Key Copyright Issues in African Distance Education: A South African Case Study
‘Key Copyright Issues in African Distance Education: A South African Case Study’ (2011) 32(2) Distance Education 269 -275
Posted: 18 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 4, 2016
This report draws primarily on the results of the recently concluded African Copyright and Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Project (see http://www.aca2k.org/), which investigated copyright and access to learning materials in face-to-face, distance education (DE), and dual-mode tertiary educational institutions in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda (Armstrong, de Beer, Kawooya, Prabhala, & Schonwetter, 2010). The project’s main research question was whether copyright laws, policies, and practices in the eight countries maximized access to learning materials. Its research methodology included legal doctrinal review, interviews, document analysis, and comparative analysis of the country findings.
The project found that the copyright laws of these eight countries fail to facilitate meaningful access to learning materials generally and particularly in the DE context (Armstrong et al., 2010, p. 310). The project also found that there is inadequate provision for exceptions in relation to DE. As a result of these inadequacies in the law, and the prevailing socio-economic conditions, copyright law is ignored and access to learning materials is obtained largely through legal infringements (p. 341). Accordingly, the findings suggest that copyright laws be reformed to make them more flexible and appropriate for each African state (p. 342). Although this report focuses on South Africa, it is worth noting that other developing countries, both within and beyond Africa, appear to face similar issues. For example, similar findings have emerged from research conducted in the Asia Pacific region (Consumers International, 2006)
Keywords: African Distant Education, Copyright issues, Access to knowledge, South Africa
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