Section 1 – the global intellectual property system is privatising humanity’s common cultural heritage

НазваниеSection 1 – the global intellectual property system is privatising humanity’s common cultural heritage
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Issues in the economics, politics, and ideology of copyright in the global South

Edited by

Alan Story

Colin Darch

and Debora Halbert

Researched and published by

The Copy/South Research Group

May 2006

Published by the Copy / South Research Group


E-mail address:

ISBN: 978-0-9553140-0-1 (downloadable online edition)

978-0-9553140-1-8 (printed edition)


Not restricted by copyright






1.1 Introduction

1.2 How privatisation and monopolisation discourage creativity and invention

1.3 Why this tendency is against the interests of creators and society in general

1.4 Monopoly ownership and its consequences for artistic expression

1.5 Average artists and conglomerates cannot benefit from the same copyright system


2.1 Introduction

2.2 Calculating copyright-related capital flows from the global periphery to the centre

2.3 From TRIPS to TRAP: Free Trade Agreements and copyright

2.4 Reprographic collecting societies and their projected growth in the South

2.5 How much of this capital flow is related to copyright?

2.6 How ‘national treatment’ increases the net outflow of capital from the South


3.1 Introduction

3.2 The basic values and ideology of copyright

3.3 The differing traditions of cultural creation in the South

3.4 Culture and creativity in the Arab countries

3.5 Traditional/indigenous knowledge and copyright: a complex issue.

3.6 The criminalisation of copying in the South and the ‘piracy’ question

3.7 The privatisation of common culture proceeds in the South, at a quickening pace.

3.8 Western cultural conglomerates and the global marketing of culture from the global South

3.9 The role of the World Intellectual Property Organisation in spreading the copyright system and its narratives to countries of the South


4.1 Introduction

4.2 Extending copyright terms extends privatisation

4.3 Distance learners kept from study materials: experiences from Kenya

4.4 How copyright hinders librarians in providing services to library users

4.5 Copyright laws add to other restrictions on learning in rural South Africa: an October 2005 survey from Mpumalanga

4.6 Copyright gets in the way when teachers want to provide student course & study packs

4.7 An academic from Colombia tries hard to do his research … with great difficulty

4.8 Using the Internet in the South: a tangled web of copyright toll-gates and “keep out” messages

4.9 Using intellectual property laws to prop up proprietary computer software

4.10 The visually impaired in the South: shut out of reading by copyright roadblocks

4.11 How copyright presumptions trump translation possibilities … and limit the sharing of knowledge

4.12 Three legal questions related to access

4.13 Copyright and cultural domination by the North: a long-standing conflict that is getting sharper


5.1 Introduction

5.2 A brief history of Southern resistance to copyright’s laws and assumptions

5.3 National or regional movements opposing TRIPS as interference in their cultural life

5.4 Venezuela initiative on the rights of authors

5.5 Resisting the privatisation of cultural life

5.6 Possible alternatives to copyright in the South

5.7 The A2K (Access to Knowledge) treaty group

5.8 Free software: a viable and cheaper alternative

5.9 The Creative Commons approach

5.10 The Canto Livre example from Brazil

5.11 Open access journals and open archiving initiatives

5.12 Co-ordinating activities across the South

5.13 Satire and art as resistance

5.14 Co-operation in the South as part of wider intellectual property activism


6.1 Some closing words

6.2 Glossary of fifty copyright terms, phrases, and copyright-related organisations which are used in the Copy/South Dossier

Index of the C/S Dossier


This dossier is addressed to readers who want to learn more about the global role of copyright and, in particular, its largely negative role in the global South. In the 190 or so pages of text that follow, we in the Copy/South Research Group, who have researched and debated these issues over the past 12 month, have tried to critically analyse and assess a wide range of copyright-related issues that impact on the daily lives (and future lives) of those who live in the global South.

Perhaps the easiest way to explain the aims and objectives of the Copy/South Dossier is to state what they are not… and to whom it is not addressed. This dossier is not a policy brief directed mainly at experts in copyright law or specialists in development economics. It does not contain page after numbing page of dry and often abstract formulations about the legal, social, political, and economic aspects of the increasingly contested topic of copyright. Yes, this dossier certainly does discuss a wide range of policy questions because copyright is a very political question and existing approaches to knowledge and access can certainly be changed. But it does so in a manner which, we hope, will bring these questions ‘alive’, show the direct human stakes of the many debates, and make the issues accessible to those who want to go beyond the platitudes, half-truths, and serious distortions that often plague discussions of this topic.

Nor is the dossier primarily addressed to policy makers (such as bureaucrats at the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva), or to executives of large multi-national corporations (the Rupert Murdoch’s and Bill Gates’ of this world) or to those who are working, often with huge financial resources, to uphold and perpetuate the current global and domestic copyright regimes. These people, their companies, and their organisations are fully aware of many of the comments and criticisms made in this dossier, admittedly often put forward previously and currently in a more partial and tentative way. Some of the same criticisms included here were made, for example, in the 1960’s by then newly-independent countries in the South during a period labelled the ‘international crisis of copyright’. Others were voiced in 2004 and 2005 as part of the ‘development agenda’ being led by 13 governments from the South. But those promoting the current copyright system have not listened or acted. (In fact, since the 1995 signing of the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)1 they have made these intellectual property regimes even more restrictive and even more impenetrable barriers to knowledge access). Instead, the main intended audience is information ‘activists’, those working at the copyright ‘coal face’, such as librarians and teachers, anti-globalisation activists, cultural workers, such as writers and musicians, and NGOs. We particularly encourage all of you to join in the debate

To be clear, this document is not a manifesto. When you start reading this publication you will appreciate, almost from page one, that there is not a single point of view being expressed. This is deliberate. Instead of providing a check list or recipe book for reform or attempting to give all of the answers to some very difficult questions, it is intended to open up – and re-open in some cases – an often-ignored debate and to pose what we think are some of the more pressing questions for further research and action. For example, we think it more important to figure out ways that illiterate people can read their first book – something that current copyright laws often restrict (though they are certainly not the only barrier) – than how to protect e-books. We are asking, as well, if the purpose of copyright law is to provide copyright protection to cake recipes, as has recently been tried in Italy.2 And for us, cultural diversity is far more important than the promotion of an increasingly globalised (and copyright-protected) single culture. The emphasis in this dossier is more on critique and expose rather than on solutions, though we also examine some alternatives and reforms in Section Five. This is, as the dictionary defines the word ‘dossier’, a “collection or bundle of papers giving detailed information about a particular… subject.” And while we hope that all of the more than 50 articles included here are provocative and well-researched, they are not the final word on our still much under-researched subject: copyright in countries of the global South, a term we prefer to the more commonly-used phrase ‘developing countries.’ (We prefer it because, many countries in the South in Asia, Africa, and South America are not actually developing and we reject the notion that travelling along the same development path previously travelled by ‘developed countries’ is the only way forward for more than three-quarters of the world’s population).

Two points require clarification. Most studies on copyright focus primarily on the situation in the United States, Europe, and other rich countries. By focusing primarily on conditions in the South, we do not mean to imply that many of the conditions and problems we highlight are unique to the South; many of the same conditions also prevail in rich Northern (Western) countries. Yet, there are some particular problems in the South and some problems that bite with particular ferocity here. And if Southern manifestations ---and possible solutions – are not specifically highlighted, they are often forgotten about entirely or passed over in a sentence or two. It is often assumed, wrongly, that the access situation in Boston or Berlin or Brisbane is the same as that being faced in Bogotá or Beirut or Bangalore, let alone in their rural hinterlands. Second, we also recognise that ‘the South’ is not a homogenous area either and again, we do not intend to imply that the copyright situation across the three continents and the more than 150 countries of the global South is similar.

As you start to read this text, you may ask: how did the Copy/South dossier come into being? A first and draft version was prepared for a four-day intensive workshop held in August 2005 at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom and organised by the Copy/South Research Group. Of the 22 people who attended this ‘by invitation only’ session, more than 15 were from countries of the South. (See the list of those attending below). At this lively and informative session, the draft dossier was subjected to some sharp criticisms; numerous suggestions for improvement were made, and additional articles and research angles proposed. A second version was circulated internally in January 2006. Further changes were made and this third version is the public version. It is a work of North/South collaboration, a product of the sharing of knowledge.

The editors of this dossier are: Alan Story (United Kingdom), Colin Darch (South Africa), and Debora Halbert (United States).

Those who have contributed to this dossier (most of whom attended the C/S workshop) are: Adam Mannan (United Kingdom), Akalemwa Ngenda (Zambia), Beatriz Busaniche (Argentina), Denise Nicholson (South Africa), Federico Heinz (Argentina), Jennifer de Beer (South Africa), Norah Mugambi (Kenya), Joost Smiers (The Netherlands), José António Torres Reyes (Mexico), Juan Publio Triana Cordoví (Cuba), Lawrence Liang (India ), Maud Stephan (Lebanon), Roberto Verzola (The Philippines), Ronaldo Lemos (Brazil), Shishir Kumar Jha (India), Zapopan Martin Muela-Meza (Mexico), Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza (Brazil), Papa Toumané Ndiaye (Senegal), Majid Yar (United Kingdom), Teresa Hackett (Ireland), Colin Darch, Debora Halbert and Alan Story. Special thanks to graphic artists Ulrike Brueckner and Sebastian Luctgert of Germany for their contributions to the online and printed version of this dossier. And particular thanks to William Abrams of the United States who undertook the important job of creating an index for the dossier.

You will notice that the authors and editors of the various sections, articles, and introductions are not specifically identified. Again this is intentional as the dossier is the work of many people who have pooled their knowledge and differing experiences. And it should be emphasised that every person listed above does not necessarily agree with or endorse all of the contents of the entire dossier.

We wish to thank the following organisations for their financial support of the Copy/South Research Group: 1) The Open Society Institute, Budapest, Hungary; 2) HIVOS, The Hague, The Netherlands; 3) The Research Fund of Kent Law School, Canterbury, Kent UK.

If you wish to contact the C/S group for any reason – for example, to make criticisms of the dossier, to give your own examples, to join in the future research effort – our e-mail address is:

This dossier is not restricted by copyright. Feel free to distribute it, to photocopy it, to translate it into other languages, to change its format, to link to the C/S website from your own website, or to quote from it in your own research, writing, or activism. We request only that you state where (the Copy/South dossier) the material initially appeared.

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