Impact of copyright on access to education in the Philippines

3D Trade-Human Rights-Equitable Economy, a Geneva-based NGO, and IBON Foundation submitted a paper entitled The Philippines: Impact of copyright rules on access to education to the Pre-Sessional Working Group of the Committee on the Rights of the Child last June 2009. The document is available at the Child Rights Information Network website ( as a NGO alternative report for the 52nd Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child last 14 September-2 October 2009.

The submission provides supplementary information on the Philippines 3rd and 4th consolidated reports on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It highlights the effect of copyright rules on the affordability of textbooks and the Filipino children’s right to education.

3D’s Katia Aeby wrote the report while I provided her some of the input. Among the resources we used is the Consumers International IP Watchlist Report 2009.

3D and IBON assert that stringent copyright rules tend to raise prices of books and hamper access to education. Thus it is important that domestic legislation provides sufficient flexibilities to ensure access to textbooks and educational materials.

The paper offers the following recommendations for the Philippine government:

  • Use available flexibilities under the Berne Convention and the TRIPS Agreement to ensure copyright legislation supports access to text books and other teaching materials at all educational levels.
  • Extend the list of limitations and exceptions within the Intellectual Property Code to include detailed provisions for all aspects of educational activities. This should include a provision allowing the government to grant compulsory licenses to ensure the supply of affordable text books.
  • Take into account the right to education when negotiating and implementing multilateral, bilateral and regional trade agreements. It should therefore conduct impact assessments before negotiating such agreements to ensure that the copyright provisions they include do not impede children’s access to educational materials.
  • Ensure that future legislation related to copyright for works on the internet fully takes into account the right to education. If the government asks for international technical assistance to implement the WIPO Copyright Treaty, this should be done in accordance with Article 28(3) of the CRC and facilitate “access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods”.

The concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child for the session on the Philippines included a paragraph with recommendations on the right to education but, sadly, there is no mention of the influence of copyright on access to education. As Ms. Aeby said, this shows that we need to continue working on copyright issues so that adequate attention is paid to them.

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