Should India relax its copyright laws

Pandemic FightScientists are calling for an adaptation of copyright law

To contain the corona pandemic, a coalition of 100 organizations and 150 individuals is calling for global copyright law to be relaxed. The joint declaration to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was initiated by academics from the Washington College of Law. The signatories include organizations such as Wikimedia Germany or the South African Academy of Science.

The aim is to support library, archive and museum work, as well as researchers and teachers who are working on measures against COVID-19. According to the declaration, access to works protected by copyright, as well as patents and technical know-how, play an important role in combating the virus and further developing treatment methods.

In many countries, copyright laws prevent the use of knowledge outside of educational institutions such as libraries or universities that are closed due to lockdown regulations. This means that access to knowledge is unevenly distributed and restricted. For example, researchers in the home office lack important sources that are hidden behind paywalls or can only be accessed in analog form.

Suspend TRIPS agreement

The signatories call on the WTO to adapt the "Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)" for a short time and to partially suspend it. The proposal relates to a request made by South Africa and India to the WTO in October 2020. The countries proposed that all WTO members be granted an exemption for the use of protected COVID-19 products and technologies for the duration of the pandemic .

In the declaration to the WTO, the organizations and scientists emphasize that the elimination of legal knowledge barriers is essential for the further development and production of vaccines. The WTO and its member states have to show international solidarity, since human rights obligations go beyond the protection of copyright regulations.

Intellectual property, the use of which is regulated within the framework of the TRIPS, also includes trade secrets and commercial models that companies use to control the market. With regard to COVID-19, this means that pharmaceutical companies are artificially shortening medical goods such as drugs, masks or even ventilators in order to generate more profit. The aid organization Doctors Without Borders is therefore accusing the pharmaceutical industry of sticking to the principle of profit maximization even in a global pandemic.

About the author

Vincent Först

Vincent is doing an internship with us from February 2021 to May 2021. He is at home at the University of the Arts, where he works as a tutor for text theory and text design. When he's not writing, he organizes cultural events in the Berlin area. You can find more of him on Twitter or by email - also encrypted, if you like.
Published 03/25/2021 at 4:23 pm