American University Awarded Multi-Million Dollar Grant from Arcadia Fund to Build Geneva Center on Information Justice

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American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) received a major grant from Arcadia, a charitable foundation, for its Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) to build a new Geneva Center on Information Justice. The grant will advance PIJIP’s ongoing project on Copyright and the Right to Research, previously supported by Arcadia.

“We are proud that Arcadia has recognized American University’s ongoing leadership in the fields of intellectual property and information law with this grant,” said Vicky Wilkins, acting provost and chief academic officer. “There is no greater testament to the outstanding work of AUWCL Professor Sean Michael Flynn and the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property than this substantial investment.”

The project aims to foster collaboration among scholars, civil society stakeholders, and governments to promote evidence-based international policy on access and use of materials for research in the digital environment.

"This issue has gained prominence with the rise of artificial intelligence applications that use the same computational research techniques as scholars. These tools are now the focus of new copyright and regulatory reform agendas around the world, many of which will be debated in and guided by Geneva-based institutions," said Sean Flynn, director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at AUWCL and the principal investigator for the Copyright and the Right to Research project.

The project's primary focus is to produce and disseminate information into international policy forums to promote evidence-based policymaking impacting the rights of researchers and other users to use digital tools and methods. International forums, including the World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Telecommunications Union, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and others, are debating norms and standards on copyright, artificial intelligence regulation, and other issues that could impact research and other user rights.

Core activities of the project will include:

Geneva-Based Policy Monitoring Technical Assistance

In partnership with the Geneva-based intergovernmental organization South Centre, the project will provide legal technical assistance to delegations from developing countries in copyright and intellectual property law-making forums.

Research and Academic Network Support

The project will support a network of leading academics and university-based research centers contributing policy-relevant scholarship and analysis, including through PIJIP’s open-access working paper repository. The grant will also help establish a new fellowship program for emerging scholars who are interested in this area of research.

Civil Society Support

The project will provide technical legal support to the Access to Knowledge Coalition, a global network of researchers, cultural heritage institutions and civil society organizations that engage in research and public education on copyright reform.

An expansion of the project will house these activities in a new Geneva Center on Information Justice, which will be a collaboration between PIJIP and other university-based information law research centers. The creation of the Geneva Center was endorsed by the 2024 Annual Meeting of the Global Expert Network on Copyright User Rights. Representatives of the following institutions have volunteered to join a planning process for the creation of the center:

  • Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, American University
  • University of Cape Town -IP Unit
  • University of São Paulo (USP) - IP Observatory
  • Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam
  • Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro - Graduate Program on Public Policy and Development (UFRJ/PPED)
  • Centre for IP Research and Advocacy/ National Law School of India University, Bengaluru
  • IP Osgoode, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto
  • Centre for Law, Technology and Society, University of Ottawa
  • The Shamgar Center for Digital Law and Innovation, Tel-Aviv University
  • Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP), KU Leuven

The center will also collaborate with individuals representing the University of Michigan Library, the project on Feminist Legal Studies at Queens University, Canada, and others.