Associate Professor Tobias Schonwetter

LLB Universität Hamburg
LLMPhD University of Cape Town

Dr. Tobias Schonwetter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Commercial Law, and the Director of the Faculty's Intellectual Property Unit, as well as the Founding Director of the Faculty's iNtaka Centre for Law & Technology. He teaches IP and IT law. He currently leads several development- and innovation-oriented research and capacity building projects, including the Open African Innovation Research network, Open AIR. He regularly advises various government and non-governmental entities on issues relating to IP and, in particular, copyright and open access.

In 2018, Tobias became an Associate Member of the Centre of Law, Technology and Society at the University of Ottawa, Canada; and in 2019 he joined the Department of Science and Innovation’s Open Science Advisory Board. Previously, Tobias has held positions as a Senior Manager – Technology and Innovation Law – at PwC South Africa, as the Regional Coordinator for Africa and Legal Lead in South Africa for the Creative Commons Corporation, as a guest editor for the African Journal of Information and Communication, and as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Intellectual Property Research Unit.

Over the years, Tobias was involved in numerous research projects, including the Open Review of the South African Copyright Act 1978 project, the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) project, the Exploring the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) initiative, the African Scholars for Knowledge Justice (ASK Justice) project, the WikiPrimary project and the Open and Collaborative Science in Development network (OCSDnet) and One Ocean Hub.

Tobias studied and practiced law in Germany and holds PhD and LLM degrees from the University of Cape Town's Law Faculty. Tobias’s linked profile is available here and his twitter handle is @tobyschonwetter.


Books / book chapters

Inclusive Trade in Africa - The African Continental Free Trade Area in Comparative Perspective, Routledge [2019]

  • Chapter 11: ‘A principled approach to intellectual property rights and innovation in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement’ (with Caroline Ncube, Jeremy De Beer and Chidi Oguamanam)

Human Rights, Digital Society and the Law, Routledge [2019]

  • Chapter 21: ‘Africa, the Internet and human rights’ (with CH Powell)

Copyright in Street Art and Graffiti - A country-by-country Legal Analysis", Cambridge University Press 

  • Chapter: ‘South Africa’

Ending Africa’s Energy Deficit and the Law: Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Africa, Oxford University Press [2018]

  • Chapter: ‘Intellectual Property Rights and Access to Energy Services in Africa: Implications for Development’

Situating and Contextualising Openness: Understanding the Diversity and Contexts of Open Science in Development, OCSDnet [publication planned for later in 2019]

  • Theme 3, Chapter 1: ‘Fieldnotes on Tensions Related to Openness in Researching Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Systems and Intellectual Property Rights’

Innovation, IP and Development in Africa, editor, UCT Press [2014]

  • Chapter 1: ‘Innovation, Intellectual Property and Development Narratives in Africa’
  • Chapter 16: ‘The Current Realities of Collaborative Intellectual Property in Africa’

Updating the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection for the Digital Age (2013), Consumers International [ISBN 978-0-9569943-7-0], edited by Dr. Jeremy Malcolm, [principal contributor]

  • Chapter 6: ‘South Africa’

Access to Knowledge in Africa: The Role of Copyright (2010), editor, UCT Press [ISBN 978-1-91989-545-1]

  • Chapter 1: ‘Introduction’
  • Chapter 8: ‘South Africa’
  • Chapter 10: ‘Summary and conclusions on copyright and education in Africa’

Basic Principles of Business Law (2010), 2nd edition, LexisNexis
[ISBN 9780 409 04544 4]

  • Chapter 18: ‘Intellectual Property’

Articles and briefs

‘Parallel Importation Prohibitions and the ‘Politics of the Copy’ in Africa’ IP Unit blog post (4 August 2017)

‘Conceptualising Knowledge Governance for Development’ 19 (2016) African Journal of Information and Communication pp. 1 et seq.

‘Current African Intersections Between Intellectual Property Rights and Knowledge Access’ 16 (2015) African Journal of Information and Communication pp. 3 et seq.

‘Licensing Open Data in Developing Countries: The Case of the Kenyan and City of Cape Town Open Data Initiatives’ 16 (2015) African Journal of Information and Communication pp. 26 et seq.

‘New hope for Africa? Copyright and access to knowledge in the digital age’ (2011) 13(3) Info 64 -74 

‘Copyright and education in Africa: Lessons on African copyright and access to knowledge’ 10 (2009-10) African Journal of Information and Communication pp. 37 et seq.

The ‘Fair Use’ Doctrine and the Implications of Digitising for the Doctrine from a South African Perspective 7 (2006) Southern African Journal of Information and Communication pp. 32 et seq.

Reports & Working Papers

Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation: Assessing Regional Integration in Africa (ARIA VIII) (2017), available at:

Open Data in Developing Countries: Embedding Open Data Practice (2015), available at:

Knowledge & Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future (2013), available at  

IP Watchlist (2010), Consumers International, [contributor]

Access to knowledge in South Africa: Country Study Version 2.0 (2009), edited by A. Rens and R. Kahn, [contributor]

African Copyright & Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Comparative Review of Research Findings (2010) [author]

African Copyright & Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Country Study “South Africa” (2009) [author]

African Copyright & Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Executive Policy Brief “South Africa” (2009) [author]

Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch) 2009, Regional Report Africa [contributor]

South African Open Copyright Review (2009) [contributor]


IP Unit submission to the DTI concerning the Copyright Amendment Bill (2017), available at

Joint Submission of Academics, Experts, Scholars and Pro-Access Advocates to the DTI concerning the Intellectual Property Consultative Framework (2016), available at  

Joint Academic Submission to the DTI concerning the Copyright Amendment Bill (2015), available at

IP Unit submission to the DTI concerning the Copyright Amendment Bill (2015), available at

Marrakesh Treaty – Implementation Guide South Africa (2015), available at

Creative Commons South Africa: Licensor Guidelines (2013), available at:

Summary of the Evolution, Current State, and Potential Future Developments of the Fair or Flexible Dealing Norms in South Africa that Allow the Use of Copyrighted Material, Especially in Documentary Films, Without Permission of the Copyright Holder Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP – American University, Washington, D.C.)

Information Sheet on Creative Commons “NC” and “ND” Restrictions (2008)

Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Copyright Guideline Document (2007)

Copyright Law and Education: Copyright Audit (2007)

Document for Commonwealth Countries on Copyright Matters in Education (2005) Commonwealth of Learning

In the press (excerpt)

Copyright Amendment Bill in Parliament: Whose Right is it anyway? (03 August 2017) Daily Maverick,

South African Government Conference Reveals View on Draft Copyright Bill
(28 September 2015) ip-watch,

Conference Looks at Public Interest in South Africa’s Draft Copyright Bill
(13 September 2015) ip-watch,

Four Corners piracy sentence “draconian” (17 April 2014), (based on interview)

SA legal reform vital for global trade (18 February 2014) ITWeb, (based on interview)

Killing spam softly: POPI in South Africa (15 July 2013) MyBroadband, (based on interview)

Outdated copyright law ‘blocks access by students’ (26 July 2010) Business Day  (based on an interview)

Copyright laws stifle education (23 July 2010) ITWeb article  (based on ACA2K reports)

Creative Commons – the big issue (2009) Techsmart Magazine (based on an interview)

ISP Role in Copyright Policing not yet on Africa’s Radar (2009) Washington Internet Daily (based on an interview)

Masters and Ph.D. theses

The implications of digitizing and the Internet for “fair use” in South Africa (2005), University of Cape Town [Masters thesis]

Safeguarding a fair copyright balance – contemporary challenges in a changing world: lessons to be learnt from a developing country perspective (2009), University of Cape Town [Ph.D. thesis]