Minister Mthethwa concedes Copyright Amendment Bill cannot forge ahead
8 November 2019
The Coalition for Effective Copyright welcomes the remarks by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa on the need to push the brakes on the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers Protection Amendment Bill.
During a breakaway session at the 2019 South Africa Investment Conference on The Creative Economy, Minister Mthethwa stated that government should never pass a law which opponents have raised rational points against.
“We have listened to what people are saying, and ours is to advise the presidency, and that’s what we are doing, that we cannot forge ahead come what may.”
The Coalition for Effective Copyright, representing a broad consensus within the creative and cultural sector, has consistently conveyed to the government and the department the threat that the Copyright Amendment Bill poses. Therefore, we are encouraged by what the Minister has said.
This risk was escalated from a theoretical threat to a tangible, economic one last month when the United States announced plans to review South Africa's eligibility in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the American programme which allows duty-free imports from less developed countries. The review is a result of concerns about the effect of the Bills on the country’s intellectual property protection and enforcement.
If South Africa’s GSP status is suspended or withdrawn, it would affect R12 billion worth of South African exports to the United States.
There are critical questions about the constitutionality of the Bills. The Bills violate not only the Bill of Rights, but also South Africa’s treaty obligations under international law. It is reported that the President has now made incisive enquires about the background to the Bill to determine their constitutionality.
The Coalition will therefore be writing to the Minister to request that he not only advise the President to return the two Bills to Parliament, but that he also convenes an industrywide forum to fully ventilate the issues around the Bills. An industry-focused engagement is the only way to find a solution that protects and promotes the country’s creative and cultural sector to benefit from the President’s investment drive.
Issued by Collen Dlamini, Chairperson, Coalition for Effective Copyright in SA, 8 November 2019