Andrew Rens

Unblocking Intellectual property rights


The Big Idea


Andrew - our first fellow in our new funding model - was Intellectual Property Fellow for the Shuttleworth Foundation from 2007 to 2010. He was also Legal Lead for Creative Commons South Africa, a co-founder and director of The African Commons Project, charter member of Freedom to Innovate South Africa and a research associate at the LINK Center. After teaching at Wits Law School he was a fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

A renowned speaker in his field, Andrew has delivered addresses at the Second Conference on Access to Knowledge at Yale Law School, Digital Citizens Indaba at Rhodes University and the National Science and Technology Forum.

Why We Funded


Highlights and outcomes:

Andrew worked extensively on access to knowledge, IP law reform and open education in South Africa throughout his fellowship. With his help, we defined many of the legal frameworks we rely on today, and for much of the progress we have made towards making open viable in a overtly-closed world.

Following his fellowship, Andrew continued to work with the Foundation as counsel, and helped us establish the hugely innovative Open Lock: an agreement baking a founder’s commitment to open into an organisation’s legal structure. Andrew also launched opencounsel.net to help social entrepreneurs, change makers and activists make better use of open licenses, standards and policies.

Today, Andrew helps us apply open licensing to different fields including data, hardware, and biotechnology. Many of our fellows benefit from his voracious commitment to unlocking knowledge and his sharp mind for intellectual property law - he is part of the AccessIBSA team set up by former fellow Achal Prabhala. Outside of the Foundation, is work at the intersection of law, knowledge and innovation has recently veered towards the new, critical issue areas of surveillance capitalism and the Internet of Things.

Andrew on the activist’s long game:

“Advocacy is challenging but especially in South Africa. You do some work but can’t control the policy calendar. You cannot make the issues come to the boil on your terms - certainly not on the resources that nonprofits can muster. But right now, there is a bill in front of the South African parliament that contains some of the copyright reform suggestions we put forward as a result of our research in 2008 and 2009. Finally, I can say some of those ideas got in.”

Funding Breakdown


People
Marketing
Software
Travel
Infrastructure
Training
Office space
Legal

2007

Our contribution:
$66,817.41
Total funds:
$66,817.41

2008

Our contribution:
$154,858.52
Total funds:
$154,858.52

2009

Our contribution:
$83,632.48
Total funds:
$83,632.48

2010

Our contribution:
$14,825.74
Total funds:
$14,825.74
Total funding to date:
$320,134.15

Flash Grants


Male
David Taylor
okapi.org.za/
Male
Frank Bennett
juris-m.github.io/
Female
Priscila Gonsales
www.educadigital.org.br/en/
Female
Lauren Hermanus
www.massivesmall.com/
Male
Luke Jordan
www.grassroot.org.za/
Male
David Gluckman
lumkani.com/
Female
Pria Chetty
Male
Tobias Schonwetter
www.openair.org.za/
Male
Jérémie Zimmerman
www.laquadrature.net/
Female
Kerry Anderson
africanlii.org