Trade and enterprise minister Rob Davies these days replied to a letter from the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association of SA (Anfisa), sent earlier of the National Assembly’s adoption of the Copyright Amendment Bill. The letter had informed him of a petition co-managed by way of the association soliciting to reconsider the law. The petition had more than three 000 signatories, including mentioned authors, artists, and playwrights JM Coetzee, Athol Fugard, John Kani, Breyten Breytenbach, and Wilbur Smith Deon Meyer, and Zapiro, amongst others. The association concurs with the goals and standards expressed inside the minister’s response — that copyright has to be an instrument to power innovation and generate creativity.
These targets chime perfectly with Anfasa’s, which include assisting and uplifting authors and raising their status in society; ensuring authors receive adequate recognition and price of royalties; advocating for the intellectual property rights of authors; encouraging creativity; and in the end, contributing to SA lifestyle and history. Anisa’s function on copyright regulation is that it has to balance authors’ entitlement to reward for their skills and labor on one aspect and, on the opposite, the desires of society to advantage from what the authors have written. Copyright law is complicated and sensitive, and while that balance is disturbed, there are unintended results to the detriment of medical and cultural development. Therefore, we are certain to correct the minister’s statement that “the 1978 Act had no exception for training or studies”.
Sections 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19A, and 19B of the modern-day act, and chapter 1 of the copyright regulations, already lay out several exceptions for education and research. However, the invoice broadens and extends those exceptions to the point in which unauthorized, unpaid, and even unacknowledged use of a writer’s paintings is authorized if it is “for education” — an undefined reason open to many levels of interpretation. The result could be wonderful legal uncertainty and an open invitation to countless and expensive litigation that neither authors nor libraries and universities can afford. The minister additionally says the cost of purchasing educational cloth in SA may be very high, “consequently flexibilities will be incorporated with teaching exceptions.” It seems he is announcing that because textbooks and scholarly journals are pricey, the regulation goes to be modified to cause them to cheaper. Many of our participants are themselves teachers and teachers, and they’re as involved that many, if no longer the majority, of students can’t afford to shop for books.
That is why a collective licensing machine permits copying of extracts from published educational cloth for a small fee. For a college maintaining a “blanket license” to replicate chapters and articles and distribute them in direction packs, the charge per pupil in step with annum is R129. Fifty-six, plus VAT. Knowing this, we were amazed by using what Joanmariae Fubbs, chair of the portfolio committee, stated in parliament: “I am instructed that presently students should pay R1,000 to apply one or one-and-a-half of chapters in a textbook.” The minister himself spoke in the parliament of “the ridiculous belief that each time you visit a photocopy device, you need to position a bucket of money into somebody’s pocket” and “as politicians, we have to make selections. I think we made no apology for making selections in favor of students in schooling.”
The affiliation was also disappointed by these motivations for copyright exceptions because they were not supported using any studies or impact evaluation about the bill, nor turned into this meant impact of the invoice even debated with the aid of the portfolio committee. The 2014 regulatory effect evaluation to which the minister refers in his reply to us most effectively justifies the statutory licenses in Agenda 2 of the bill, and truly now not, as he said, the invoice’s technique on copyright exceptions and limitations. The affiliation unreservedly supports decisions that cause blessings for students. Learning and knowledge manufacturing is in the middle of our ideology. However, when making unfastened what is currently licensable will result in a student saving R129.56 in keeping with the year even as notably decreasing authors’ earnings, one can’t assist but query the information of that choice.
If one critiques the consultative system main up to the invoice’s passage through the National Assembly, the inescapable conclusion is that a few positions were continuously favored over others. Our organization changed into involved in this system from the start. We attended numerous meetings, conferences, and seminars. We made submissions. We participated in public hearings in parliament. But no longer an unmarried one of the concerns we raised on behalf of authors, or the factors we made about the stability of needs and pursuits copyright regulation must are searching for to hold, turned into taken into consideration. This and the most recent pronouncements increase whether or not the invoice is set the want for exceptions and flexibilities and the essential position of universities as producers of new information, or whether there is every other agenda influencing decision-makers.
Indeed, it appears the bill is set growing a felony framework with excessively huge exceptions to copyright (broader than in any other USA that is a member of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights); a framework that has been promoted with the aid of human beings recognized to be near US internet technology businesses and who’s been lively in SA and other countries, and who seem to have had preferential get right of entry to the department of change & enterprise (DTI) and parliament. Their promise of legislating unfastened makes use of copyright works to gain internet technology, to the detriment of the creators of these works, coupled with the chance of a reduction of the value of education for governments, ought to seem irresistible. But those loose makes use of coming at a fee, the effect of which has no longer been assessed by using the DTI.
The invoice’s immoderate copyright exceptions confiscate authors’ rights, the spoils of to be shared between individuals who make these works available the use of internet era and educational authorities and institutions that pick out to reuse those works without remuneration. Though we are sympathetic to the minister’s competition that the invoice “can’t be not on time any further,” it was fatally flawed from the beginning. The authorities and parliament ought to ask themselves whether or not, in truth, this invoice will do what it is supposed to do. Namely, it benefits students, manufacturers of understanding, and innovators, in addition to society is preferred.