Costa Rican Students Fight For The Right To Photocopy Textbooks
from the lessons-to-be-learned dept
One of the most important pieces of research to emerge last year was “Media Piracy in Emerging Economies“. A central theme was that much unauthorized copying around the world is driven by attempts to impose Western-level prices everywhere, resulting in media goods that are simply beyond the reach of most people in countries whose economies are still developing.
Here’s an interesting story from Costa Rica, where the same effects are playing out in education:
Thousands of students participated in a march in San José on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, protesting for their right to photocopy textbooks for educational purposes. The unrest was caused by President Chinchilla vetoing Bill 17342 (known as the ‘Photocopying Law’) which seeks to amend Law No 8039 on Procedures for Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, on the grounds that it removes protection of the work and intellectual property in the artistic, literary and technological areas.
As the article on infojustice.org notes, that veto was prompted at least in part by lobbying from publishers who charge unrealistically high prices for their textbooks, which then drives students to use photocopies instead.
It’s interesting that large numbers of Costa Rican students felt strongly enough about this issue to take to the streets — rather as thousands of their contemporaries did in Europe over ACTA earlier this year. That’s evidence that this isn’t simply a case of people wanting to get “something for nothing”, as copyright apologists might try to frame it. Rather, this is about a group who depend on unauthorized copies in order to gain access to knowledge that is vital for their studies, but which is otherwise unaffordable thanks to monopoly pricing.