intellectuelle de l'Université du Cap et avec le soutien de l'IDRC du Canada et de la BMZ d'Allemagne, le réseau Open AIR explorera les relations entre la propriété intellectuelle, l'innovation ouverte et le développement en Afrique.
Le projet se poursuivra jusqu'à fin 2013 et l'UCT recevra un soutien à la mise en œuvre du Centre de recherche en droit, technologie et société de l'Université d'Ottawa.
Open AIR examinera la dynamique d'approches innovantes et souples vis-à-vis de divers types de propriété intellectuelle en Afrique, y compris le droit d'auteur, les brevets et les indications géographiques et il approfondira la pertinence de ces approches pour le développement.
Le projet a déjà lancé sa recherche par études de cas dans plusieurs pays en Afrique du Nord, en Afrique de l'Ouest, en Afrique de l'Est et en Afrique australe et son site web sera bientôt en ligne. Les résultats des recherches d'Open AIR seront mis à la disposition du public au cours de la deuxième moitié de 2012. C'est alors, et sur la base des résultats de recherche, que débuteront les activités de formation et d'engagement politique du projet.
Le Chef de projet d'Open AIR à l'Université du Cap est Nan Warner, que l'on peut joindre à l'adresse suivante : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Posté le 28 septembre 2011 par Chris Armstrong, Directeur de recherche d'ACA2K, à Nairobi

La version française du livre d'ACA2K sortira en octobre

le 28 septembre 2011
Une version en langue française du livre d'ACA2K, intitulée L'accès au savoir en Afrique : le rôle du droit d'auteur et éditée par les Presses de l'Université Laval, est actuellement au dernier stade de la composition. L'ouvrage est publié sous contrat Creative Commons Attribution-Non commerciale-Partage à l'identique 2.5 Canada.
En octobre 2011 le livre sera imprimé et disponible à l'achat en copie papier auprès des Presses de l'Université Laval.
En même temps, l'ouvrage sera mis à disposition en téléchargement sur les sites web d'ACA2K et IDRC.
La version en langue anglaise, intitulée Access to Knowledge in Africa: The Role of Copyright et éditée par UCT Press sous contrat Creative Commons Attribution-Non commerciale-Partage à l'identique 2.5 Afrique du Sud est déjà disponible en ligne.


Comments 3 Hits: 24118  

2011.02.07 14:45:50
Chris Armstrong

ACA2K Senegal research team members Assane Faye and Nogaye Ndour are supporting The Copy South Research Group in convening a workshop on copyright issues at the World Social Forum (WSF) 2011 in Dakar this week. Copy South's Alan Story, who teaches intellectual property law in the UK, will be one of the speakers at the workshop, which is scheduled to start at 16h00 on Tuesday 8 February.

Copy South, which is sponsoring the session, says it will be: " [a] workshop to examine the negative effects of copyright on the peoples of Africa, including Senegal, and how these restrictive laws prevent the sharing of knowledge and culture. We will look at how copyright impacts negatively on libraries, schools and students, musicians and other cultural workers."

Interpretation will be provided in French, English and Wolof, and members of the A2K community participating in WSF Dakar are encouraged to attend.

Posted 7 February 2011 by ACA2K Research Manager Chris Armstrong, Nairobi


Comments 2 Hits: 12712  

2011.01.18 12:51:23
Chris Armstrong

Four ACA2K project members -- Lead Researcher Dr. Dick Kawooya, Principal Investigator Dr. Tobias Schonwetter, South African researcher Caroline Ncube and project advisor Andrew Rens -- are among the delegates from around the world gathered this week at the University of Cape Town (UCT) for the A2K Global Academy conference.

The A2K Global Academy, spearhead by the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale University, is a network of academic centres dedicating themselves to research, education and policy engagement on access to knowledge (A2K) matters. The Academy has partners in Brazil, Canada, China, Ethiopia, India, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, the United States and two ACA2K study countries: Egypt and South Africa.

The gathering at UCT runs today and tomorrow, 18-19 January.

Posted 18 January 2011
By ACA2K Research Manager Chris Armstrong, Nairobi


Comments 2 Hits: 14729  

2010.11.24 08:02:22
Denise Nicholson

Denise Nicholson, ACA2K Policy & Dissemination Advisor and Copyright Services Librarian at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, has recently been invited to a number of important copyright and access to knowledge workshops regionally and internationally.  

Nicholson was invited as an African copyright expert to assist the AU and the WIPO African Group in their meeting in early November in Geneva. She was not able to attend that meeting, but has been communicating with the African Group regarding their proposal on copyright limitations and exceptions to the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), providing the negotiators with information and references on copyright and A2K issues.    

Nicholson  was then invited to present on the ACA2K project at the UNESCO/eIFL/ASSAf Regional Workshop on Open Access held this week in Pretoria, on 22 and 23 November. Nicholson is the South African representative for the eIFL-IP Project. 

Nicholson has also been invited by the Danish National Commission for UNESCO to present on "Open Access from an African Perspective," and to outline the recommendations from the above-mentioned Regional Workshop, at a meeting in Copenhagen on 6 December.

24 November 2010


  Open Access; A2K: UNESCO; ASSAf; eI
Comments 1 Hits: 12322  

2010.11.23 14:34:44

ACA2K Lead Researcher Dr. Dick Kawooya was in Geneva from 6 to 8 November to work 
on copyright matters with negotiators from the African Union (AU) and the WIPO African Group (AG) nations.

The AU and the AG are drafting a treaty proposal on copyright limitations and exceptions (L&Es) for libraries,
archives, education and individuals with visual impairments. This proposal is to be considered as part of WIPO's ongoing
discussions around the possibility of an international treaty on L&Es.

is one of the African experts invited by the AU and the AG to help African negotiators
prepare for the next round of WIPO negotiations on this matter.


Comments 2 Hits: 10915  

2010.11.01 08:20:00
Denise Nicholson

It is good to see that more books are being published on the topic of access to knowledge.  MIT Press has just published "Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property". It may be downloaded free of charge.

This book is a good read for educators, librarians and others interested in freedom of expression and access to knowledge.  It will also provide good reading for other stakeholders involved in intellectual property matters.

As James Boyle of Duke University and author of The Public Domain states: "This is a must-have for university libraries, but it is also something that will be read intently, tactically, and sometimes uneasily, in venues ranging from WIPO to the university classroom. Highly recommended."



Denise Nicholson

1 November 2010

This article is the personal viewpoint  of the author, Denise Rosemary Nicholson (   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and does not purport to be the viewpoint/opinion of her institution or any other organisation or individual.


  access to knowledge; A2K; intellect
Comments 2 Hits: 11858  

2010.10.21 10:55:52
Denise Nicholson

Around the world, international Open Access Week has been celebrated this week (18-23 October 2010).  Celebrations of opening up and sharing information, research and cultural heritage have also been held at many higher educational institutions and libraries in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa.

There are many definitions of Open Access and various Open Access Declarations, such as the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Science & Humanities, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access, and the Salvador Declaration on Open Access, which show more and more institutions around the world are adopting Open access.
Many publishers deposit preprints or postprints, (and some even allow the final PDF versions), into institutional repositories or research archives.  Many institutions have either adopted or are considering adopting a Mandate for their academic staff to deposit copies of their research papers and publications in their institutional repositories or research archives. 

For developing countries, where the cost of textbooks and other learning materials, electronic databases, e-books, etc. are very expensive and library budgets are constantly being cut because of lack of resources, Open Access publishing  ('the Gold' route) and Institutional repositories (the 'Green' route) are very positive alternatives to enable educators, researchers, authors, publishers, and other information-users to access information and research, but also to contribute to information and research on a global stage. Other developing and developed countries can benefit from African knowledge too.  Copyright clearances for developing countries are also expensive, since most of the works they reproduce are from works in developed countries.


  open access; research; africa; sout
Comments 1 Hits: 11899  

2010.08.26 08:01:27

A book outlining the ACA2K network's research findings on the relationship between copyright and learning materials access in Africa was launched at this year's Cape Town Book Fair. The launch featured a panel discussion with three members of the ACA2K research network: Dr. Marisella Ouma of Kenya and Pria Chetty and Dr. Tobias Schonwetter of South Africa. The workshop was hosted by the book's publisher, UCT Press, and Dr. Constance Freeman, IDRC's Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, acted as the panel moderator.
Following some general remarks by Freeman, Schonwetter briefly introduced the ACA2K project to the audience. Thereafter, Ouma explained some of the international dynamics of copyright protection, particularly the role of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and summarised the key findings from the Kenyan ACA2K research activities. Chetty subsequently spoke about some of the most important research findings from South Africa, and Schonwetter concluded the panel discussion by highlighting general trends that emerged from ACA2K's research in all eight African study countries, and offering recommendations as to how some of the most pressing problems could best be addressed.

In his presentation, Schonwetter emphasised, among other things, that Africa does not need stronger copyright laws because copyright laws in all eight study countries already fully comply with international copyright standards and in some instances even exceed these, eg, in as far as the copyright terms in Ghana, Mozambique and Senegal are concerned. At the same time, however, the scope of educational exceptions and limitations generally and for libraries and archives in particular is unclear, especially in the digital environment. Distance education or e-learning is not mentioned in any of the study countries' copyright laws and only Uganda's copyright law makes specific mention of the needs of disabled persons. Schonwetter also stressed that the copyright laws on the books in the study countries are so far removed from the day‐to‐day realities facing education systems in the study countries that enforcement is practically impossible if the existing moderate levels of learning materials access are to be preserved. Copyright-holders must also start to acknowledge that copyright laws that cannot be followed by the majority of society can generate resentment towards the underlying principles and thus undermine the respect for copyright on the whole. Ultimately, stakeholders must work together to bridge the gulf between national copyright laws and prevailing (infringing) practices for accessing learning materials.

After the panel discussion, members of the audience were able to ask questions for about 20 minutes before Khaled Fourati of the IDRC and the Shuttleworth Foundation's Karien Bezuidenhout, in their respective closing remarks, expressed the project funders' delight with what the ACA2K project has achieved.

Posted by:
Dr. Tobias Schonwetter
ACA2K South Africa researcher
University of Cape Town (UCT)



Comments 1 Hits: 10917  

2010.07.06 13:05:50
Chris Armstrong

The African Commons Project (TACP) has launched a petition, in cooperation with South Africa's National Consumer Forum, calling on the South African Department of Trade and Industry (dti) to conduct a "consultative, development-focused Copyright Review."
The South African Copyright Act was promulgated in 1978 and has not been substantially amended since.
The dti has announced plans to review the Act, but the exact timing of the review is unclear.
The TACP/Consumer Forum petition, drafted with inputs from the ACA2K South Africa research team, calls for a wide range of stakeholders to be involved in the review, and for eventual revisions of the Act to reflect South Africa's status as a developing nation -- via provisions that maximise user/consumer access for purposes of education and innovation, including such access by disabled persons.
Those wishing to find out more about the petition should go to the TACP website: http://www.africancommons.org/.

Posted by:
Chris Armstrong
ACA2K Research Manager
LINK Centre, Wits University, Johannesburg


Comments 1 Hits: 10405  

2010.05.31 08:41:05
Denise Nicholson

The Global Research Report on Africa 2010 provides useful information about research trends in African countries, as well as problems and challenges on the continent.  The Feasibility Study on the AfricaConnect Initiative (Dec 2008-Dec 2009) highlights ICT challenges and opportunities in Africa and implications for African research.


  Copyright; africa; research
Comments 1 Hits: 15694  

2010.05.27 09:13:45
Denise Nicholson

In developed countries barely 5% of all published works are available in formats which are accessible to blind and visually impaired people. In developing countries, this number drops to a mere 0.5%.  So 99.5% of published books are inaccessible to blind and partially sighted South Africans.

The South African Copyright law exacerbates the problem as there are no provisions for persons with disabilities to convert material into accessible formats.


  Copyright; TVI; Blind; Disabled
Comments 0 Hits: 17034  

2010.05.24 09:12:40
Denise Nicholson

On 20 May 2010, the Intellectual Property Amendment Bill, 2010 (Traditional Knowledge) was presented to the Portfolio Committee for Trade and Industry by the Department of Trade and Industry.  Despite objections and recommendations made by many stakeholders through written submissions and at various public hearings around South Africa, the Bill is virtually the same as the original version published for comment in 2008.  Public hearings scheduled for May 2010 have now been postponed until July 2010 (dates unknown at this stage).

Apart from not including any limitations and exceptions for research, education, libraries and persons with sensory-disabilities, it fails to address a number of key issues and queries that stakeholders across the board have raised about the Bill, e.g. vague definitions for traditional knowledge works and indigenous communities, problem clauses, ownership by a National Trust, fixation issues around folklore, and many others.  

The results of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) commissioned by the Presidency and the Department of Trade and Industry during 2009 have not yet been made public.  For the sake of transparency, and before this Bill proceeds any further, it is incumbent on the Department of Trade and Industry to make the RIA open to the public and to inform the public why their recommendations and objections have been ignored to date.

Denise Nicholson
24 May 2010

This article is the personal view of the author, Denise Rosemary Nicholson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and does not purport to be the view/opinion of her institution or any other organisation or individual


  traditional knowledge; south africa
Comments 0 Hits: 15795  

2010.03.01 18:17:43
Denise Nicholson

In November 2004, the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Policy was adopted in South Africa. In May 2008, the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) published the Intellectual Property Amendment Bill in the Government Gazette for public comment. This Bill proposed to include traditional knowledge works as a category of protected work and to amend intellectual property legislation accordingly. This required amendments to be made to the Performers' Act of 1967; the Copyright Act of 1978; the Trade Marks Act of 1993 and the Designs Act of 1993.

Stakeholders across the board, including the tertiary sector, submitted objections and recommendations for changes to be made to the Bill before it was presented to Parliament. The DTI held various public hearings around the country during 2008 and again strong objections were raised and recommendations made by IP lawyers, librarians, academics, musicians, rights organisations and other stakeholders.  In a
Mail & Guardian Online article, Dr. Owen Dean of Spoor and Fisher slammed the Bill as an "abomination". Judge Louis Harms was also critical of the Bill. 


Comments 0 Hits: 20367  

2010.02.01 13:56:46
Marisella Ouma

The Stakeholders’ Workshop on Copyright Law Review in Kenya was held on Thursday January 28 in Nairobi. The main purpose of the workshop was to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to contribute to the law reform process. The workshop was organised by the Kenya Copyright Board. Both Dr. Ben Sihanya and Marisella Ouma of the Kenya ACA2K Research Team participated in the process.


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2010.01.19 08:32:49
Perihan Abou Zeid

In collaboraton with Geneva-based research group IQsensato, two ACA2K network members, Tobias Schonwetter (South Africa) and Perihan Abou Zeid (Egypt), represented ACA2K at the 19th meeting of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR 19) in Geneva, Switzerland, in December. The ACA2K delegation was able to present selected ACA2K research findings to the Africa Group at WIPO, and the ACA2K team’s presentation was well-received, with several members of the Africa Group expressing interest in being briefed in more detail about ACA2K’s findings at a later stage. Furthermore, ACA2K representatives distributed ACA2K’s third Geneva briefing paper, WIPO Briefing Paper 3, to delegates at WIPO.

Based on the briefing paper, ACA2K’s official statement to WIPO was made on the third day of SCCR’s deliberations. Several delegates commended the ACA2K team on the ground-breaking nature of the research and the country delegations of both Kenya and South Africa expressly referred to ACA2K research in their interventions at SCCR.


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2009.12.17 06:57:56
Denise Nicholson

ACA2K researchers are participating in this week's WIPO SCCR 19th Meeting in Geneva, which runs from 14 to 18 December. 

The ACA2Kers, Perihan Abou Zeid of Egypt and Tobias Schonwetter of South Africa, have launched
ACA2K Briefing Paper No. 3. And, in conjunction with research organisation IQsensato (based in Geneva), Schonwetter read a statement to SCCR.

The statement was as follows:
"Thank you Mr. Chairman. I speak on behalf of IQsensato, which welcomes the opportunity to speak at this session of the SCCR. IQsensato’s purpose is to provide an international platform for promoting the research and thinking of researchers and experts to inform and shape international policy debates and discussions such as the ones taking place in this Committee. It is in this context, IQsensato has been collaborating with the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Project (http://www.aca2k.org/index.php/); a project that has explored for over two years, through empirical research, the relationship between national intellectual property (IP) frameworks, particularly the copyright environments, and access to knowledge in African countries. The project covers eight African countries, namely Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.


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2009.12.16 15:39:14
Denise Nicholson

 The ACA2K South Africa Research Team -- Tobias Schonwetter, Caroline Ncube and Pria Chetty -- has presented its research findings at two policy stakeholder workshops, on 12 November at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and on 3 December at the Wits Graduate School of Public and Development Management (P&DM) in Johannesburg. UCT's Prof. Julian Kinderlerer gave the opening address at the Cape Town workshop, whilst Uganda's Dr. Dick Kawooya, the ACA2K Lead Researcher, opened the Johannesburg meeting. Also in attendance at the events were Fernando dos Santos of the ACA2K Mozambique Research Team and Denise Nicholson, the ACA2K Policy and Dissemination Advisor, both of whom gave presentations. 

See presentations by:


Fernando dos Santos

Denise Nicholson


Comments 0 Hits: 11878  

2009.12.16 15:09:32
Denise Nicholson

Denise Nicholson, ACA2K's Policy and Dissemination Advisor, gave a presentation on “Copyright in Africa” at a multi-stakeholder workshop hosted by the South African National Council for the Blind in Pretoria on 30 November.

At the same meeting, a Declaration in support of the World Blind Union’s proposed Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons (referred to as the "TVI") was adopted. It was adopted by all the representatives and supporters of the blind and visually-impaired communities who were present, including Nicholson on behalf of ACA2K. For more information, see http://a2knetwork.org/support-access-knowledge-visually-impaired and http://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/our-work/blogs/treaty-visually-impaired



Denise Nicholson
16 December 2009

This article is the personal view of the author, Denise Rosemary Nicholson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and does not purport to be the view/opinion of her institution or any other organisation or individual


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2009.11.23 09:11:23
Darshana Bhana

Jeremy Malcolm's picture Sun, 22/11/2009 - 13:14 - By Jeremy Malcolm of Consumers International

Consumers International and the African Copyright and A2Ki Project (ACA2K) this week held a successful workshop looking at the Global State of Copyright and Access to Knowledge at the 2009 meeting of the multi-stakeholder United Nations Internet Governance Forum in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. The session was moderated by Dr. Bassem Awad from ACA2K, who is also Chief Judge at the Egyptian Ministry of Justice.


Comments 0 Hits: 16335  

2009.11.18 13:49:33
Denise Nicholson

Two members of the ACA2K project -- Dr. Bassem Awad of the ACA2K Egypt Research Team and ACA2K Policy and Dissemination Advisor Denise Nicholson -- were invited by WIPO and the Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva, to speak at the African-Arab Regional Seminar on "Copyright Limitations and Exceptions: Addressing the Needs of Affected Constituencies" held in Cairo on 2 November. This seminar was in preparation for the WIPO SCCR 19 Meeting to be held in Geneva in mid-December.

Awad presented on “Dissemination and Use of Copyrighted Works for Education.” He discussed the copyright environment in Egypt and presented the research findings of the ACA2K Research Team in Egypt.

Nicholson presented on “Limitations and Exceptions for Libraries, Archives and Museums.” She discussed the international and regional copyright trends affecting access to knowledge in Africa and stressed the need for more balanced and appropriate copyright limitations and exceptions for developing and least-developed countries in Africa. She also promoted eIFL’s model law, as well as the Statement of Principles on ‘Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives’, presented by eIFL/IFLA/LCA at WIPO SCCR 18 in May 2009. Nicholson encouraged delegates to support the WBU Treaty for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Reading Disabled, as well the international library community’s planned recommendations to the SCCR in December.

The seminar was officially opened and closed by Ambassador Naela Gabr, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Organisations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt. Other WIPO dignitaries who welcomed delegates and gave brief introductory talks were Sherif Saadallah, Executive Director, Department of External Relations, WIPO, and Dr. Mohamed Nour Farahat, Director of the Copyright Protection Office, Cairo. WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry was not able to attend. See full list of WIPO officials and invited delegates, the programme and presentations.

A strong message came out of this seminar -- a message that it is crucial that the needs of developing countries be taken into account in international copyright frameworks and national copyright laws.

The day after the WIPO Cairo event, on 3 November, Nicholson represented IFLA's Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters (CLM) at WIPO's Third Stakeholders' Platform Meeting at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria. Issues connected to access to alternative formats for print-handicapped persons were discussed at this meeting.

Denise Nicholson

18 November 2009

This article is the personal view of the author, Denise Rosemary Nicholson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), and does not purport to be the view/opinion of her institution or any other organisation or individual


Comments 0 Hits: 12365  

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