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SAFREA raising the alarm on gazetted changes to South Africa's Copyright Act

The Southern African Freelancers' Association (Safrea) is greatly concerned about the potential impacts of the Copyright Amendment Bill, as gazetted by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) on 27 July 2015...

Safrea Chairperson, Clive Lotter, says that an update to the Copyright Act of 1980 is long overdue and is pleased that the dti is addressing this legislation. "However, the proposed amendments, as gazetted, pose more questions than answers. As written, certain of these clauses could threaten the rights and livelihoods of our members, as well as of all media creatives in South Africa. These clauses would undermine our rights to our creative works and do not take into account South Africa's obligations under international copyright regimes, to which South Africa is a signatory."

"Each freelancer involved in the production of intellectual property represents a micro business operating in a fragile environment. We are already precluded from many of the legal protections afforded to organised labour and certain professions. Any regulations that hamper the sustainability of freelance micro businesses by threatening individual copyright protection are retrogressive. It also flies in the face of government's strategic intent to develop the small business sector."

"Our reading of the dti's proposed amendments concurs with the expert views already expressed by Professor Owen Dean and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Intellectual property in this digital age needs to be clearly defined and protected, but in its present form the Copyright Amendment Bill will do more harm than good."

"Safrea calls on all associations representing creative professionals involved in producing art, works or intellectual property to study the proposed changes to the Act and submit your comments to the dti before the 16 September 2015 deadline. Safrea will partner with any such entity to proactively engage with the dti to help make South Africa's new copyright regime a creator rather than destroyer of jobs", concludes Lotter.

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