SA copyright bill threatens EU investment - coalition
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Copyright Amendment Bill threatens investment from the European Union at a time when the country can least afford it, a group lobbying against the proposed law said on Thursday.
Last month, EU ambassador Riina Kionka sent a letter to the Presidency warning that copyright holders in her region were concerned about the bill and that the EU’s film, music and publishing industries were reconsidering investment plans in South Africa.
In a statement on Thursday, the Copyright Coalition of South Africa said this latest warning to the government about the detrimental impact of the bill echoed the same issues the group had already highlighted.
The coalition has said that the fair use provisions in the bill -- which South Africa's parliament passed last year despite criticism that it would effectively allow the free use of copyrighted content, infringing on intellectual property rights -- expose holders of copyright to exploitation of their creation without remuneration.
It has also argued that the regime set out in the bill is incompatible with international conventions and treaties to which South Africa is a signatory, and will be devasting for the country's creative community and on foreign investment.
The coalition has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa not to sign the bill into law, but rather to send it back to parliament.
"As was predicted, the bill has resulted unnecessary diplomatic stress with no upsides, only downsides," it said on Thursday.
"The United States (is) reviewing South Africa’s eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences. If South Africa is deemed ineligible, we could lose duty-free access to the United States’ market to the value of R34 billion. Now the bill also threatens investment from the European Union at a time when South Africa can least afford it."
It said the South African economy was already under unprecedented pressure. In addition to the global economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic, the local creative and cultural industry was feeling the brunt of a recession.
"Yet despite the tough economic climate, the sector has been very patriotic. Record labels have announced numerous initiatives to bring relief to musicians; and artists are entertaining the public for free during the lockdown," said the group.
"Publishers have made millions of digital educational content available for free. The Copyright Amendment Bill poses an existential risk to this critical sector."
The Copyright Coalition of South Africa includes the Independent Black Filmmakers Collective, the Music Publishers Association of SA, the Publishers Association of SA, the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors of SA, Printing SA and the Recording Industry of SA, among several other groups.
- African News Agency (ANA)