South African Copyright Amendment Bill published for Public Comment

The Copyright Amendment Bill, 2015 ("Bill") was published for public comment as Notice No. 646 in the Government Gazette (No. 39028) of 27 July 2015. Whilst amendments to South Africa’s copyright law (Act No. 98 of 1978) have been expected for some time and are long overdue, much of the Bill’s contents have been received by the public with alarm. Inconsistencies and contradictions between the existing Copyright Act and proposed Bill are rife, but can and hopefully will be remedied before the Bill is presented to Parliament. Of more concern should be the intention of the Bill that the ownership of all copyright of deceased individuals will upon their passing vest automatically in the State at which point the State will own such copyright in perpetuity and be prohibited from assigning the copyright to any other person.

Provision is also made for performers issues and requirements on broadcasters to broadcast a subminimum local content, none of which belong in the Copyright Act but rather as amendments to the Performers Protection Act and perhaps as requirements for broadcasters as part of their licence conditions under communication laws. The Bill proposes to establish the so-called Intellectual Property Tribunal which is intended to serve as the “court of first instance” in all IP issues, but as the Bill reads at present has the power to “adjudicate any application… under any legislation”. A first under local law will be the resale right which the creator (read “author”) of an artistic work will own entitling him to a 5% royalty on the commercial resale price of his artistic works. The Bill introduces extensive new provisions and consists of some 52 folios, i.e. too much to deal with for purposes of this circular. Any person with an interest in South African copyright law will be well advised to consider the Bill and make their submissions heard by the deadline of 26 August 2015.

Spoor & Fisher will be making representations to the Department of Trade and Industry on the Bill generally. However, should you require any assistance with a focussed submission or comments on specific sections of the Bill, please feel free to contact us at

Date published: 2015/08/13
Author: Spoor & Fisher

Tags: south afrian copyright amendment bill