STOP PRESS | PRESIDENT REFERS COPYRIGHT AMENDMENT BILL BACK TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
16 June 2020
PRESIDENT REFERS COPYRIGHT AMENDMENT BILL BACK TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
ANFASA is pleased to inform authors that the president, recognising the failings of the controversial Copyright Amendment Bill, has declined to sign it into law, and has referred it back to Parliament for further consideration.
The reasons for the president’s decision are several, and those interested will find more details in his letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly. One of the reasons is that the fair use provisions, which ANFASA had opposed, had not been ‘put out for public comment before the final version of the Bill was published’. Of particular importance to authors of educational and academic works is the president’s concern that the exceptions in section 12 (D) ‘may further run the risk of violating the right to freedom of trade, occupation and profession’. ANFASA had argued strongly against making the copying of textbooks and scholarly works free in educational institutions, as it would have deprived authors of fair remuneration.
It is important to note that the president’s concern is the constitutionality of the Bill, not its fairness, and that access to information will still rank high, as it should, in a revised version.
Just before the president’s decision was revealed to the public, there was a renewed attempt to get the Bill signed. On 4 June an article appeared in the Daily Maverick under the heading ‘Blind SA goes to ConCourt in effort to compel the President to sign Copyright Amendment Bill’. The article is written, not by Blind SA but by a member of ReCreate, an organisation which has lobbied relentlessly for the passing of the Copyright Amendment Bill in its present form. This article went so far as to state that not to sign the Bill would be to perpetuate ‘discrimination against people who live with disabilities’.
While highly critical of the Copyright Amendment Bill, ANFASA recognises the urgent need to cater for the needs of the visually impaired, and supports without reserve the ending of discrimination against people with disabilities. It is now up to copyright stakeholders to work towards achieving this aim and eliminate barriers to the acquisition and enjoyment of the written word by the disabled.
In light of the president’s letter, there is now going to be a new round of consultations in which ANFASA will play a part. In anticipation of renewed and more open-minded thinking by the members of the National Assembly, ANFASA welcomes and encourages comments from its members. We value and need your opinions. Please send your comments to info@anfasa,org.za.
ANFASA Copyright Committee