Access to Knowledge movement

The Access to Knowledge (A2K) movement is a loose collection of civil society groups, governments, and individuals converging on the idea that access to knowledge should be linked to fundamental principles of justice, freedom, and economic development.


The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities from 2003 is a major declaration reflecting the goals of the movement pertaining to academic publishing.

In October 2004, the Geneva declaration on the future of the World Intellectual Property Organization emerged from a call from Brazil and Argentina for a development agenda for the World Intellectual Property Organization, and was supported by hundreds organizations.[1] Supporters included the Free Software Foundation, with a statement Towards a "World Intellectual Wealth Organisation": Supporting the Geneva Declaration.[2]

One of the proposals of the declaration was to a «call for a Treaty on Access to Knowledge and Technology. The Standing Committee on Patents and the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights should solicit views from member countries and the public on elements of such a treaty».[3]

A shared discussion platform on A2K issues is the mailing list of that name, which was initiated around discussion of the Geneva declaration.[4] A draft "A2K treaty" was later produced.[5] The proposed treaty is intended to ease the transfer of knowledge to developing nations, and to secure the viability of open innovation systems all over the world.[6]

Human rights debate

Access to knowledge and science is protected by Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The article balances the right of access with a right to protection of moral and material interests:

Article 27

Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

A2K academics argue that “material interests” are not simply equivalent to current intellectual property provisions, not least because these rights are saleable and transferable, and therefore not “inalienable”. The right to access is ultimately the more important part of the right. Current levels of IP protection seem out of balance with Article 27, according to A2K theorists:

... in a very real sense, rights delayed are rights denied. Had access to oral rehydration therapy and second-generation vaccine technologies been delayed for twenty years ... three million children would have died. Even for less life- and-death technologies, a twenty-year delay works an immense limitation on enjoyment of the right. For cultural works, the situation is even worse; protection lasts longer than a human lifetime.[7]


Knowledge Ecology International

CP Tech (now Knowledge Ecology International) say: "the A2K (Access to Knowledge) movement takes concerns with copyright law and other regulations that affect knowledge and places them within an understandable social need and policy platform: access to knowledge goods."[8]

Consumers International

Many different groups refer to the A2K movement. Consumers International is particularly prominent, running a dedicated domain,[9] and defines the movement as:

the umbrella term for a movement that aims to create more equitable public access to the products of human culture and learning. The ultimate objective of the movement is to create a world in which educational and cultural works are accessible to all, and in which consumers and creators alike participate in a vibrant ecosystem of innovation and creativity.

These goals are of interest to a broad coalition of consumer groups, NGOs, activists, Internet users and others. For many of them, coming to grips with the issues involved in the A2K movement can be daunting. These issues, including copyright and patent law reform, open content licensing, and communications rights, often involve legal and technological concepts that even specialists find difficult.

See also


  1. ^ "Geneva Declaration on the Future of WIPO".
  2. ^ "FSFE - Towards a "World Intellectual Wealth Organisation"".
  3. ^ "Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization".
  4. ^ Formerly at, now at
  5. ^ "Treaty on Access to Knowledge" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  6. ^ "Experts Debate Access To Knowledge | Intellectual Property Watch". 2005-02-15. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  7. ^ Shaver, Lea (2010). "The Right to Science and Culture". Wisconsin Law Review. 1: 121–184. doi:10.2139/ssrn.1354788. SSRN 1354788.
  8. ^ "Access to Knowledge". Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  9. ^ "A global advocacy network for consumers in the digital age". Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-09-02.

Further reading

External links



  1. ^ Ronaldo Lemos; Pedro Nicoletti Mizukami; Ronaldo Lemos; Bruno Magrani; Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza (2010), Access to Knowledge in Brazil, Bloomsbury Academic
  2. ^ Lea Shaver; Nagla Rizk (2010), Access to Knowledge in Egypt, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1-84966-008-2, 1849660085
  3. ^ Lea Shaver; Ramesh Subramanian (2011), Access to Knowledge in India, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1849665261, 1849665265
  4. ^ Armstrong, Chris Dr (2010), Access to Knowledge in Africa, UCT Press
  5. ^ Gaelle Krikorian; Amy Kapczynski (2010), Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property, MIT Press
Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities is an international statement on open access and access to knowledge. It emerged from a conference on open access hosted in the Harnack House in Berlin by the Max Planck Society in 2003.

Budapest Open Access Initiative

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) is a public statement of principles relating to open access to the research literature, which was released to the public February 14, 2002. It arose from a conference convened in Budapest by the Open Society Institute on December 1–2, 2001 to promote open access – at the time also known as Free Online Scholarship. This small gathering of individuals is recognised as one of the major defining events of the open access movement. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the initiative, it was reaffirmed in 2012 and supplemented with a set of concrete recommendations for achieving "the new goal that within the next ten years, OA will become the default method for distributing new peer-reviewed research in every field and country."

Consumers International

Consumers International is the membership organisation for consumer groups around the world. Founded on 1 April 1960, it has over 250 member organisations in 120 countries. Its head office is based in London, England, with regional offices in Latin America, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

Consumers International is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, company number 04337865 and registered charity number 1122155.

Digital rights

The term digital rights describes the human rights that allow individuals to access, use, create, and publish digital media or to access and use computers, other electronic devices, or communications networks. The term is particularly related to the protection and realization of existing rights, such as the right to privacy or freedom of expression, in the context of new digital technologies, especially the Internet. Right to Internet access is recognized as a right by the laws of several countries.


Digitalcourage – known until November 2012 as FoeBuD (Verein zur Förderung des öffentlichen bewegten und unbewegten Datenverkehrs) – is a German privacy and digital rights organisation. Under the motif of preserving "a world worth living in the digital age", Digitalcourage campaigns for civil and human rights, consumer protection, privacy, freedom of information and related issues. The group has links with organisations such as the German Working Group against Data Retention (Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung) and the Chaos Computer Club, and it is a member of the umbrella organisation European Digital Rights.

Digitale Gesellschaft

Digitale Gesellschaft (literally, Digital Society) is a German registered association founded in 2010, that is committed to civil rights and consumer protection in terms of internet policy.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California. The foundation was formed in July 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor to promote Internet civil liberties.

EFF provides funds for legal defense in court, presents amicus curiae briefs, defends individuals and new technologies from what it considers abusive legal threats, works to expose government malfeasance, provides guidance to the government and courts, organizes political action and mass mailings, supports some new technologies which it believes preserve personal freedoms and online civil liberties, maintains a database and web sites of related news and information, monitors and challenges potential legislation that it believes would infringe on personal liberties and fair use and solicits a list of what it considers abusive patents with intentions to defeat those that it considers without merit.

EFF also provides tips, tools, how-tos, tutorials, and software for safer online communications.

European Digital Rights

European Digital Rights (EDRi) is an international advocacy group headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. EDRi was founded in June 2002 in Berlin by ten NGOs from seven countries. In March 2015, the European Council adopted a proposal that may compromise net neutrality, a major concern of EDRi.

Free-culture movement

The free-culture movement is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify the creative works of others in the form of free content or open content without compensation to, or the consent of, the work's original creators, by using the Internet and other forms of media.

The movement objects to what they consider over-restrictive copyright laws. Many members of the movement argue that such laws hinder creativity. They call this system "permission culture."Creative Commons is an organization started by Lawrence Lessig which provides licenses that permit sharing and remixing under various conditions, and also offers an online search of various Creative Commons-licensed works.

The free-culture movement, with its ethos of free exchange of ideas, is aligned with the free and open-source-software movement.

Today, the term stands for many other movements, including open access (OA), the remix culture, the hacker culture, the access to knowledge movement, the Open Source Learning, the copyleft movement and the public domain movement.

Free Knowledge Foundation

The Free Knowledge Foundation (FKF; Spanish: Fundación Conocimiento Libre) is an organization aiming to promote Free Knowledge, including Free Software and Free Standards. It was founded in 2004 and is based in Madrid, Spain.

FKF works with Politicians, Educators, the Media, and other important social agents to create awareness about Free Knowledge, Free Software and Free Standards.

Pablo Machón is FKF's President since 2004. In 2005, the Foundation appointed Richard Stallman as Patron of Honor.In 2006 the FKF became an associate organization of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

Free Knowledge Institute

The Free Knowledge Institute (FKI) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2006 in the Netherlands. Inspired by the free software movement, the FKI fosters the free exchange of knowledge in all areas of society by promoting freedom of use, modification, copying, and distribution of knowledge pertaining to education, technology, culture, and science.

The FKI coordinates and participates in projects concerning education, access to knowledge, intellectual property, and open educational resources.

Ghana Open Data Initiative

Ghana Open Data Initiative (GODI) was started in January 2012 by the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) in partnership with the Web Foundation (WF), to make Government of Ghana data available to the public for re-use. The establishment of GODI is meant to promote efficiency, transparency and accountability in governance as well as to facilitate economic growth by means of the creation of Mobile and Web applications for the Ghanaian and world markets. The project was scheduled for completion in 2014 and aimed to create a sustainable Open Data ecosystem for Ghana. GODI was launched with a 100 data sets categorized as political, legal, organizational, technical, social or economic. The vision of GODI is to develop an open data community involving the Government of Ghana, civil society organizations, industry, developer communities, academia, media practitioners, and the citizenry, to interact with one another with the aim of developing an open data portal to bring about transparency, accountability and efficiency in government.

Information activism

An information activist is someone who works to make information available to the general population. According to Anthony Molaro, "An information activist is a vigorous advocate of knowledge gained through study, communication, research or instruction".Information activism at libraries and among librarians began in the 1960s, when many libraries advocated for the information rights of their clients. Their activism projects thereafter extended beyond library walls to advocate for issues such as tenancy and labour rights. With the advent of new information technologies and the information explosion of the late 20th century, information activism expanded in scope to include people who utilize information in the service of advocacy. Tactical Technology Collective has proposed a definition of information activism as “the strategic and deliberate use of information within a campaign” which specifically refers to the use of publicly available information in activist projects. Information activists take on many projects to work to remove barriers and provide access to knowledge for all people.

Information activism can take on many different forms and be used in many different fields including in librarianship, in archiving, and in activist projects.

Internet Ungovernance Forum

The Internet Ungovernance Forum (IUF) is an open forum for dialogue on issues of Internet censorship, freedom of speech, surveillance, privacy and community-centric governance approaches conceived by the Alternative Informatics Association. The first Forum was held in Turkey in September, 2014 and served as model for the organization of the Brazilian and Italian Forums of 2015.

Knowledge Ecology International

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) is a non-governmental organization. It was founded by Ralph Nader in 1995 and was then called Consumer Project on Technology. It deals with issues related to the effects of intellectual property on public health, cyberlaw and e-commerce, and competition policy. It has fought the Microsoft monopoly, the ICANN monopoly, software patents, and business method patents. It has supported free software in government, open access for the Internet, and privacy regulation. KEI works on access to medicines, including a major effort on compulsory licensing of patents. Beginning in 2002, CPTech began to work with Tim Hubbard and others on a new trade framework for medical research and development (R&D). In the context of current bilateral agreements, this is referred to as R&D+, which in contrast to TRIPS+ approaches.

KEI is also working with a number of other NGOs to change the mission of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), so that it operates more like a true UN agency, with a social rather than a commercial agenda.

The organization is directed by James Love.

Open Knowledge International

Open Knowledge International (OKI), known as the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) until April 2014 and then Open Knowledge until May 2016, is a global, non-profit network that promotes and shares information at no charge, including both content and data. It was founded by Rufus Pollock on 24 May 2004 in Cambridge, UK.Its slogan is, "Sonnets to statistics, genes to geodata ..."

Open Rights Group

The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based organisation that works to preserve digital rights and freedoms by campaigning on digital rights issues and by fostering a community of grassroots activists. It campaigns on numerous issues including mass surveillance, internet filtering and censorship, and intellectual property rights.


The Right2Know Campaign is a South African non-profit advocacy organisation established in 2010 to reduce state secrecy in the drafting of laws, increase access to information, and protect freedom of expression especially on the internet. As part of this the campaign monitors and challenges potential legislation that it believes would infringe on personal liberties and transparent government. It is the first such organisation of its kind in post-Apartheid South Africa.

Right of access to personal data

The Right of Access, also referred to as Right to Access and [data] subject access, is one of the most fundamental rights in data protection laws around the world. The European Union states that: "The right of access occupies a central role in EU data protection law's arsenal of data subject empowerment measures."

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