The controversial Copyright Amendment Bill D-Bill 2017, passed by the National Assembly on 1 September 2023, will next be tabled in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), then to the nine provinces’ parliaments and back to Parliament for finalisation before being submitted to the President for his signature.
Commenting on the legislation, Mpuka Radinku Executive Director of PASA said: "PASA is vehemently opposed to the current version of the Copyright Amendment Bill as it is essentially not different to the Bill that President Ramaphosa rejected in 2020 citing six problematic reservations: (https://www.thepresidency.gov.za/press-statements/president-refers-copyright-and-performers%E2%80%99-protection-amendment-bills-parliament). The cosmetic changes that the National Assembly included in the Bill have not addressed previous flaws such as its non-compliance with international copyright treaties, the destructive “hybrid fair use” provisions and the overbroad exceptions and limitations. PASA is determined to oppose this Bill until all options have been exhausted in which case publishers will appeal to the courts for relief. PASA appreciates the support of the local and international creative organisations in opposing this Bill."
The Copyright Amendment Bill has been systematically opposed by prominent sectors of creative industries over the last 6 years, at national and international levels. IPA has made multiple submissions to South African legislators over the last years. The Bill sets out an insufficient remit of exclusive rights to protect published works, multiple overbroad exceptions & limitations to copyright protection (resulting from a combination of an inadequate fair use provision with fair dealing and many specific exceptions, never seen in any other jurisdiction) and an enforcement framework which, despite some progress, still requires strengthening to effectively prevent and deter massive digital piracy. The Bill also introduces unjustified limitations to contractual freedom. All these factors result in legal uncertainty, which is a halting factor for publishers’ investments.
South African legislators have been advised about the exceptions & limitations system being a defective solution by multiple experts, which motivated reservations and recommendations by South Africa’s President in 2020 upon a refusal to sign the Bill. Yet the defective provisions are kept in the version of the Bill now in consultation. IPA filed a submission calling on the National Council of Provinces to correct this course of action.