File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The Copyright Amendment Bill to be debated in the National Assembly today has been met with mixed reactions.

The Publishing Association of SA (Pasa) said last year they commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to do an impact assessment, which projected that the industry would lose about R2.1 billion a year. 

“We support amending the outdated aspects of the current Copyright Act (1978),"  said Dr Nicol Faasen, Pasa’s legal affairs chair.

However, he cautioned that the bill itself was “deeply flawed” and not based on clear policy fundamentals.

Pasa’s executive director, Mpuka Radinku, said: “We expect that the benefits for authors from the new royalty sharing provisions will be largely illusory, and that their rights will be undermined by extensive new exceptions under which there will be no remuneration at all.” 

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said the Copyright Act, 1978 (Act No. 98 of 1978), was outdated. He said that there had been gaps identified in the access for libraries, archives and museums and for people living with disabilities.

Authors have also united with a petition against the adoption of the bill, which they presented to the minister on Monday with more than 3000 signatures. Individual signatories include the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, JM Coetzee, iconic playwrights John Kani and Athol Fugard.

Gabeba Baderoon, acclaimed poet and academic said: “I oppose the Copyright Amendment Bill because it undermines the whole ecology of generative relations that sustain writers and artists by unreasonably expanding the definition of ‘fair use’ of their work without compensation. 

"What is at stake is not only the capacity of artists to patch together a living but the very way we make culture.”