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Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations to ‘Civilize’ Intellectual Property Law: Access to Textbooks in Africa, Copyright, and the Right to Education

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Beiter,  Klaus-Dieter
MPI for Innovation and Competition, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Beiter, K.-D. (2020). Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations to ‘Civilize’ Intellectual Property Law: Access to Textbooks in Africa, Copyright, and the Right to Education. Journal of World Intellectual Property, 23(3-4), 232-266. doi:10.1111/jwip.12150.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-7E07-7
Abstract
Printed textbooks remain crucial for education, particularly in developing countries. However, in many of these countries, textbooks are unavailable, too expensive, or not accessible in local languages. Cheaply (translating and) reproducing textbooks would be a strategy. However, reprography is highly regulated under copyright law. Copyright also adds to the cost of textbooks. The availability, accessibility, and acceptability of learning materials constitute elements of the right to education under international human rights law (IHRL). Extraterritorial state obligations (ETOs) under IHRL—obligations of states, in appropriate circumstances, to observe the human rights of those beyond their borders—could assume a key function in “civilizing” intellectual property (IP) law. This Article demonstrates the significance of ETOs for IP law by focusing on the issue of how ETOs under the right to education of IHRL prescribe requirements that international copyright law must comply with to facilitate access to textbooks in schools and universities. Drawing on the expert Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 2011, and applying the well‐known typology of state obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, the ETOs concept is introduced and 20 typical ETOs relevant in this context are identified. The discussion relates to the situation in developing countries more generally, focuses, however, on Africa.