South Africa’s Copyright Bill: don’t let the schedule slip
EIFL urges the National Assembly to ensure that the schedule for the Copyright Amendment Bill stays on track

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EIFL has written to the National Assembly, one of South Africa’s two Houses of Parliament, expressing concern at apparent delays in the adoption of the Copyright Amendment Bill (CAB). We urged the committee in charge of the bill (Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition) to do all in their power to ensure that the schedule for the Bill is not allowed to slip. 

EIFL participated in consultations on the CAB organized by the National Assembly in 2020, 2021 and 2022. We supported provisions that enable digital preservation, online education, the making of accessible format copies for people with print disabilities, and other public interest activities. We welcomed the passing of the bill by the second house, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in September 2023, and we eagerly await agreement of the National Assembly to round up the legislative process. After that, the bill will go to the President for signing into law.

We commend the extensive public consultations, reviews and deliberations on the CAB that have taken place over the last six years (in our experience, the CAB is one of the most scrutinized copyright bills in the world). However, we trust that continued opposition to the CAB from some rights holder industry groups will not contribute to delays or succeed in derailing the Bill at this critical stage.

Time is of the essence: while other countries are modernizing their laws for the digital environment, South Africa is being left behind. The Copyright Act, 1978, adopted in the pre-internet era, is one of the oldest copyright laws in Africa and is no longer fit for purpose. 

Read EIFL’s letter to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, December 2023.