CISAC Statement on the South African Copyright Amendment Bill

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CISAC Director General Gadi Oron made the following statement:

CISAC is the world’s leading network of authors’ societies, with a global community of members representing more than 5 million creators of all artistic repertoires worldwide.

Today CISAC comes out in support of many in South Africa’s creative community in asking the National Assembly not to adopt the country’s Copyright Amendment Bill in its forthcoming vote. If adopted, the Bill will harm South Africa’s creative community, devalue creators’ works and be out of step with international best practice.

The Copyright Amendment Bill is the first comprehensive effort to modernise South Africa’s copyright law in 50 years. This is an opportunity to bring the copyright system into the modern age and ensure creators’ rights are effectively protected well into the future. However, despite protests from the creative community over the last few years, the Bill remains flawed. It will weaken copyright, which is the very foundation of creators’ economic sustenance. This will have serious economic consequences for those who make a living in the creative industries, and will endanger the next generation of creators.

As has been repeatedly highlighted by the creative sector, the Bill falls short in several ways. First, it includes a long and open-ended list of exceptions to copyright. This excessive focus on exceptions, instead of the rights of creators, is not what the function of a new copyright law should be. It devalues works, opening up many new uses for which creators will no longer have the right to earn royalties.

Second, there is a concept of “Fair Use” which apparently copies US legislation, but in fact goes far beyond that. This is a lose-lose situation for both creators and users that will lead to uncertainty in the market, for which the only fix would be expensive and wasteful litigation. Creators do not have deep pockets to afford that. Wasting time and resources for everyone in courts is not what good legislation should do.

The democratisation of information and education are important objectives, but they should not come at the expense of South Africa’s poets, composers, culture and creativity.

Last, creators in South Africa deserve to be protected to the same level as their international counterparts. This would not be the case if the new Bill is adopted. On the contrary, with its broad exceptions and lack of precision, South Africa’s Bill is out of step with international standards. This is why CISAC  has repeatedly urged a change of course by the government.  

The Bill is a positive initiative that fails to serve the intended purpose – to protect creators and ensure that South Africa has a modern, fair and fit-for-purpose copyright environment.  We ask that the National Assembly thinks again and does not adopt the current Bill draft.



CISAC – the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers – is the world’s leading network of authors’ societies. With 225 member societies in 116 countries, CISAC represents over four million creators from all regions and artistic repertoires, including music, audiovisual, drama, literature, and visual arts. CISAC, whose President is singer-songwriter and ABBA co-founder Björn Ulvaeus, protects the rights and represents the interests of creators worldwide.