SOUTH AFRICA | COPYRIGHT AMENDMENT BILL 2017

A revised version of the Copyright Amendment Bill was introduced into the National Assembly on 16 May 2017 in terms of Section 75 of the Constitution.

The Copyright Amendment Bill, which was first published for comment in July 2015, both commended and criticised by stakeholders and experts in the field.  It appears that a lot of work has gone into putting together a revised version of the Bill that seeks to make much headway in addressing the concerns previously expressed.

In comparison with the first Bill, briefly, some of the revisions to the previous Bill include:

  • removal of the provisions relating to the creation of a new type of work, namely craft works; protection of performers’ rights; protection of rights of phonograms; and promotion of broadcasting of local content. Protection of performers’ rights and the promotion of broadcasting of local content are already dealt with in other legislation and policies, such as the Performer Protection Act, an amended version of which was published for comment in December 2016;
  • an amended definition of ‘orphan work’;
  • that there is no longer a substitution of the definition of ‘reproduction’;
  • removal of the provision that state copyright shall be perpetual;
  • it appears that the resale of royalty right is now limited to artistic works, no rate is prescribed in the Bill and instead provision is made for the Minister to publish the proposed rate in the Gazette. There is also a presumption regarding the identity of the user, performer, owner, producer or author and the duration of the resale royalty has been limited in line with the duration of the term of copyright.

What has also been retained from the previous Bill include the provisions surrounding parallel importation of goods, numerous exceptions to infringements, regulation of collecting societies and the establishment of a Copyright Tribunal.

The scope of copyright protection has been specified not to include ideas, methods of operation or mathematical concepts and, in the case of computer programs, interface specifications have been excluded.  Furthermore, copyright protection of tables and compilations shall not extend to their contents.

Various specific technology related provisions have been included.

As a Section 75 Bill, the next step is for the Bill to be considered by the relevant portfolio committee.  If there is great public interest in a Bill, the portfolio committee may organise public hearings to allow interested parties an opportunity to submit written comments or oral representations.

WERINA GRIFFITHS

Partner
Trade Mark Attorney

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LISA VAN ZUYDAM

Senior Associate
Trade Mark Attorney

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