Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the Republic of South Africa, has referred the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill back to the National Assembly.
In a statement, the President explained his reservations about the constitutionality of the bills. In particular, this includes the legality of the fair use exception in the Copyright Amendment Bill:
“Other reservations cited by the President include copyright exceptions provide for in the Copyright Bill that may constitute arbitrary deprivation of property; may violate the right to freedom of trade, occupation and profession, and may be in conflict with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Treaty and the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty, both of which South Africa subscribes to.”
The Copyright Amendment Bill had been widely criticized in South Africa for depriving local creators and publishers of the licensing income that they are currently entitled to. IFRRO’s members in South Africa, DALRO and PASA, had warned about the potentially devastating impact of the bill on creators’ rights, as did creators around the world. At their annual meeting in 2017, the members of IFRRO’s African Development Committee unanimously adopted a Resolution opposing the bill.
The referral of the Copyright Amendment Bill to the National Assembly for reconsideration is a welcome development. As highlighted in a recent article by André Myburgh, this is an expected outcome given the serious legality issues raised by the fair use exception and the negative impact that it would have on the creative industries in South Africa. IFRRO looks forward to continue supporting its members in South Africa and on the African continent as the discussions move forward.