9º Congresso Mundial de Informação em Saúde e Bibliotecas

Salvador, Bahia - Brasil, 20 a 23 de setembro de 2005


4ª Reunião de Coordenação Regional da BVS

19 e 20 de setembro de 2005

The equitable access to information in the light of Copyright issues: an invitation to reflection


The equitable access to information in the light of Copyright issues: an invitation to reflection

The purpose of this paper is to discuss a few concepts related to copyright of scientific works, based on the progress of legislation, conventions and treaties, in the historical context, and taking account equitable access to information proposed by the VHL – Virtual Health Library, which is a model of information and health scientific-technical knowledge management by BIREME/PAHO/WHO.
Relevant points will be raised, such as the worldwide tendency to report scientific and technical information by electronic and virtual means, considering the limitations and restrictions imposed by legislation, such as the complexity of meeting all the requirements provided by current norms (such as the International Berne Convention of 1886) for the copyright of literary works, revised in Berlin (1908) and added to by the Berne protocol (1914), becoming a barrier to the equitable access to information.
The solutions found by local institutes, such as the “fair use” employed by American legislation, whereby the legitimacy lies in use and dissemination of a socially relevant, not-for-profit literary work, thus not characterizing a breach of copyright and enabling access to information to be more democratic; the open access initiative, which enables free access to full texts of scientific works yet guaranteeing to authors control over integrity of their works and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited; as well as the open archives initiative, in which the authors themselves enter their works in public sites and maintain the copyright of the first version (pre-print). 
This work does not intend to decharacterize the authorship of scientific and technical works, or of any literary work, but it does intend to point out and warn of a new worldwide understanding with regard to this subject, even taking into account the emergence of the world computer network - the Internet.
Hence, it intends to present the two great trends in modern thought on the subject. The first, which seeks to protect the individual “author” for his work; and the second, which seeks, by means of equitable access, to socialize information in a qualitative and equal fashion, aiming at a major social purpose – the social asset, the collectivity -, as provided under most Constitutions in democratic countries.
This is an invitation to reflect, not just in historical terms, but rather on new trends that are counter-imposing themselves to legislation that protects copyright, which make initiatives that are innovative and benefit society as a whole, such as “open archives” and “open access”, impossible.