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This paper discusses the regulation of copyright collective management organisations (CMOs) from a corporate governance perspective. In the case of Nigeria, CMOs have ‘dual personality’ and are subject to a dual regulatory framework: they are companies registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and they are also collecting societies registered pursuant to the CMO Regulations. As companies, they are legal entities with all the rights of natural persons including the right to sue and be sued  and their affairs are governed and managed by their directors and officers under the regulatory framework of the CAMA. As collecting societies, part of the requirements for the issuance of licences to operate their core business of negotiation of licences and collection and distribution of for the copyright sector, the NCC, under the CMO Regulations and adherence to principles of good governance. The legal features and underpinnings of this ‘dual persona’, although somewhat similar, are distinct enough to warrant separate analyses.

This paper addresses one ambit of this ‘dual persona’ – the implications of collecting societies as companies under the copyright framework – specifically, the effectiveness of the powers of the copyright sector regulator – Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) under the CMO Regulations in the regulation of the corporate governance of collecting societies. The paper considers the effectiveness of the powers of the NCC under the CMO Regulations in addressing the problems or incidences of poor corporate governance of CMOs in Nigeria. In doing so, it draws on approaches from South Africa and Australia.

The full paper is available here.

This book chapter authored by Dr Chijioke Okorie traces South Africa’s experience with addressing the fair use versus fair dealing dilemma in its copyright statute, and assesses both the practical implications and efficacy of the manner in which it has applied itself to the operation, use, and application of the fair dealing exception in practice. The chapter questions the efficacy of any fair dealing/fair use exceptions that may be adopted in South Africa, by assessing the manner in which the amendment process has engaged with the fair dealing exception and comparing it with how existing exceptions have been implemented in practice. The chapter starts by tracing South Africa’s experience on the path to reforming its fair dealing exceptions regime within its comprehensive copyright reform process. It identifies three main camps to the exceptions debates in South Africa: those arguing for fair use contextualized for South Africa; another arguing for the rejection of fair use for what is, in their opinion, its unsuitability in terms of form and the manner in which it was proposed and adopted; and those arguing for the retention of the current fair dealing system, albeit in a slightly modified form. Noting that each of these camps presents arguments aligned with their respective conceptualization of the purpose of copyright exceptions, the chapter highlights the absence of considerations as to what would make exceptions work in practice in the specific context of South Africa. The chapter concludes by suggesting how government action and citizen participation can play a greater role towards actualizing the purpose(s) that exceptions aim to serve.

The book chapter is available here.

Discussions around artificial intelligence (AI), data science, machine learning, text and data mining (TDM), etc. have made things so that everyone most are aware that access to data is imperative for these activities. In this regard, the role of legal frameworks such as copyright law, data protection laws and contract law in regulating and structuring data access is significant. The Data Science for Social Impact, a research lab at the University of Pretoria invited Dr Chijioke Okorie to speak at its seminar series and she used the opportunity to explore, amongst other things, the role that these legal frameworks play in facilitating or restricting data access within the African continent.

Full report of Dr Okorie’s presentation is available on The IPKat Blog and the video recording may be assessed on YouTube.

This was a presentation by Dr Chijioke Okorie at the 2023 Flexible Futures Conference held in August 2023. The presentation was delivered under the sub-theme: Implementing authentic teaching, learning, and assessment approaches in an AI dominant future.

The abstract is reproduced below:

In higher education, traditional forms of assessment are still dominant, and advocates of these assessment methods argue that they can effectively reduce plagiarism, are dependable, and are straightforward to create, grade, and administer. However, one limitation of these assessments is that they are typically closed book, preventing students from using reference materials and therefore leading to a greater emphasis on the product rather than the learning process itself. Moreover, poorly designed tests and examinations may assess knowledge that is disconnected from real-life situations. This is even more challenging in a field such as intellectual property law where real-life application of knowledge and learning is important to develop future-ready lawyers. To address this issue, incorporating authentic assessments and taking cognisance of AI developments can prove to be a valuable strategy. Authentic assessments strive to replicate real-life tasks, fostering attributes like autonomy and motivation, which are highly valued in the legal profession.

In this study, we report on the experiences of implementing authentic assessments in the intellectual property law module at the University of Pretoria. The purpose was to establish students’ experiences in the assessments where they were required to design and create an online education resource to explain aspects of copyright law. Students were working in groups and were allowed to design the online resources of their own choice based on their assigned copyright law topic.

Apart from the creative and design elements upon which students were assessed on their ability to make design and creative selections that are appropriately aligned with their assigned topic, the assessment used in this study also had group reflection as a component. Each group was required to complete a survey to inter alia indicate copyright issues they encountered in using any third-party material in their design; a brief description of the process of creating the submitted work, what they learned from the work, contributions by each individual member of the group, etc. This survey was not graded but to ensure that students participated, no group will receive a mark for the assessed part if they did not participate in the survey.

The survey not only helped students to reflect on the practical and real application of copyright law to creative processes and creative materials; they were also able to see copyright concepts such as joint authorship; originality (i.e., through the requirement to describe the creative process of each group); licensing and, the value of the public domain (i.e., through the requirement to indicate issues with dealing with third-party material and how that influenced the choice of materials used); etc. While some students indicated that their group did not have to deal with any copyright issues in using any third-party material – audio, text, audio-visual and visual materials, etc. in creating the group work. Of the student groups that did have to deal with copyright issues, there were varied selection in terms of public domain and/or royalty-free materials that they opted for.

The study established the significant value of authentic assessments for law professionals, as they enable individuals to demonstrate their comprehension of legal concepts and principles, and effectively apply them to authentic scenarios. By engaging in authentic assessments, law professionals can develop and demonstrate important qualities such as autonomy and motivation. However, a future research direction would be to fully incorporate generative AI models into authentic assessments such as the one undertaken in the study described.

Conference book of abstracts is available here. Request full version of presentation here.

The Constitutional Court of South Africa in December 2022 handed down its fourth decision so far in the field of intellectual property. These decisions came against the backdrop of reforms and reform proposals concerning intellectual property rights in South Africa. These reforms and reform proposals were prompted by the need to establish intellectual property laws that are attuned to South Africa’s local context and needs, while complying with South Africa’s international treaty obligations. Parallel to South Africa’s policy and legislative agenda, this paper recognises these four decisions (referred to as the “IP quartet”) as the emergence of an intellectual property rights jurisprudence. The paper analyses the IP quartet and identifies a coherent narrative with respect to the intersection between intellectual property rights and constitutional rights and the appropriate approach to determining their real-life applications. The paper also explains this intellectual property rights jurisprudence and its contribution, and considers the adjudicative strategies employed by the Constitutional Court in applying constitutional provisions to dealing with issues involving intellectual property rights. An explanation of this jurisprudence arising from these cases will: (a) promote an understanding of the scope of intellectual property rights including the appropriate nature of their intersection with constitutional provisions (specifically fundamental rights expressed in Chapter 2 of the South African Constitution); and (b) offer some guidance to lower courts and the executive arm of government on the appropriate approach to the interpretation, conceptualization and application of the intellectual property legal framework.

The article perhaps, in a microcosm, demonstrates what other, especially developing jurisdictions could do too, namely find a balance between IP rights and Constitutional/human rights positions. In the same sense, it demonstrates in a microcosm what international agencies and bodies need to do in principle – harmonise various different interests or rights.

The article was written by Dr Chijioke Okorie and is available open access.

This paper written by Dr Chijioke Okorie as part of the Program on intellectual property and Information Justice’s right to research in international copyright law project, sets out the issues of copyright ownership and risk of copyright infringement liability raised by data science research use of data held by public bodies (in particular, public service broadcasters) in South Africa. Considering both the fair dealing exception in South Africa’s Copyright Act of 1978 and the proposed fair use provision in its Copyright Amendment Bill B13F-2017, the paper discusses these issues elaborating on the reasons why data science researchers in public research institutions should not require a copyright licence or be considered to be infringing copyright when they use copyright-protected materials held by public bodies for data science and artificial intelligence or machine learning research (henceforth, data science research). The paper also suggests that even where the outcomes/outputs of data science research are copyright-protected, they should be made available in an open and accessible manner with reasonable safeguards.

The paper is available open access.

Developments in information and communication technologies have shifted the management of archival materials from paper to digital. This digital environment has created expectations and possibilities in access to and preservation of archival materials and records. Several legal initiatives have been proposed to address the emerging roles of archival materials and archival institutions. From a copyright law perspective, statutory copyright exceptions tend to be the go-to approach for addressing the copyright issues facing archival and other memory institutions.

In this environment, there are conversations around the roles of archival and other memory institutions and how the copyright law construct could design limitations and exceptions enabling those institutions to carry out their roles. Within these conversations, there remains a general adherence to the classic landmark (i.e., guiding light) of these institutions’ role being to preserve, safeguard and provide access to materials as needed. In this book chapter by Dr Chijioke Okorie, she argues that from the standpoint of implementing any agenda of mass digitization before or alongside the repatriation of cultural heritage materials, this landmark of preservation and access should be challenged. This chapter proposes a complementary landmark to guide policymakers in navigating the copyright limitations and exceptions landscape for archival and other memory institutions. Agency, along with restitution and the general practice of decolonization, becomes a more appropriate landmark in this chapter’s description of how at institutional level, national archival institutions and other memory institutions might want to proceed in undertaking their planning for repatriating, receiving and managing repatriated items. Furthermore, incorporating agency as a complementary landmark would ready these institutions for the forthcoming transition to specific copyright limitations and exceptions.

The chapter is available open access.

This book chapter by Dr Chijioke Okorie forms part of an edited volume on Artificial Intelligence and the law in Africa.

The chapter is premised on the argument that the use of the IP system to take advantage of the opportunities, and overcome the challenges, of AI on the African continent should be based on the recognition of the contextual characteristics that exist in the continent as embodied in expressed development plans. The chapter takes a brief but closer look at South Africa’s NDP 2030, highlighting the role of AI in the actualisation of the development goals. More significantly, the chapter showcases the contextual characteristics of South Africa as a microcosm of the African continent to show how such context should necessitate a different AI IP policy. It concludes that the imperative for South Africa and other African countries is to facilitate AI applications across all sectors of the economy. Such AI applications in health, education, governance etc. will contribute to Africa’s development. The chapter also presents an overview of the varied uses of the IP systems (specifically copyright and patent laws) to promote creativity; inventiveness and innovation. On this basis, the chapter supports the argument that the grant or conferment of IPRs is not the only way to facilitate investment and innovation in the AI space or to harness the opportunities of AI or address the challenges posed by AI. Rather, the IP system also offers scope delineation and exceptions to IP protection that can also (and perhaps better) facilitate investment and innovation in the AI space. The chapter concludes by proposing strategies within the IP systems that can enable Africa to take advantage of the opportunities, and overcome the challenges, of AI on the continent.

The chapter is available open access.

Dr Chijioke Okorie facilitated a workshop and dialogue session at the 3rd Edition of Hundzula: Natural Language Processing and Linguistics Retreat held at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. The session titled Licensing corpora for natural language processing [#AfricaNLP] was made possible through financial support from Meta.

Hundzula: Natural Language Processing and Linguistics retreat, brings together researchers working in Natural Language Processing and Linguistics to learn, teach and assist each other.

Reflections on the retreat and the workshop specifically to follow shortly!