The seminar followed a 2-day meeting of heads of copyright offices in African countries, which was focused on discussing some SCCR agenda items especially relevant for the region, such as the resale right, promoting ratification of current WIPO treaties and debating a copyright strategy for Africa. The copyright strategy, expected to be published soon, was approved by African Member States with the engagement of WIPO, African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle (OAPI) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), and is focused on promoting high-level action in Africa on policy, legal frameworks, securing the value chain and investing in capacity building for professionalization of industry.

The seminar gathered representatives of 45 African countries and many NGO observers, with pro-copyright and copyleft organizations equally represented. Following opening statements by Deputy Director General Sylvie Forbin and the Kenyan Minister of Culture, experts who authored WIPO studies presented the results of said studies for Africa: Kenneth Crews on libraries, Raquel Xalabarder on education, Yaniv Benhamou on museums and David Sutton on archives. The presentations, which will soon be published on WIPO’s webpage on the seminar, demonstrated that most African countries have E&L provisions in their laws which cover the needs of the selected users, while fewer countries have specific exceptions.

Representatives of African Member States gathered in working groups to discuss in more detail the needs of libraries, archives, museums and education & research institutions, including on exceptions and limitations, with regards to access, preservation, private uses and cross border issues. All observers were given the opportunity to participate in the discussions, providing their perspectives. 

In addition to IPA, regional publishers’ association APNET and publishers from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria were present. You can read interviews with a number of them here. Publishers made invaluable contributions to the debates with their deep knowledge about African markets and the foundational role played by copyright protection systems to enable licensing, sales and the fight against rampant piracy – which publishers identified as the primary issue that needs to be tackled to promote the growth of creative industries in Africa. Publishers also identified various licensing solutions available to address the needs of the selected users, especially libraries, education and research.

At the end of the seminar, working groups communicated their views, including the need to assess national laws to better support licensing structures and possibly consider additional exceptions and limitations when and if that is the best local solution to respond to the needs in the digital environment. All working groups underlined that priority should be given to raising awareness about existing international, regional and national frameworks and making use of existing flexibilities set out in WIPO and World Trade Organisation treaties.

The next regional seminar will take place in Santo Domingo on July 4-5, 2019.