Key Changes introduced by the Copyright Amendment Bill

On Thursday 28 March 2019, The National Council of Provinces voted to pass the Copyright Amendment Bill (“the Bill”) and the propertyPresident must now sign it into law. The commencement date has yet to be published in the Government Gazette.

According to the Spokesperson for the Coalition for Effective Copyright in South Africa, Collen Dlamini, he acknowledges that it is time to update South Africa’s four-decade-old Copyright Law, but maintains that the Bill will have devastating effects on the Creative Industry as it deviates from its goals and it is fraught with unintended consequences.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, the amendments will protect Authors, Composers, Artists and other Professionals in the Publishing Sector, and that it will improve access to educational materials. It has also previously been argued that the Bill will address a lack of formalisation in the Creative Industry.

Key Changes introduced by the amendments are:

The right to create: The Bill creates modern exceptions to copyright, including a balanced “fair-use” right, that permit digital and other uses necessary to make original work and to exercise their freedom of expression.

The right to own: The Bill removes the apartheid-era standard that made the Commissioner of many works the default owner of the art. This is one of the most important changes for Film Makers and Photographers. No longer will Broadcasters, Publishers and others automatically own all the rights to prevent Artists from re-using their own work in other projects or markets not served.

The right to earn: The Bill improves the regulation of Contracts and Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) to ensure that Artists are paid for their work and protected against abuse and exploitation.

The Bill is not yet signed by the President, but it is safe to say that it has been met with strong resistance from the Creative Industry as it will impact Copyrights Law in South Africa greatly.

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