[A2k] EIFL statement in support of LCD TRIPs waiver

Teresa Hackett teresa.hackett at eifl.net
Mon Mar 4 07:00:57 PST 2013

Dear colleagues,

Ahead of the WTO TRIPS Council meeting this week, EIFL has issued a
statement in support of the request by least developed countries
(LDCs) for an extension, without pre-condition, of the LDC transition
period, in the interests of access to knowledge, libraries and



Download PDF

Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) is an international
not-for-profit organization dedicated to enabling access to knowledge
for education, learning, research and sustainable community
development through libraries in more than 60 developing and
transition countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. EIFL
works with national library consortia in the following Least Developed
Countries: Ethiopia, Laos, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal,
Senegal, Uganda, Zambia.

EIFL supports the request of the 5th November 2012 to the WTO TRIPS
Council by the Delegation of Haiti on behalf of the LDC Group for an
unconditional extension of the LDC transition period, until a Member
ceases to be a LDC (IP/C/W/583).

LDCs, classified by the UN as the most impoverished and economically
vulnerable countries, by definition face human, financial and
technological constraints. By according a transition period for
implementation of the TRIPS Agreement through Article 66.1, WTO
Members recognize the special requirements of LDCs and their need for
policy flexibility.

The protection afforded by Article 66.1 aids the development of
domestic technological and creative capacity to assist LDCs to
“graduate” from LDC status. Achieved by Botswana, Cape Verde and most
recently by the Maldives, the goal is to halve the number of LDCs in
the next 10 years. So while the need for Article 66.1 is just as
pressing today for those countries that are LDCs, the projections are
for fewer countries in the LDC category in future. Therefore the
request for certainty – that the transition period applies until a
Member ceases to be a LDC – is reasonable and fair, as it will serve
to quicken the emergence from LDC status.

In line with the above premise, we believe that it is
counter-intuitive to place conditions or to exclude certain areas,
such as copyright, from the request. Placing a constraint on one
element of a nascent domestic IP system that is inter-connected will
hinder development. For example, a viable technological and industrial
base requires a strong R&D sector. R&D capacity is created and
nurtured by a quality education system, that in turn depends upon
access to global information resources and learning support services
provided by academic and research libraries. Furthermore, Article 66.1
does not allow for the attachment of conditions to the granting of a
duly motivated extension request.

Libraries have a public mission, often governed by statute, to enable
the advancement of knowledge necessary for educational, scientific and
development purposes including across territorial borders in order to
fulfill the promise of the digital age. In developing countries,
students and scholars often rely entirely on the university library to
provide learning and research materials needed for their courses.

Copyright law regulates access to such knowledge-based goods.
Copyright is a core issue for libraries because it governs the
acquisition and lending of materials, such as the price and
availability of books; the ability to purchase books from abroad; the
costs of licensing electronic resources; interlibrary document supply.
Copyright underpins essential library functions including digital
preservation; copying for research and private purposes; serving
people with disabilities with accessible format copies.

The Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, an independent group
of eminent experts established by the British government in 2001, held
that from the wider public policy perspective, it believes that it is
just as important to ensure that people in developing countries have
better access to knowledge, as it is to ensure they have access to
other essential inputs for development such as food, water and

More than a decade on, access to knowledge has assumed a key position
for development. The World Bank states that the ability to produce and
use knowledge has become a major factor in development and is critical
to a nation’s comparative advantage. In addition, innovation and
technological progress that is replacing production and other
traditional growth factors in today’s knowledge society, is estimated
to contribute up to 50% to a country’s economic development.

However, the IPR Commission reached the conclusion that the inevitable
impact of stronger protection and enforcement, as required by TRIPS,
will be to reduce access to knowledge-related products in developing
countries, with potentially damaging consequences for poor people.

Consequently, we believe that LDCs must not be forced to adopt higher
TRIPS standards of protection, such as for databases and the
three-step test. LDCs should not have to take on costly obligations
with regard to enforcement measures, such as the establishment of new
criminal procedures and border controls. Instead scarce resources
should be used to develop essential services, including investment in
education and well-resourced libraries.

LDCs must be allowed to craft copyright systems including exceptions
and limitations to suit their own economic social, and technological
conditions without the threat of trade sanctions used by trading
partners to enforce TRIPS obligations.

In the interests of access to knowledge, libraries and development, we
appeal to WTO Members to accede to the request by the LDC Group
without pre-condition.

Rome, 1 March 2013



Teresa Hackett
EIFL-IP Programme Manager
Follow EIFL on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/eIFL.net

Teresa Hackett
EIFL-IP Programme Manager
Follow EIFL on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/eIFL.net

More information about the A2k mailing list