Guest Column

Hear our voices on the Copyright Amendment Bill

2019-04-15 13:19
Members of The Trade Union for Musicians of South Africa (Tumsa) march against the Copyright Amendment Bill in April in Cape Town. (Photo: Supplied)

Members of The Trade Union for Musicians of South Africa (Tumsa) march against the Copyright Amendment Bill in April in Cape Town. (Photo: Supplied)

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Dear Mr President

We have marched. We have sung. We have written to our ministers. We have opened up a public debate on this issue, which is critical to our livelihoods and to our country's future. We have followed due process, but as yet, we have not been heard. Now we implore you, sir, to hear our voices…

We are a coalition of content creators from the publishing, music, film, animation, visual arts and other industries, who have come together to oppose the Copyright Amendment Bill in its current form.

We believe the Copyright Amendment Bill now before you will hurt the creators it aims to protect. If passed, it will reduce the income of content creators, and remove the incentive to create original works.

READ: Copyright bill goes too far on royalties

The bill will rob writers, publishers, designers, composers, animators, choreographers – essentially all originators of creative works and content, including cultural creators – of their rightful earnings, by allowing republishing of their content for free. In terms of the bill, this can all be justified, as long as it is said to be for "educational purposes", which in itself is vague and can be exploited.

The bill will create massive confusion around the sharing of royalties and the payment of suppliers for musicians, performing artists and music companies. The bill will fragment the rights in sound recordings, meaning substantial catalogues of recorded music would simply become unusable, ending the revenues they generate for performers, songwriters, publishers and producers alike.

The bill will sow uncertainty in the film industry, disinvestment and the collapse of the sector.

The bill will primarily benefit the tech giants with an interest in republishing our local content for profit and paying the barest minimum to the creators of that content.

The bill is unfortunately not balanced and now focuses on protecting the rights of users of content, instead of the rights of content creators to earn a decent living from their works. These rights must be protected if we are to continue growing our nation's body of knowledge and culture.

Today, the fate of South Africa's creative industries lies in your hands. We implore you, sir, do not sign the Copyright Amendment Bill. Send it back to Parliament for redrafting, so that it better protects the rights of South Africa's content creators. As the musicians aptly put it "Don't sign away our song!"

Yours sincerely

The Coalition for Effective Copyright in South Africa

The Music Publishers Association of South Africa (MPASA)

The Independent Black Filmmakers Collective (IBFC)

The Publishers Association of South Africa (PASA)

Academic and Non-Fiction Authors of South Africa (ANFASA)

Printing SA (PIFSA)

Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA)

RiSA Audio Visual (RAV);

Dramatic, Artistic, Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO)

Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA)

The Writers Guild of South Africa (WGSA)

Animation South Africa (ASA)

Read more on:    publishing  |  copyright  |  copyright amendment bill
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