In a submission delivered to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), one of the two Houses of Parliament in South Africa, EIFL urged the NCOP to support adoption of the Copyright Amendment Bill as soon as possible.
The Copyright Amendment Bill [B13D - 2017] (CAB) was passed by the National Assembly, South Africa’s other legislative House, on 1 September 2022, and is now with the National Council of Provinces for a new round of public consultations (the next stage in the legislative process).
EIFL submitted written comments by email in response to the NCOP’s call for submissions. In addition, Teresa Hackett, EIFL Copyright and Libraries Programme Manager, took the opportunity while in Cape Town for the conference, A Right to Research in Africa?, to head down to the Houses of Parliament on Friday, 27th January 2023, the deadline for submission of comments.
EIFL strongly supports the Bill, which brings the 1978 Copyright Act into the digital age, and has commented on previous versions of the Bill in response to calls for public consultations. In the current submission, EIFL again commended the CAB for representing a fair balance between the interests of rights holders and the public, and for its compliance with the international instruments to which South Africa is a party.
EIFL’s comments noted that the CAB would -
- Support online teaching and teaching in the digital age. The COVID-19 pandemic, when libraries and educational institutions shifted their services online, had highlighted the importance of appropriate exceptions to enable online access to digital resources.
- Enable libraries and other cultural heritage institutions to preserve South Africa's rich creative expression for future generations, and safeguard it from natural and man-made disasters like floods and fires.
- Boost library services to persons with print disabilities by implementing the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities.
EIFL also addresses concerns raised during a Workshop on the Copyright Amendment Bill, organized by the NCOP Select Committee on Trade and Industry on 18 October 2022, at which the issue of fair use was extensively discussed.
The CAB was originally opened for public comment in 2015, and has undergone multiple rounds of consultation, discussion and drafts. The current version was passed by the National Assembly on 1 September 2022. See the CAB’s history and timeline.
EIFL has made submissions and commented at different stages of the CAB’s progress:
- September 2015 - EIFL submitted comments to South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry in response to a public consultation on the CAB.
- February 2019 - EIFL submitted comments to the NCOP in response to a call for written submissions by interested individuals and stakeholders
- August 2020 - EIFL submitted a letter to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry of the National Assembly expressing strong support for the exceptions in the CAB. The CAB had been approved by the National Assembly in 2019, and sent to the President for signing into law. However, in June 2020, the President referred the Bill back to Parliament with reservations about certain sections.
- July 2021 - EIFL submitted comments to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry of the National Assembly in response to the President’s reservations about the CAB.
- January 2023 - EIFL hand-delivers comments to the NCOP in a response to a call for public comment.