Send copyright Bill back to Parliament, Mr President

(John McCann/M&G)

(John McCann/M&G)

I’d like to thank André Myburgh for his article “Why the president must send the Copyright Amendment Bill back to Parliament” (November 1) and to thank the Mail & Guardian for publishing it.

A lot has been said and written about the infamous Copyright Amendment Bill. Tempers have flared. Accusations have been made.
People are divided into “pro-Bill” “anti-Bill” groups.

I refuse to be called “anti-Bill”. I am not against the Bill. But I have spent the past two years trying to convince the parliamentarians who passed the Bill in its entirety that they have been conned because the Bill does not do what it set out to do.

In the National Assembly, and in committee meetings, parliamentarians, one after the other, praised the Bill. I’m prepared to accuse them of not even having read it because they praised it for things that weren’t in it.

Myburgh is immensely knowledgeable about copyright and was appointed to give expert advice to the parliamentary committee considering the Bill. But they didn’t accept the advice they had asked for because it didn’t suit the decisions they had been pre-instructed to take.

Now the Bill lies on the president’s desk, awaiting his signature, and the so-called “pro-Bill” lobby, (spearheaded by a small but vocal group specialising in statements such as “the Copyright Act needs to be decolonised”) are trying desperately to influence him to sign it into law.

It sounds good, when there is such an unassailable need in the country to overcome the harm to the national psyche that colonisation caused. But it demeans what “decolonisation” really stands for. Mr President, please see through that argument.

There are good parts in the Bill, such as those seeking to benefit the visually impaired, and the introduction of a resale right for visual artists. There are good intentions, such as ensuring that creativity doesn’t go unrewarded. But if you actually read it you find otherwise.

As I said, the Bill may mean well but it doesn’t do well. That’s why it has to be sent back to Parliament for a thorough review and unbiased consultation with the stakeholders. Mr President, this Bill is bad for South Africa and it is making a lot of people very, very unhappy. 

Monica Seeber

Monica Seeber

Monica Seeber is a publisher, author, researcher and consultant in the book publishing industry and the cultural and creative sector more broadly. Read more from Monica Seeber

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