IP Unit submits its comment on Copyright Amendment Bill B13-2017

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 17.24.56 PMOnly a few days after convening a 2 day general copyright workshop at parliament for members of the portfolio committee Trade and Industry, the IP Unit submitted, based on an in-depth analysis carried out by domestic and international copyright experts, its comments regarding South Africa’s 2017 Copyright Amendment Bill. Our submission aims to speaks to most of the issues introduced by the Bill, and where appropriate suggestions and model language are provided for further improvement. We note that the 2017 Bill is, as far as the drafting is concerned — and subject to a number of specific comments contained in our document — a marked improvement to the 2015 Copyright Amendment Bill. Some technical drafting errors do, however, remain. In particular, in many sections of the Bill, the word “author” is used, sometimes with a list of others, instead of the term “rights owner” being used. In our comments concerning the 2015 Bill, we expressly welcomed the proposed introduction of a more flexible and open fair use provision. We therefore note with concern that the lawmaker has since decided to significantly reduce the provision’s utility by limiting its applicability to a closed list of permitted purposes, and we strongly urge the lawmaker to reconsider this decision and amend s12 of the 2017 Bill by opening it up again in line with the suggestions in our submission. (One key reason for adopting an open fair use right, i.e., to authorise so-called non-expressive uses of works, is further explored in this Intellectual Property Watch op-ed by professors Flynn (Washington) and Sag (Chicago).) A partial collection of other comments submitted to the South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry regarding the Copyright Amendment Bill can be found here.