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FF Plus asks President to refer legislative amendments on copyright to the Constitutional Court

The National Assembly (NA) yesterday failed writers, authors and the general creative industry of South Africa when the ANC majority approved the Copyright Amendment Bill (CAB).

The FF Plus implored President Cyril Ramaphosa not to sign it into law, but to refer it to the Constitutional Court instead owing to its unconstitutionality.

In 2020, Ramaphosa referred the CAB back to Parliament because many of its provisions were obviously unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition revised the Bill, whereafter it was referred to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and then back to the Portfolio Committee for adoption by the NA yesterday.

Despite the FF Plus’s many objections, the Portfolio Committee did not address the issues pinpointed by the President. In fact, even more constitutional crises have now been created.

The NA ignored the input and pleas of many writers, authors and publishers and by adopting the Amendment Bill left them at the mercy of consumers from all over the world who will be able to capitalise on the creations of the local creative industry without compensation.

It will be possible to provide and distribute books and other publications to authors, publishers, musicians and music composers without compensation, and it will be possible to use their music in advertisements and films without compensation, according to the principle of “fair use”.

In effect, it means that any consumer will be able to use content usually protected by copyright without having to obtain permission.

South African artists are, therefore, much more vulnerable than their peers in the rest of the world. The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, furthermore, failed to conduct an economic impact study before considering the legislative amendment.

Poor legislation weakens the South African economy and deters investors from investing in a country where copyright is not protected.

The FF Plus is committed to rectifying irrational legislation after the 2024 elections.

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