Launched at the start of 2021, the Right to Research in International Copyright Law project aims to define and implement rights to research within international copyright law and policy. The project produces high impact research, provides training to a global network of change makers, and connects a global academic network to the work of global and domestic organisations that represent researchers, libraries, museums, archives, educational and research institutions. American University’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property chairs the network’s Academic Advisory Board, constructed through the membership of the Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights, which creates and disseminates research and analysis.

The project is supported by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.  Arcadia supports charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment. It also supports projects that promote open access and all of its awards are granted on the condition that any materials produced are made available for free online. 

The project includes a regional project on the continent of Africa, coordinated by internationally recognised copyright experts, Teresa Hackett, EIFL, and Dr Dick Kawooya, University of South Carolina.  The R2R Steering Group that will advise EIFL on project activities in Africa, including advocacy, training, and events, is made up of leaders in libraries, education and copyright advocacy. They are Pedi Anawi, Coordinator Education International Regional Office (Ghana); Kathy Matsika, University Library Director, National University of Science & Technology (Zimbabwe); Ben Cashdan, Television Producer, Co-Chair ReCreate (South Africa); Denise Nicholson, Consultant, Scholarly Horizons (South Africa), and Sarah Kaddu, AfLIA Copyright and Legal Matters Working Group (Uganda).

The Right to Research Africa project aims to build a coalition of library, education and research advocates who are active and influential at WIPO and other fora involved in copyright issues, support the project’s Global Advocacy Network on issues related to Africa, and engage in stakeholder education and other activities towards the common goal of promoting the interests of research and education in international and domestic copyright policy. YouTube Channel.

During the week of 23 to 27 January 2023, PIJIP, EIFL and many other organisations met in South Africa to discuss issues around access to knowledge and the right to research for Africa.  International speakers and delegates included academics, IP experts, librarians, medical doctors, educators, students, digital project managers, Government officials, a South African Parliamentarian, WIPO Mission officials and others from the United States, Canada, Brazil, the UK and EU, South Africa and several other African countries.  

The first seminar was held at the University of Pretoria (UP). The keynote speakers were Professor Tawane Kupe, Vice-Chancellor, UP, and Dr Carlos Correa, Executive Director, South Centre (online).  The second seminar was held at the University of Cape Town (UCT).  The keynote speaker was Prof. Tobias Schonwetter, Director, IP Unit, UCT, and Honourable Judy Hermans, MP, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition, South African Parliament.  

The two seminars were well attended in person and via Zoom.  Feedback from participants has been very positive. The sessions by way of brief presentations, case studies and vibrant discussions covered a variety of issues affected by copyright. The seminars highlighted the need for African countries to work together to acknowledge, advance, and promote the right to research, and to ensure African copyright laws address and enhance the right to research. 

The first three sessions of the Pretoria seminar are now available on YouTube. 

Other videos will be made available in due course.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash