by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
africa, ip

Will Proposed Pan-Africa Intellectual Property Organization Enable The West To Impose Its Monopolies?

from the what's-in-it-for-Africans? dept

Back in May, Techdirt pointed to a presentation from Mike Palmedo listing a wide range of research that demonstrates the lack of a connection between policies introducing stricter IP laws or enforcement and economic growth or innovation. Apparently, the African Union Scientific, Technical and Research Commission didn't get around to reading that post, since it has produced a draft statute for the creation of a new Pan-Africa Intellectual Property Organization that seems based entirely on assuming this link exists.

Here's how Brook K. Baker, a US law professor specializing in this area, describes these plans over on

The statute, drafted by true believers of IP-maximalist ideology, proposes to establish a region-wide intellectual property organization with the sole agenda of expanding IP rights, strengthening enforcement, harmonizing regional legislation, and eventually facilitating the granting of IP monopolies by a central granting authority that may well be legally binding on Member States.
One reason the proposal is so bad is that, once again, all the benefits flow to rightsholders at the expense of users:
Throughout the proposed legislation, there is not one reference to achieving a balance between the interests of rightholders and users of technology and creative endeavors. There is not a word on preserving permitted limitations or exceptions to IPRs or controlling misuse of IP monopolies. There is not a single commitment to withstanding pressures from the US and EU for ever expanding intellectual property rights that are longer, stronger and broader nor for the draconian enforcement obligations that suppress legitimate competition and impose costly border, criminal, and civil enforcement obligations on Africa taxpayers.
The draft will be considered at a meeting of African science and technology ministers in the Republic of Congo in November. If you want to read the details, the proposed text is available (as a Microsoft Word file) from the Intellectual Property Watch site.

It's particularly disappointing that this hugely retrogressive move should be proposed at a time when African innovation is really starting to take off, with a number of tech hubs emerging across the continent. The present proposals seem likely to throttle those exciting developments, because they will impose a neo-colonial IP framework on Africa that will see it ruthlessly exploited by Western companies thanks to their copyright and patent monopolies, just as its physical resources were expropriated in the 19th century.

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  • icon
    The eejit (profile), 26 Oct 2012 @ 1:32am

    Don't call it "retrogressive". That implies that this is a legitimate action.

    Call it what it is: "Repressive". Becaus eit does literally nothing for Africa, but lots against it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), 26 Oct 2012 @ 1:52am

    What is a rights holder?

    A ‘rightsholder’ is a euphemistic term for someone who is privileged with the suspension of your rights and the commercial exploitation thereof, e.g. as in ‘testiclesholder’ (it is not their goolies they’ve been granted a grip on, but yours).

    Thus those who are privileged with the holding of your right to copy or build upon the works of art you may purchase are known as ‘copyright holders’. This is because your natural right to copy was suspended in the 18th century to create this privilege of ‘copyright’. Your right to copy, like all natural rights, is supposed to be inalienable, but such wee technicalities may be pushed aside in the favour of commerce and those merchants who lobby so handsomely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2012 @ 3:22am

    if any of the entertainment industries can see the prospect of making more money by imposing as many restrictions as possible on to more people, even though those people are in the main as poor as piss, they will do it! their greed knows no bounds!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Real Michael, 26 Oct 2012 @ 4:54am

    Don't you know that copying is a special privilege reserved exclusively for upper-class aristocrats seeikng to exploit the peasan... err, populace?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 26 Oct 2012 @ 5:23am

    Future execs...

    The entertainment industry will have a great pool of talent to choose from there. All of the 419 scammers will be perfect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    @notmecharles, 26 Oct 2012 @ 6:12am

    Innovation in africa

    Enforcing their agenda will be very difficult for the policy writers. I hope our youth put a stop to this madness.
    I've read the Manchester Manifesto and found it to be a compelling thoughtful debate against copyrights. Wish there could be more thoughtful politicians in office!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Oct 2012 @ 7:22am

    Text Books

    Will this mean that text book prices in Africa can be raised to American levels?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ahmed Abdel Latif, 7 Nov 2012 @ 11:05am

    Petition on Pan African African Intellectual Organization

    Thanks for the post on this important issue
    There is a petition circulating on this matter that echoes these concerns "A new course for the Pan African Intellectual Property Organization is urgently needed"
    It can be signed at: tion-is-urgently-needed

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2013 @ 1:52am

    All the glits as an avenue to exploit the african market... I wonder who those advocating for this move are? Definitely western powers and china's take on this. Once again the puppeteers waves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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