Trade, Industry Committee adopts copyright bills

Friday, November 16, 2018

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry has adopted reports on the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers Protection Amendment Bill which seek to establish and protect the rights of creators and copyright owners.

“The copyright legislation seeks to establish and protect the rights of creators and copyright owners while balancing these with the need to provide access to users for purposes that benefit society,” said Committee Chairperson Joan Fubbs.

The Copyright and Performers’ Protection Amendment Bills were introduced to modernise the legislation and align it with international treaties that South Africa intends to ratify or accede to.

Fubbs said the reports, which were adopted by the Committee on Thursday night, will also address unfair contracting between creators or performers and copyright owners.

She said that one of the major shifts in the copyright legislation has been moving from a fair dealing system to a hybrid model based on a similar model that was adopted by Singapore.

Whereas fair dealing only provides a limited number of uses as copyright exceptions and is explicit about these exceptions per type of work, while fair use is more open, providing principles that should be applied to determine what is fair.

“The approach taken by the Committee seeks a middle ground between the two by providing examples of what is fair and the principles to be considered in this regard, as well as providing specific exceptions in certain cases such as for education, libraries and providing people with disabilities with accessible formats.

“This approach is expected to provide more flexibility in a digital age where technology is constantly changing.”

In addition, the Copyright Amendment Bill seeks to regulate all collecting societies and address the historical lack of payment of needle time royalties to musicians.

This includes requiring that all commercial users must keep accurate records of their use of sound recordings and submit them to collecting societies in order to ensure accurate and timeous distributions.

This requirement has also been extended to performers in audio-visual works. 

Meanwhile, the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill strengthens the moral and economic rights of performers in the use of their performances in sound recordings or audio-visual works.

The Copyright Amendment Bill introduces a resale royalty right for the resale of original visual artistic works, such as sculptures and paintings, as permitted under the Berne Convention.

It also provides for a sharing of royalties between creators and copyright owners or licensed users for commercial acts protected by the legislation for literary, musical and visual artistic works and between performers and copyright owners for audio-visual works. 

“The Committee hopes that these two Bills will be to the benefit of all parties involved,” Fubbs said.

The bills will now be sent to the National Assembly for approval. -