Copyright & Performers Protection Amendment Bills – Crises Looms for South Africa

The Copyright & Performers’ Protection Amendment Bills are, right now, being voted on by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). If approved, they go to the President for signing into law – unless he rejects them or refers them to the Constitutional Court.

These Bills will have a profound impact on our sector. As they stand, they call for, amongst others:

  • Mandatory royalties for all performers, including extras, with no legal option to opt for a different remuneration model.
  • Limiting the assignment of rights to 25 years, meaning that unless you renegotiate contracts with every single ‘rights holder’, you may not commercialise your production ever again.
  • The Minister (DTIC) will set contractual terms and determine royalties rates.
  • Registration and reporting to all rights holders on every act of commercialisation of your production anywhere in the world. Failure to do so will result in your being fined 10% of your annual turnover and a possible five year prison sentence.
  • The adoption of ‘Fair Use’, which means your content can be used/reproduced without approval or payment for any ‘educational’ purpose which opens the door to anyone else wanting to use your content without payment.

The impact of the above and the legal and financial uncertainty they pose, will not only add to administrative burden and but, critically, will disincentivise investment in our sector and see billions in international servicing work go to other countries, because the Bills are so out of line with global norms.

This will mean fewer productions and less work for all in the industry, not least of all for performers who are pushing hard for the Bills to be passed and dismissing our warnings of the consequences.

As we’ve mentioned over the past two years, we (all the organisations listed in the campaign) have made endless written submissions and oral presentations to Parliament and the NCOP of Provinces, but these have fallen on deaf ears.

Now, in a strong, final effort to convince government of the unintended consequences of these Bills on our sector and almost all sectors in the creative industries, we’ve rallied together with other industry bodies to launch a public campaign, Act Now South Africa.

Here’s the campaign announcement, which contains links to all campaign social media platforms. Please view, like and share these as widely as possible. This article by the Commercial Producers Association explains the campaign in more detail.

We’re grateful that so many organisations representing the business end of the creative industries have come together to make this campaign possible. Our thanks to all who have contributed, not least of all our Deputy Chairperson Jahmil XT Qubeka, and to Bobby Amm (CPA) and Nick Cloete (Animation SA) who have been incredibly hard-working collaborators on this journey.

For more highly informative articles on the Bills please read:

SA’s Copyright Amendment Bill threatens livelihoods

Copyright Amendment Bill process drawn into question