Copyright Bill proposes revenues to state…
sent to clients 28 Oct…. Anomalies abound in the draft Copyright Amendment Bill, recently published for comment and now awaiting tabling in Parliament hopefully with a number of changes, say experts in the intellectual property industry.
The Bill primarily affects music, artistic and literary copyrights but the whole issue of patents, copyright and intellectual property rights are so intertwined that any changes will undoubtedly send up red flags up in various areas.
Government says in this instance it is trying to modernise the existing Copyright Act but as with any changes to established procedures that have existed for years, there are pros and cons that come with change it seems.
50 years after death
The draft Bill deals primarily with copyright of artistic, musical and literary work and most assume that works of great composers such Brahms, Beethoven and Schubert are free of copyright, those geniuses having long since passed away. In fact under the existing Act, the author, composer or artist has copyright for life and then fifty years
The draft states both clearly and unambiguously that the ownership of all copyright held by individuals will automatically transfer to the state upon their death.
Until death do us part….
There is not the slightest indication of what body or entity is involved, other than the fact that the Bill is to be tabled by the Minister of Trade and Industry, meaning that DTI, or an entity controlled by it, would receive such, presumably the individual’s Estate being responsible for notifying DTI that they are heirs. The draft also states that government may never re-sell or pass on such copyrights.
The question to any casual observer is what happens to this money, at present collect by such bodies in doubtful manner by such bodies as SAMRO and passed to DTI? It is revenue and does it go to National Treasury, perhaps a fund for aged musicians, authors and artists even child education in the arts? On this the Bill is silent, no policy having been ever stated by any cabinet minister on such matters.
In the absence of any new guides as promised on intellectual property in general, such having been promised by DTI in the form of a National IP Policy many months ago, more concerning is the establishment of an Intellectual Property Tribunal which is a case of “overkill” in dealing with this limited area of copyright and royalties.
Such a body may adjudicate on “on any application and on any legislation brought before it”, the draft states.
On the whole, we have to assume that the majority of the draft Bill applies to individuals only, with the exception of the recording industry and literary reproduction industry, there also being certain clauses regarding End User Licence Agreements affecting software sales.
Of concern though to many is the growing tendency to introduce criminalisation into legislation such as areas of BEE with fines normally reserved for more serious and harmful criminal police offences. In this case DTI have once again mentioned maximum jail and penalties of totally disproportionate periods and amounts.
To many, this Bill appears to have a lot more written in between the lines and prompts again many questions as to the direction DTI is taking with regard to international agreements, in this case the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
It will be interesting to see what is finally tabled in Parliament for debate and what emerges from parliamentary public hearings