How will copyright in South Africa change?

Written by Andrew Rens on April 14th, 2015

When is copyright reform possible?

James Boyle* suggests some answers to this question, based on his experience as expert adviser to the Hargreaves Review. The Review  conducted in the UK resulted in a number of changes to UK copyright law including the introduction of new exceptions. In (When) is Copyright Reform possible Boyle identifies a number of factors that can bring about positive copyright reform including political will to change copyright law, and public engagement with copyright issues. Will these conditions hold in South Africa?

The government department which exercises oversight over copyright recently held stakeholder meetings and received proposals on amendments to the current copyright legislation in South Africa.  The initial impetus for this process seems to be a concern that musicians, are not receiving what is due to them from collecting societies. In 2011 the Copyright Review Commission began an investigation into collecting societies. Why? One reason is a finding by the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Commission, which considered the impact of intellectual property on developing countries, that South Africa receives far less in the way of royalties than remits to wealthier countries – for literary and artistic works. I briefly reviewed the report by the commission when it was released in August 2012,  and Shiham Shaik analysed the implications of the report for universities.

Following the public workshop some fifty legal scholars (including yours truly) wrote a letter to the Department of Trade and Industry stressing the necessity of Flexible Copyright Exceptions.Caroline Ncube explains that copyright law should be changee to end the book famine for the blind and other print disabled persons. The Association for Progressive Communications recommends the inclusion of fair use in the Copyright Act. Will these flexibilities be introduced into the Act? The next step is for the DTI to send a draft bill to Parliament some time soon.

*Professor Boyle is supervising my doctoral thesis.


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