Nairobi: WIPO regional meeting 2019

Athanasios VenitsanopoulosAfrica, News, WIPO

In June, representatives from 45 African countries gathered in Nairobi, Kenya at a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) regional meeting to discuss how to facilitate access to copyright-protected works in libraries, educational institutions, museums and archives. IAF was represented by Dr Samuel Makore and Dr Temitope Olaifa and the meeting was an opportunity for WIPO to share its consideration for these institutions and for representatives of authors, cultural sectors, creative industries and other groups to have their say.

During brainstorming sessions, groups of observers from IGOs, NGOs and other stakeholders from the African region considered issues regarding the implementation of copyright limitations and exceptions. Concerns raised included unbridled access to copyright materials inadvertently creating infringement and creating a deprivation of the copyright owner’s economic and moral rights. The challenge of monitoring extended use of materials accessed through exceptions was raised as a concern. Significant potential for digital and physical copying among students can jeopardise the economic interests of the author to an unknown extent, a fact that is particularly concerning when an author relies on revenue from educational uses by the nature of their work.

Other delegations attending included representatives from the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Publishers Association (IPA) with authors and publishers from Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and South Africa. IFRRO made the case for strengthening the role of collective management organisations (CMOs) in the member states which IAF welcomed, supporting the case for fair and effective licensing as a means to properly consider and reward how an author’s work is used.

WIPO was clear on its support for exceptions relating to accessibility for cultural works and considered amendments to its work-based input from observers. At the close of this meeting, African member states along with WIPO, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and partner organisations adopted the Nairobi declaration, marking the first time a common African strategy on copyright has been developed. IAF was happy to see that the declaration included measures to support authors such as support for CMOs.

We appreciated the opportunity to take part in this seminar and IAF will continue to engage with WIPO on these issues and looks forward to supporting the development of balanced policy on copyright around the world.

Dr Samuel Makore is the Vice-Chair of IAF

Dr Tope Olaifa is a creative writer and an academic based in Nigeria