The Copyright Amendment Bill, which is aimed at ensuring fair compensation for publishers, artists and film producers and is expected to be voted on by the NCOP on Thursday before going to President Cyril Ramaphosa for final approval, is still generating heat in the media, notes Legalbrief.

’We had hoped that common sense would prevail and that this deeply flawed Bill would be withdrawn in order to repair its imprecise terminology and to redraft the parts that erode creators’ rights,’ Collen Dlamini, head of regulatory affairs at Kagiso Media, is quoted as saying in a Business Day report.

And Johannesburg-based musician Pri Hollis said that because of the ‘fair use’ clauses in the Bill, ‘artists will have no protection from rampant plagiarism, which favours those who seek to exploit original content without creating or investing in it’.

Some clauses in the Bill have also been flagged as illogical, including one that says film and music producers must pay retrospective royalties to all incidental performers – such as backup dancers in a music video – that they have worked with in recent decades, even if those performers were paid an upfront fee at the time.

‘Who’s going to invest in a jurisdiction where government tears up yesterday’s contracts and forces you to pay up money that were never negotiated previously,’ asked an unnamed lawyer quoted by Business Day.

In essence, the state will impose sweeping changes to past contracts between performers and publishers. ‘The Bill will further undermine confidence in the film industry and discourage investment,’ said Dlamini. Nhlanhla Sibisi, CEO of the Recording Industry of SA, said while the intentions behind the Bill and the accompanying Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill were ‘noble’, they will probably result ‘in some multinationals asking if they really want to invest in local production’.

Full Business Day report