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Call to support our authors and our industry

A controversial and extremely damaging Copyright Amendment Bill is being introduced in the South African National Assembly to be debated and voted on in its Second Reading. It was initially introduced in Parliament in May 2017 to amend the Copyright Act of 1978. Amendments were intended, among other things, to update the Act to accommodate the digital era and improve protection of artists and authors.


The current Bill before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry has followed a questionable process, is poorly drafted and not based on clear policy. According to industry and legal experts, it will be unimplementable in practice and numerous clauses are in contravention of South Africa’s international treaty obligations.


The Bill allows the use of copyright materials without permission and therefore without compensation to copyright holders – authors, illustrators and publishers. In fact, the Bill could be interpreted to allow broad use of copyright material, to the extent that entire books could be copied for “educational purposes” in certain circumstances. As such it threatens the rights and livelihoods of authors and publishers – especially of educational works.


In the absence of and to compensate for the Department of Trade and Industry’s failure to do so PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) did an impact study commissioned by the Publishers Association of South Africa (PASA).  The study indicated that the publishing industry stood to lose approximately R2.1 billion (or 33%) in revenue per annum.  It is from these book sales that authors earn their income because their royalties are a percentage of the income.


The Bill is being rushed through with undue haste, ignoring valid objections and expert advice. We consider it to be in contravention of international treaties signed by South Africa and also the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution.


A number of organisations, including PEN South Africa, PEN Afrikaans, the Association for Academic and Nonfiction Authors of South Africa (ANFASA), PASA and others have joined in continued protest by means of a petition (facilitated by LitNet).  The link to the petition is here: https://www.litnet.co.za/south-african-authors-protest-against-copyright-amendment-bill/  

The petition closes on Friday, 30 November 2018 at 5pm. 

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