The IAB SA has made written submissions to the Department of Trade and Industry on the draft Copyright Amendment Bill, which was published in July this year. The initial August deadline for submissions had been previously been extended until 16 September.
“The current Copyright Act which dates back to 1978 is fairly outdated, and it is widely acknowledged that a revision is necessary,” says Andrew Allison, head of regulatory affairs at IAB SA “Whilst the Bill is certainly ambitious and tackles a number of issues that South African intellectual property law is currently ill equipped to deal with, it does suffer from a number of significant flaws. It contains provisions that are inconsistent and contradictory, both within the Bill itself and read against the unaffected provisions of the Copyright Act, and that in other instances are excessively technical, verbose and incomprehensible to the ordinary South African.”
The Bill also exceeds itself in a number of areas. Its requirement that 80% of content carried by public broadcasters, and 60% by private, be of local origin is irrelevant in the context of copyright regulation. It is also concerning for many other unrelated reasons.
Speaking to the importance of copyright transparency, Pria Chetty, regional director of EndCode and member of the IAB SA Regulatory Affairs Council, says that copyright complexity is all too often a barrier to trade and innovation, particularly in a digital world. Often, the result is ignoring the copyright rules and regulations, which are challenging at best to interpret and apply.
In addition, the complexity of licensing creative works impedes digital and knowledge economy opportunities that rely on ease of transfer and distribution of copyright works. What is needed is greater transparency and clarity on copyright ownership and exploitation rules in the country, clear provisions for the legality of licences and contracts, and adequate dealing with the interplay between the law and licences and contracts.
Says Allison: “We welcome the Department’s initiative in driving copyright reform in South Africa, and hope that our submissions will be received constructively. We hope to engage with the Department in more detail on this subject”.