[Ip-health] Libraries Support LDC extension
ssangeeta at myjaring.net
Mon Mar 4 08:12:39 PST 2013
Tomorrow the TRIPS Council will be discussing the request of the WTO LDC
Group on extension of the transition period contained in IP/C/583.
Below is a statement by Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), 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,
The statement is also available at
Third World Network
EIFL STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE REQUEST FOR A FURTHER EXTENSION OF THE
TRANSITION PERIOD FOR LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES (LDCS)
UNDER ARTICLE 66.1 OF THE TRIPS AGREEMENT
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
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 ³graduate² 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 medicines.
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
nation¹s comparative advantage. In addition, innovation and technological
progress that is replacing production and other traditional growth factors
in today¹s knowledge society, is estimated to contribute up to 50% to a
country¹s 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
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
Rome, 1 March 2013
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