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Parliament moves ahead with amendments to Copyright Bill ahead of ConCourt case

The activists want this section inserted in the bill to create exceptions to the Copyright Act for the benefit of the blind and people with visual and print disabilities. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

The activists want this section inserted in the bill to create exceptions to the Copyright Act for the benefit of the blind and people with visual and print disabilities. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published May 11, 2022

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Cape Town - Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry has urged interested parties to visit its website to view comments on additional clauses in relation to the Copyright Amendment Bill.

This move follows last December’s call by the committee for all stakeholders to submit written submissions on additional definitions and clauses in relation to the bill.

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Based on the inputs received, the committee intended to go beyond amending the sections in the Act, as envisaged in the Copyright Amendment Bill, as well as substantive amendments to existing clauses.

The committee said among the additional provisions to be considered was Section 19D incorporating treaty wording in respect of importing or exporting accessible format copies.

This is the section that is at the heart of Thursday’s landmark case at the Constitutional Court, brought by activists from Blind SA and Section 27.

The activists want this section inserted in the bill to create exceptions to the Copyright Act for the benefit of the blind and people with visual and print disabilities. In their case, the activists are urging the court to confirm that the Copyright Act, as it stands, is unconstitutional.

They say it does not ensure that all people who are blind or visually impaired can immediately get access to the vast libraries of published works available to sighted people under the terms of an international treaty that South Africa adheres to.

Meanwhile, the activists from Blind SA and Section 27 plan to march to the Constitutional Court on Thursday to protest in support of the case.

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In 2017, the Department of Trade and Industry made a commitment to ratify the treaty as soon as the Copyright Amendment Bill was enacted.

Parliament adopted the Copyright Amendment Bill in March 2018. However, four years later, there has been little movement on the matter as a result of heated debates about other sections of the Bill.

The activists want the court to “read in” Section 19D with immediate effect and said the reading in should be made permanent after 12 months if Parliament had not yet finalised the legislative process for the bill.

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