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Copyright, Indigenous Knowledge And Africas University Libraries: The Case Of Uganda Dick Kawooya School of Information Sciences University of Tennessee.

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright, Indigenous Knowledge And Africas University Libraries: The Case Of Uganda Dick Kawooya School of Information Sciences University of Tennessee."— Presentation transcript:

1 Copyright, Indigenous Knowledge And Africas University Libraries: The Case Of Uganda Dick Kawooya School of Information Sciences University of Tennessee Supported by the Open Society Institute (OSI) with the Contribution of the International Policy Fellowships of OSI – Budapest

2 Overview Background/context Legal protection of ITK – the problems Digitization of ITK and libraries in Africa Ugandan situation Concluding remarks

3 Background/context Concern: disproportionate representation of African knowledge output, and legal protection (or lack thereof) of indigenous and traditional knowledge (ITK) in digital environments

4 Background/context… The Carnegie Reporter (2005) – some African scholars, scientists and researchers expressed skepticism towards digitalization of unique African knowledge - misappropriation Carnegie Reporter is a publication of the Carnegie Corporation of New York (

5 Background/context… Africa net consumer and NOT producer of knowledge – Africans and non-Africans Based on assertion that Africans are not innovative/creative Assertion grounded in western conceptualization & construction of innovation & creativity (IPR outputs) ITK unaccounted for/ ignored

6 Background/context… ITK important & evidence of Africas creativity & innovation UNESCO/WIPO initiatives on ITK (1970s) Model Provisions for National Laws on the Protection of Expressions of Folklore against Illicit Exploitation and other Prejudicial Actions – 1982 (Sui Generis) Convention on Cultural Diversity - clarified the place for cultural artifacts in the market place and roles of countries in controlling

7 Background/context… WIPO – Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) OAU (African Union) The African Model Legislation For The Protection Of The Rights Of Local Communities, Farmers And Breeders, And For The Regulation Of Access To Biological Resources Broader than copyright but aimed at aspects ITK Recent review and survey of international ITK initiatives:- Armstrong, Chris and Ford, Heather (2005). The African Digital Commons:A Participants Guide, Available from:

8 Legal Protection of ITK: the problems A: Legal system itself :- Western legal constructs (authorship, originality, etc) & system - antithetical to Africans historically communal/sharing values Unprecedented system that supplants local systems and values

9 Legal Protection… B: ITK – definitional/conceptualization Indigenous - Indigene means someone or something that is native or originating from a given place (Wikipedia 2006b).

10 Legal Protection… Indigenous people are a group of people and/or descendants: who have a historical continuity or association with a given region, or parts of a region, and who formerly or currently inhabit the region: before its subsequent colonization or annexation; or alongside other cultural groups during the formation of a nation-state; or

11 Legal protection… independently or largely isolated from the influence of the claimed governance by a nation-state, and who further more have maintained, at least in part, their distinct linguistic, cultural and social/organizational characteristics, and in so doing remain differentiated in some degree from the surroundings populations and dominant culture of the nation-state (Wikipedia 2006b,

12 Legal protection… Traditional essentially means to hand down or hand over Traditional knowledge (TK) - knowledge passed on from one generation to another (orally) (Wikipedia 2006a:

13 Legal Protection… Contemporary African context- I/T not unambiguous: Colonial legacy – arbitrary state boundaries divided ethnic groups (IPR jurisdictional/territorial - national) Cultural nationalism – post-independence state (I/T resources National Heritage) Inter-tribal/ethnic mix-up (urbanization, intermarriages, etc)

14 Legal protection… Problems highlighted raise important questions (contemporary settings):- Knowledge – Indigenous to who: Tribal/ethnic group? Country/ State? Continent? Protection from who -foreign/local misappropriation or both?

15 Legal protection… How inclusive-: national heritage (national level)? ITK (group level)? African scholarship – directly/indirectly interfaces with ITK (ITK – conventional sense or scholarly article – based on ITK) Dilemma – treatment of pure ITK vs. scholarly work drawing from ITK resources?

16 Legal protection… Scholars:- outsiders to a culture - not members of a given ethnic group? insiders as members of a jurisdiction claiming national heritage? Insiders (members) extension of the communities? Claim individual ownership?

17 Digitization of ITK and Libraries in Africa Staff at a Ugandan university: we cannot afford to digitize our theses and dissertations. What else shall we remain with? We have researchers [foreign] who come to consult archival materials at one of our branch library, if that material is converted to digital form and made available on the Internet what will motivate foreigners to come to our country?

18 Digitization of ITK… Digitization – conversion of non-digital material to digital form (Tsebe 2005, 2) Involves:- Primary (raw) materials (ITK) Secondary ITK resources outputs from scholarly endeavors (e.g. Theses & Dissertations) Digitization initiatives –broadly defined (converted and born digital resources)

19 Digitization of ITK… Tsebe comprehensive account of digitization initiatives in African libraries Digitization – viewed as important but very few comprehensive and systematic initiatives outside South Africa Digitization – DATAD, AJOL

20 Ugandan Situation Study (not scientific) - examine the disproportionate representation of African knowledge output due to inadequate protection of indigenous and traditional knowledge (ITK) in Africas scholarly and research environments

21 Uganda… 14 digital librarians (in charge of e- resources) 13 public/private inst. Invited to provide information on digitization activities & policies (copyright/ICT) 6 responded – 4 noted total lack of digitization initiatives and/or policies

22 Uganda… Two positive cases:- Ongoing ITK digitization initiatives Institutional repositories – DSpace (library project) /Greenstone platforms (outside the library); Digitized and stored on CDs (collaboration with Research and Documentation Centre unit) Initiatives at pilot levels (Tsebe 2005)

23 Uganda… Copyright policies? No explicit institutional or library copyright policies (ITK digitization initiatives) Institutional ICT policies – silent on copyright Copyright Assumed (we follow international copyright rules), Simply not considered (priority) and an afterthought (drafting policy after project takeoff) Difficulty of securing materials from faculty in absence of terms (rights) – copyright inclusive

24 Concluding remarks Pilot, learn and formulate policies or vice versa? Ugandan situation not surprising – no law for protecting ITK (excluded from copyright law) Sui Generis (proposed) - implementation uncertain Where ITK (expressed as folklore) protected (e.g. Ghana, Malawi) – implementation problematic

25 Concluding remarks Copyright (legal protection) – not only factor but increasingly an important element ITK digitization - contributes to better representation of Africas knowledge output in the global knowledge flows Recommendation – understand position of scholars/researchers on copyright (legal protection) & digitization of their work

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