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Copyright Is Pricing Consumers Out Of Knowledge
By Mi2N
(more articles from this author)
2006-03-31
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The worldwide federation of consumer organisations, Consumers International (CI), has condemned WIPO technical assistance as 'thoroughly inadequate,' and is demanding a wholesale review of the organisation's legislative advice to developing countries.

The criticism comes as Consumers International publishes the findings of its study into the copyright laws of 11 Asian countries, released to coincide with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) development agenda summit in Geneva (20-24 February).

The 'Copyright and Access to Knowledge'* report finds that all 11 countries, including China, India and Malaysia, have given copyright owners far more protection than the intellectual property treaties they have signed up to require.

As a result, copyrighted educational materials in these countries are expensive and consumers are being priced out of access to knowledge. Imported books are prohibitively priced. When considered in terms of GDP for instance, selling students a book at US $27 in Indonesia is equivalent to selling it to students in the US at US$1,048 **

The report concludes that WIPO is failing to provide developing countries with the technical assistance they need to take advantage of copyright exemptions and limitations written into international IP treaties. In doing so, WIPO is tacitly supporting the unfair IP demands of governments and businesses in the developed world at the expense of consumers in poorer nations.

Richard Lloyd, director general of Consumers International, said, "In order to develop, poorer nations need access to affordable learning materials. Yet immense pressure from the developed world has meant many of the copyright laws in these countries are tougher than they need to be. This means consumers are being priced out of the opportunity to learn. WIPO must support its developing world member states and provide them with the technical assistance they need to effectively implement their rights under international law."

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