TechLaw Symposium at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad – Press Note

[Ed Note : The following press note has been authored by Shweta Rao and Arvind Pennathur from NALSAR University of Law. Do watch  this space for more details on the symposium!}

On the 9th of September NALSAR University of Law’s Tech Law Forum conducted its first ever symposium with packed panels discussing a variety of issues under the broad theme of the Right to Privacy. This symposium took place against the backdrop of the recent draft Data Protection Bill and Report released by the Srikrishna Committee.

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PATENTING OF HUMAN GENES: Intellectual Property vs Access to Healthcare & Research

In the case briefs of Myriad Genetics vs Associated Molecular Pathology, amongst the several moving stories of victims of gene patents, contained the story of Abigail, a 10-year-old with a long QT syndrome, a serious heart condition that, if left untreated, could result in sudden death. A company in this case had obtained patent on two genes associated with this condition and developed a test to diagnose the syndrome. But then they went bankrupt and never offered such tests. Another lab tried to offer the test to Abigail, but the previous company which held the patent to such diagnosis threatened to sue the lab for patent infringement. So as a result, for 2 years, no test was available. During that time, Abigail died of undiagnosed long QT.

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Rights of persons with disability and Copyright

Ed. Note.: This post, by Benjamin Vanlalvena, is a part of the NALSAR Tech Law Forum Editorial Test 2016.

How are disabled persons affected by Copyright Law?

The onset of the digital era has brought in an ease of access for persons with disabilities greater access to resources earlier not available not to them through assistive technology.

Copyright laws are set in place to protect the interest of the right-holder of the creative work. However, every time a visually impaired, blind or print disabled person wanted to convert the work into a format compatible with a screen reading software, they would have to reproduce the book in its entirety. A lot of E-books and other similar digital media content have Digital Rights Management (DRM) Systems which place technical restrictions to prevent the copies from being copied. This conflict between persons with disabilities having the right to access information and the copyright holder’s right to control copying of their work created an obstacle for such persons with disabilities leading to a ‘global book famine’. According to the World Blind Union, roughly 5 percent of the millions of books published were made available in formats which would be accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired or print disabled. This is a cause of concern considering that there are 285 million persons in the world who are blind, visually impaired and print disabled, 90 percent of whom live in low-income settings in developing countries.

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The Curious Case of Academic Journals

One of the prominent ways of ‘decorating’ our Curriculum Vitae (CV) is lacing it up with published research papers or articles in renowned academic journals. Not just students, but also teachers, scientists and academicians prefer submitting their works to noteworthy journals of their respective academic disciplines. In cases of public-funded research, the journals get the research almost free of cost, but they charge exorbitant amounts in giving access to these academic articles. Elsevier, the biggest academic journal publisher, made a profit of $1.2 billion on revenues of £2.1 billion in 2011. Yes, it does make Murdoch look like a socialist! In this blog post, I will discuss two possible solutions to this significant problem, first, getting rid of the system of journals altogether and secondly, open access journals along with their pros and cons.

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Public.Resource.Org and others petition Bureau of Indian Standards for Open Access

(Image Source https://flic.kr/p/aCWXFf)

Public.Resource.Org along with other civil liberties advocates in India and Abroad has filed a petition with the Bureau of Indian Standards asking it to make its standards publicly available for free online. The petition is an commendable and crucial step forward for the right to information. The supporters of the petition include Carl Malamud, the founder of Public.Resources.Org, the petitioning organisation, Dr. Vinton G. Cerf, the Father of the Internet, Sri Sam Pitroda, one of the pioneers of communications innovation in India, Swaraj Paul Barooah (KnowGAP, SpicyIP), Dr. Sushant Sinha (IndianKanoon), Dr. Dhrubayyoti Sen (IIT-Kharagpur), Dr. T.I. Eldho, IIT-Bombay, and Mr. Srinivas Kodali, Centre for Excellence in Urban Transport, IIT-Madras.

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