Ramaphosa petitioned to stop Bill – Coalition for Effective Copyright

Coalition says if signed into law, the bill will amount to expropriation of local content without compensation

Copyright Amendment Bill: Coalition petitions President Ramaphosa to stop the Bill

16 April 2019

We can announce today that we have officially petitioned President Ramaphosa to refer the unconstitutional Copyright Amendment Bill back to the National Assembly to be reconsidered. The contents of our lawyers’ letter to the President can be accessed here.

President Ramaphosa must stop this unconstitutional Bill which, if signed into law, will amount to the expropriation of local content without compensation.

South African creatives will no longer be paid for the content they create. Our writers will stop writing. Our singers will stop singing. Our artists will stop drawing. Local writers, artists and musicians will be the losers. Big global tech companies with access to an abundance of cheap local content will be the winners.

The destruction of local content will also mean that our country will be flooded with foreign educational material written in Europe and America. Our children will be forced to learn content produced in other countries that they cannot relate to. If President Ramaphosa signs this Bill into law, he will be complicit in the recolonisation of our curriculum.

Fortunately, the President faces a number of insurmountable constitutional hurdles to signing the Bill into law. Our petition to the President, drafted by some of the finest constitutional lawyers in the country, demonstrates the unconstitutionality of the Bill for a number of procedural and substantive reasons, including:

- The Bill has been incorrectly tagged as a section 75 bill (not affecting the provinces), when it should have been tagged a section 76 bill (affecting the provinces). Incorrect tagging is reason alone to have the Bill set aside as constitutionally invalid.

- The Bill amounts to the retrospective and arbitrary deprivation of property, in contravention of section 25 of the Constitution.

- The Bill incorrectly and unconstitutionally delegates legislative authority to the Minister of Trade and Industry.

- There was inadequate public consultation on crucial aspects of the Bill.

- The Bill violates the constitutional right to freedom of trade, occupation and profession.

In short, we believe there are more than enough grounds for President Ramaphosa to send the Bill back to the National Assembly for reconsideration in terms of section 79 (1) of the Constitution.

It is important to point out that, should the President assent to the Bill in its current form, we will have no choice but to approach the Constitutional Court ourselves.

We will not sit idly by while our local artists, writers and creatives have their content stolen from them by big global tech companies. We cannot allow the wanton destruction of South African art and knowledge.

South African creatives – many of whom have overcome huge challenges to get where they are – do not deserve this. We call on President Ramaphosa to do the right thing and send the Copyright Amendment Bill back to Parliament for reconsideration.

Issued by Collen Dlamini, Spokesperson, Coalition for Effective Copyright, 16 April 2019