RiSA raises the alarm on the unintended harmful consequences of the Copyright and Performers’ Protection Amendment Bills

The Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) has voiced concerns about the harmful provisions of the Copyright and Performers’ Protection Amendment Bills.

RiSA made representations to the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment, and Labour sitting in Cape Town earlier this month on the planned South African Copyright Amendment Bill (B 13D – 2017)and Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill (B 24D – 2016).

In its submission, RiSA made the following recommendations to avoid the most damaging and harmful consequences of the proposed amendments:

a) that section 39 includes several provisions which deprive artists and producers of their freedom to contract and extend Ministerial powers to regulate private contractual arrangements. These provisions seriously and without justification interfere with the freedom of contract and should be deleted;

b) that section12A introduces an open-ended US-style “fair use” exception into South Africa’s copyright law which causes a substantial risk to the SA creative sector rather than providing it with any benefit. The importation of the US-style fair use” exception in the Copyright Amendment Bill must be resisted. It would undermine the protection of the South African creative community, create significant legal uncertainty, and benefit mainly large foreign companies seeking to use South African works for free.

RiSA tabled its concerns regarding the two Bills, which, if implemented in their present form, will have several dire unintended and harmful consequences. As proposed, the Bills would hamper growth and investment in the South African recorded music industry. As a result, artists would be harmed by the weakening of South Africa’s domestic music market and the ability of the South African industry to export local music.

Nhlanhla Sibisi, RiSA CEO, commented: “Some of the provisions of these Bills would interfere with freedom of contract, undermine the protection of creative works, lead to legal and commercial uncertainty, and create a disincentive from local and international companies to invest in South African cultural industries. A thriving South African cultural sector that creates jobs and generates tax revenues needs robust copyright protection and fair and predictable copyright exceptions. ”

RiSA strongly supports the initiative of the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition and parliament to modernise South Africa’s copyright law to make it a gold standard and to bring it into line with international treaties, including the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty(WPPT), the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), and international best practice, ensuring that they protect all participants in the music value chain but cautions against the unintended consequences of some of the provisions in the Bills.

RiSA, with approximately20 000 members, is the industry body representing the South African recorded music industry and is a member of IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide.

RiSA is also part of the South African Music Industry Council, a body representing organisations in the music industry value chain, and the Copyright Coalition of South Africa, representing the copyright-based industries.

Hearings are conducted nationwide to solicit inputs from various stakeholders and partners in the creative and cultural spaces, and more updates will be shared soon.

· The next stop is Limpopo Capricorn district at Hayani Guest House on Wednesday, 19 April 2023, and Free State and North West will be the last provinces to conduct hearings.

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