On a knife edge? South Africa’s new copyright law | EIFL

“The Copyright Amendment Bill [B13B – 2017] had been sitting on the desk of President Cyril Ramaphosa for over a year waiting to be signed into law. In June 2020, when Blind South Africa issued a legal challenge over the delay, the President acted. But instead of signing the Bill that had been approved by the legislature, the President used his prerogative to return it to parliament citing constitutional concerns with certain aspects, including new exceptions for libraries, education and persons with disabilities.

The President’s rejection of the Bill is widely seen as the result of pressure by copyright industries, and the threat of trade sanctions and reduced future investment from the United States and the European Union. …

In advance of the briefing, EIFL wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly and to the Portfolio Committee to pledge support for the Bill. EIFL’s letter sets out how libraries and educational institutions in South Africa, and the millions of South Africans citizens they serve, will benefit greatly from new exceptions designed for non-commercial uses. They will help to re-calibrate the existing copyright system in South Africa which forces resource-deprived institutions to pay high licence fees to largely European and US companies. (For example, the 2011 Copyright Review Commission Report, known as the Farlam Review, confirmed that 70% of copying fees paid by higher education institutions in the previous year were distributed to foreign rightsholders). While this is a windfall for these companies, it is in our view, bad public policy for South Africa.

EIFL’s letter also notes that the exceptions in the Bill are modelled on provisions in the copyright laws of developed countries including Australia, Canada, Israel, Singapore, the UK and the US, that the Bill seeks merely to ensure that libraries and educational institutions in South Africa have the same rights than their counterparts in these countries, and any concerns that they may be inconsistent with South Africa’s obligations under international copyright treaties are misplaced….”

EIFL welcomes Rights Retention Strategy for researchers | EIFL

“EIFL welcomes the Rights Retention Strategy that will make it easier for repositories to provide full and immediate open access, and encourages researchers and publishers to follow it. Creative Commons licences are internationally recognized, well-established, and both human-readable and machine-readable. CC BY 4.0 is the most liberal Creative Commons licence that ensures repositories interoperability and also allows users and machines to re-use content in data analytics, text and data mining, etc. 

EIFL has been working on a campaign called ‘Your Work. Your Rights. KNOW.THINK.RETAIN’, re-using the concept of ‘Think.Check.Submit’ that helps researchers identify trusted journals and publishers. When researchers publish their articles in open access journals, they retain their full copyrights. However, if they choose to publish in a subscription access journal, they are required to sign a form transferring some – or all – of their copyrights to the publisher. With our campaign, we want to raise the awareness of researchers about their intellectual ownership rights and power to suppress unreasonable embargo periods.

The cOALition S Rights Retention Strategy now makes it much easier for researchers to retain their copyright and strengthens our campaign. Over the coming weeks, the cOAlition S Office will be hosting a series of webinars to provide further information and to answer any questions publishers and journals editors may have about the Rights Retention Strategy.”

How can I get access to the article I need? | EIFL

“In order to help researchers retrieve legal copies of full-text articles that they can’t find in their library, EIFL has created a poster with useful links to other places where they can look for an article they need, such as open access search engines or browser extensions.

We are encouraging librarians to share the poster widely with faculty and students through their university and institutional websites, newsletters and social media. EIFL can help libraries customize the poster, for example, by adding the library’s logo and links to the library’s subscribed e-resources.”

How can I get access to the article I need? | EIFL

“In order to help researchers retrieve legal copies of full-text articles that they can’t find in their library, EIFL has created a poster with useful links to other places where they can look for an article they need, such as open access search engines or browser extensions.

We are encouraging librarians to share the poster widely with faculty and students through their university and institutional websites, newsletters and social media. EIFL can help libraries customize the poster, for example, by adding the library’s logo and links to the library’s subscribed e-resources.”

COVID lessons – copyright and online learning | EIFL

“As teachers look to preparing lessons for the new academic year and librarians try to manage access to library collections, a reliance on temporary fixes and the goodwill of individual publishers is raising questions about the real resilience of the legal framework in delivering for education and science globally, and the need to explore new approaches, especially for times of crisis.

For example, in the UK, Research Libraries UK coordinated an open letter to the Secretaries of State for Education and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport calling for copyright rules to be relaxed to enable remote learning and research during the COVID-19 crisis.

In Europe, LIBER, the Association of Research Libraries in Europe, called on the European Commission and member states to issue urgent guidance to ensure that researchers, educational establishments and libraries are able to fulfil their responsibilities without fear of litigation, stating the need for a public interest defence in times of medical, environmental or economic crisis, such as COVID-19.

COMMUNIA put forward the case that basic rights such as freedom of information and the right to science and education, enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, should be capable of being applied as a break on exclusive copyrights in exceptional situations. 

In the US, library copyright specialists reaffirmed the role of fair use in supporting remote teaching and research in the wake of the COVID-19.

Also in the US, the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library (NEL), launched at the start of the pandemic to provide books to support emergency remote teaching, is being sued for mass copyright infringement by four commercial publishers….”

COVID lessons – copyright and online learning | EIFL

“As teachers look to preparing lessons for the new academic year and librarians try to manage access to library collections, a reliance on temporary fixes and the goodwill of individual publishers is raising questions about the real resilience of the legal framework in delivering for education and science globally, and the need to explore new approaches, especially for times of crisis.

For example, in the UK, Research Libraries UK coordinated an open letter to the Secretaries of State for Education and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport calling for copyright rules to be relaxed to enable remote learning and research during the COVID-19 crisis.

In Europe, LIBER, the Association of Research Libraries in Europe, called on the European Commission and member states to issue urgent guidance to ensure that researchers, educational establishments and libraries are able to fulfil their responsibilities without fear of litigation, stating the need for a public interest defence in times of medical, environmental or economic crisis, such as COVID-19.

COMMUNIA put forward the case that basic rights such as freedom of information and the right to science and education, enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, should be capable of being applied as a break on exclusive copyrights in exceptional situations. 

In the US, library copyright specialists reaffirmed the role of fair use in supporting remote teaching and research in the wake of the COVID-19.

Also in the US, the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library (NEL), launched at the start of the pandemic to provide books to support emergency remote teaching, is being sued for mass copyright infringement by four commercial publishers….”

EIFL endorses Open COVID Pledge | EIFL

“EIFL has pledged its support for the Open COVID Pledge that seeks to remove barriers to the use of intellectual property (IP) to help end and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Pledge was developed by the Open COVID Coalition, an international coalition of legal experts, engineers and scientists who are calling on companies, universities and other organizations to make their patents and copyrights temporarily available free of charge to accelerate the rapid development and deployment of diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, medical equipment and software solutions in this urgent public health crisis….”

Fostering bibliodiversity: A call for action! | EIFL

“EIFL has co-authored a paper calling on researchers, universities, libraries, policy makers, funders and infrastructure providers to work together to support greater diversity in scholarly communications – referred to as bibliodiversity.

The paper argues that diversity is an essential characteristic of an effective scholarly communications system that can address complex challenges faced in today’s world. 

Titled ‘Fostering Bibliodiversity in Scholarly Communications – A Call for Action!’, the paper is written by Leslie Chan, Centre for Critical Development, University of Toronto Scarborough; Iryna Kuchma, EIFL Open Access Programme Manager; Pierre Mounier, EHESS/OpenEdition, OPERAS, and Kathleen Shearer of COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories).

It urges greater diversity in services and platforms, funding mechanisms, and evaluation measures that will allow the research communications to accommodate the different workflows, languages, publication outputs, and research topics that support the needs and epistemic pluralism of different research communities. Diversity also reduces the risk of monopoly and high prices for publishing and accessing research….”

Co-designing OA Publishing Infrastructures in Africa Workshop : Collaborative Knowledge Foundation

“We are very happy to announce the first in a series of four workshops on Co-Designing Open Access Infrastructures. These meetings are particularly focused on Africa and organized by the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), EIFL and Coko….”