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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

IP, Marrakesh Treaty 'Intersectionality' and International Human Rights-United States and Nigerian Approach

IP, Marrakesh Treaty ‘Intersectionality’ and International Human Rights: United States and Nigerian Approach
-Samuel Samiai Andrews†


Nigeria recently enacted a law that recognizes the protection of persons with disabilities and prohibits discrimination towards them. Nigeria joins the comity of nations to grant persons with disabilities equal opportunities with the rest of society to attain their pursuit of happiness and contentment. This paper explores the intersection between intellectual property (IP) law and international human rights in protecting literary rights, creativity, and access to information and right to education.[1] The United States seems to have forged ahead of other developed nations in recognizing rights of disable and handicapped persons in its society particularly in learning and literacy. The passage of the U.S. American Disabilities Act is a formal recognition that the disable and those hard in hearing and the blind need legal support to humanize and promote their creativity and contributions to society. In Nigeria, there was no formal legal recognition for disabilities rights until recently. However, the Nigerian National Education Policy recognizes rights of people with special needs, which disabilities form a part of the three categories created.[2] The heightened recognition of  rights for the blind, deaf and hearing impaired to access information and educational materials recently got a boost with Nigeria’s acceding to the Marrakesh Treaty and depositing the instruments with the World Intellectual Property Organization.[3] In the U.S. jurisprudence, the constitutional rights of free speech mirrors the fraternal international human rights universally adopted among developed and developing nations. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has been reluctant to recognize free speech rights as a defense or limitation or exclusions to copyrights. However, the coming into force of the Marrakesh treaty raises a conundrum on how the United States and other nations who have acceded to the treaty would recognize the intersection of international human rights and intellectual property rights. This article will explore the different jurisdictional approaches and analyze the emerging relevance of international human rights in enforcing and protecting intellectual property rights, particularly copyright.

Nigeria enacted the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act 2018 on January 23, 2019.[4] However, Nigeria had ratified the United Nation Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2007.[5] It establishes a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities and would ensure equal access to housing, education, and healthcare.[6] The law covers persons physically, visually and hearing impaired.[7] The United Nation Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) laid the ground work for an international regime for enforcing the human rights of people with disabilities.[8]

**This is a Work -in-Progress which forms part my current research and part of my upcoming paper presentation. Your comments and critique are welcome. Please send comments or suggestions to: ssamiai@aol.com

†Dr. Samuel Samiai Andrews, (SJD) is Professor of Intellectual Property Law& USA Ambassador's Distinguished Scholar, University of Gondar, School of Law, Ethiopia. He is also  an adjunct faculty at Albany State University, Albany, Georgia, USA, where he teaches Legal Environment in Business (Business Law), Criminology, Cybercriminology and Criminal Justice. He was formerly a guest lecturer and co-lecturer for the SJD Colloquium and Workshop Seminar of the SJD Doctoral Program of Suffolk University Law School, Boston (Suffolk University). He holds an LL.M (Intellectual Property & Policy, University of Washington, Seattle. He also holds an LL.M, (International Law & Legal Theory, University of Uyo, Nigeria). He holds an LL. B (Hons) (University of Uyo, Nigeria) & BL (Barrister-at-law) (Nigerian law School, Lagos). © 2019.Samuel Samiai Andrews, All Rights Reserved.
[1] See Karyn A. Temple, The Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, Copyright Creativity At Work (October 10, 2018), https://blogs.loc.gov/copyright/2018/10/the-marrakesh-treaty-implementation-act/
[2] See C. C. Asiwe & Odirin Omiegbe, Legal and Ethical Issues of Persons with Special Needs, 9 Educ. Res. Rev. 516-522 (2014).
[3] See Everest Amaefule, Nigeria Ratifies Internet Copyright Treaties, The Punch Newspaper (October 9, 2019), https://punchng.com/nigeria-ratifies-internet-copyright-treaties/; also available at https://www.wipo.int/portal/en/news/2017/article_0017.html
[4] See John Ameh, Buhari Signs Bill Prohibiting Discrimination Against Persons with Disability, Punch Newspaper (January 25, 2019), https://punchng.com/buhari-signs-bill-prohibiting-discrimination-against-persons-with-disability/
[7] See Queen Esther Iroanusi, Ten Things To Know About Nigeria’s New Disability Law, Premium Times (April 4, 2019), https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/307494-ten-things-to-know-about-nigerias-new-disability-law.html

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