South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently held a public consultation on the Copyright Amendment Bill, as part of a review to modernize national copyright law for the digital era and in line with international developments.
In its submission to the consultation, EIFL commends DTI for the stated purpose of the Bill to increase access to knowledge, access to education and learning materials, and for persons with disabilities.
EIFL endorses the ‘Joint Comments on the South African Copyright Amendment Bill 2015’ (alternative link), the product of a collaboration by an international team of academics from South Africa and the US. The EIFL Draft Law on Copyright (2014), itself the result of an international consultation, is referenced extensively in the Joint Comments.
In addition, EIFL highlighted its support for the provision protecting copyright limitations and exceptions from override by licence terms in contracts (Section 39A), a provision that we believe is critical to ensuring access to knowledge in the digital environment.
Developments in copyright law in South Africa are an important exemplar for libraries in other countries. EIFL values the leadership role of South Africa at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and appreciates proposals by the African Group on limitations and exceptions for libraries and archives.
We hope that a modern copyright law fit for the digital age can be achieved in South Africa, joining other countries around the world that are also updating their laws. Such a law could also have effect beyond South Africa, as a helpful model for the rest of the continent.