Cape Town - Creatives, lobby groups and political parties are divided over the Copyright Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly last week.
The Bill, which has now been sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence, will now become the focus of parliamentary hearings, as well as public hearings, in all nine provincial legislatures.
The draft legislation seeks to introduce fair copyright to South Africa, ensure fair royalties for creators and fair use for communities, as well as to bring it in line with international treaties and best practice.
It also seeks to balance the rights of originators or artists with those of the users, while simultaneously giving support to the creative and commercial success of SA art and artists.
ReCreate South Africa, which promotes the interests of South African creatives with regards to copyright legislation, said the Bill would bring South Africa’s laws into line with other dynamic creative economies such as the United States, South Korea and Singapore.
In a statement published on their website, ReCreate said the Bill would be a step forward into a fairer information economy.
They said copyright in Africa was a tax on creators and learners.
“We all pay fees to large multinational companies when we want to read a book or distribute a song. Here's to decolonisation of knowledge in the interests of African creators and communities.”
The Bill was passed with the ANC using its majority, despite the dissension of the DA, EFF, Freedom Front Plus and the ACDP.
Giving the thumbs down to the Bill, ACDP deputy president Wayne Thring said the party believed the introduction of “fair use”, as opposed to “fair dealing”, in the Bill, could potentially plunge the SA online market for creative works into legal uncertainty.
He said this would increase the risk of litigation, as well as create entry barriers for new services and creators.
Thring said: “It must be remembered that in the US, fair use has been developed in 150 years of jurisprudence, whilst SA does not have this case law history or experience.”
The Copyright Coalition of South Africa (CSSA) said the passing of the Bill was extremely disappointing and a sad day for the South African creative industry.
At the same time, the Constitutional Court has yet to pass judgment in the landmark case about the Copyright Act, brought in May this year about access to books for people with visual disabilities.