Business Day

EU warns copy­right bill will hit SA

• Euro­pean rep­re­sen­ta­tives warn that pend­ing leg­is­la­tion will have neg­a­tive ef­fects on cre­ative com­mu­nity and for­eign in­vest­ments

- Bekezela Phakathi Po­lit­i­cal Writer phakathib@busi­nesslive.co.za South Africa Politics · South Africa News · Politics · African Politics · Law · European Union · United States of America · Cyril Ramaphosa · Google · Copyright · Federation for American Immigration Reform · Protection

The EU has joined the US in putting pres­sure on Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to ditch or post­pone the con­tentious Copy­right Amend­ment Bill.

The EU has joined the US in putting pres­sure on Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to ditch pro­posed amend­ments to the con­tentious Copy­right Amend­ment Bill.

EU rep­re­sen­ta­tives said the bill would have an ad­verse ef­fect on SA’s cre­ative com­mu­nity, as well as on for­eign in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing from Europe. SA was a key trad­ing and in­vest­ment part­ner, they said.

In­dus­try stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing mu­si­cians, film­mak­ers and pub­lish­ers, have voiced con­cern about the bill, which is await­ing Ramaphosa’s sig­na­ture be­fore be­com­ing law.

One of the more con­tentious as­pects of the bill is its in­tro­duc­tion of the “fair use” prin­ci­ple used in the US and favoured by Google, which in ef­fect al­lows free use of copy­righted con­tent.

Par­lia­ment ap­proved the bill in 2019. How­ever, the mat­ter has taken a back seat as gov­ern­ments world­wide fo­cus on bat­tling the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

The US is al­ready re­view­ing SA’s pref­er­en­tial ac­cess to its mar­ket un­der its gen­er­alised sys­tem of pref­er­ences (GSP) on con­cern that SA’s copy­right bill will weaken pro­tec­tion for US in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights. GSP al­lows emerg­ing mar­kets to ex­port goods to the US with­out pay­ing penal­ties.

The US is a ma­jor trad­ing part­ner. SA’s to­tal ex­ports to that coun­try in 2018 amounted to $8.5bn, which was about 9% of the value of all prod­ucts shipped by SA about the world.

EU am­bas­sador to SA Ri­ina Kionka said in a let­ter dated March 20 to Ramaphosa’s of­fice that the bloc ap­pre­ci­ated ef­forts to clar­ify var­i­ous as­pects in the suc­ces­sive drafts, but con­cern re­mained about the over­all co­her­ence of the bill.

“In par­tic­u­lar, we once again re­gret the fore­seen in­tro­duc­tion in the SA copy­right regime of pro­vi­sions re­lat­ing to fair use in com­bi­na­tion with an ex­ten­sive list of broadly de­fined and non­com­pen­sated ex­cep­tions.

WE ... RE­GRET THE FORE­SEEN IN­TRO­DUC­TION IN THE SA COPY­RIGHT REGIME OF PRO­VI­SIONS RE­LAT­ING TO FAIR USE

This is bound to re­sult in a sig­nif­i­cant de­gree of le­gal un­cer­tainty with neg­a­tive ef­fects on the South African cre­ative com­mu­nity at large, as well as on for­eign in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing the Euro­pean ones,” Kionka said.

Euro­pean right hold­ers con­tin­ued to ex­press their con­cern to “us in this re­gard as they have done dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod”, Kionka said.

“All cre­ative sec­tors in the EU film in­dus­try, mu­sic and pub­lish­ing in­dus­try have pointed to the pos­si­bil­ity of re­vis­it­ing their in­vest­ment plans in SA due to these con­cerns. Other sec­tors, such as those which are high tech­nol­ogy based, could also suf­fer as a re­sult of le­gal un­cer­tainty cre­ated by the new regime.

“This sig­nif­i­cant de­par­ture from the level of pro­tec­tion of copy­righted pro­tected works, con­trary to the in­ter­na­tional stan­dards in force in most ... coun­tries, is there­fore likely to re­sult in non­neg­li­gi­ble ef­fects for the South African econ­omy.

“We humbly ques­tion whether it may not be op­por­tune to de­fer the adop­tion of this re­form, pos­si­bly by en­gag­ing in a process which would more closely an­chor the South African copy­right regime to the in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions and treaties,” Kionka said.

The pres­i­dency could not be reached im­me­di­ately for com­ment.

Collen Dlamini, spokesper­son for the Coali­tion for Ef­fec­tive Copy­right, which rep­re­sents a broad con­sen­sus in the lo­cal cre­ative and cul­tural sec­tor, said the bill was threat­en­ing SA’s duty-free ac­cess to the US mar­ket. Now it might also threaten in­vest­ment from the EU at a time when SA could least af­ford it.

DE­PAR­TURE FROM PRO­TEC­TION OF COPY­RIGHTED PRO­TECTED WORKS, CON­TRARY TO IN­TER­NA­TIONAL STAN­DARDS

“It is cru­cial to con­sider the big pic­ture: we need to pre­pare to rebuild the coun­try postCovid-19.

“It is ob­vi­ous that a strong ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor that in­cludes strong ed­u­ca­tional pub­lish­ing and an ef­fec­tive in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty frame­work, not fair use or gifts to global big tech­nol­ogy firms, should be gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus,” Dlamini said.

 ?? /File pic­ture ?? Con­cern about bill: In­dus­try stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing mu­si­cians, film­mak­ers and pub­lish­ers, have voiced con­cern about the Copy­right Amend­ment Bill, which is await­ing Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s sig­na­ture be­fore be­com­ing law.
/File pic­ture Con­cern about bill: In­dus­try stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing mu­si­cians, film­mak­ers and pub­lish­ers, have voiced con­cern about the Copy­right Amend­ment Bill, which is await­ing Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s sig­na­ture be­fore be­com­ing law.

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