Thursday 1 August 2019

Afro Chic

Expectations ahead of 'On a Knife's Edge'

The upcoming seminar, “On a Knife’s Edge: South African Copyright Law,” will be taking place on the 2nd of August 2019. The seminar is being convened by Adams and Adams. It ventilates the views of 11 stakeholder organisations and will consist of 3 panels each with an expert moderator. Each of these organisations and moderators has a specific role to play in the upcoming discussions as each represent their own user base with unique needs and convictions. A 300 strong audience is expected to attend, and many additional stakeholders, critics as well as proponents of the potential legislation have signed up to be present, according to Adams & Adams.

The various stakeholders disagree on many aspects, sometimes very fiercely. However, they all appear to agree that South Africa’s copyright legislation is outdated and in need of modernising. There has been passionate debate throughout the copyright reform process that started in the late 1990s, and has culminated, although not directly, to a Copyright Amendment Bill that is in the final stages of being approved. This final approval may or may not take place. Despite the somewhat provocative title however, the seminar seeks not to rehash the various debates around the Bill but to analyse what steps stakeholders might need to be taking, depending on the outcome of the approval process.

The Convenor:
Adams and Adams is an African Law Firm specialising in commercial services and intellectual property. It is internationally recognised and a leading organisation in its spheres. It represents a vast number of clients, many of whom have differing and even diametrically opposed viewpoints on the proposed legislation.

The Stakeholders:
The Coalition for Effective Copyright is constituted of stakeholders from the music, publishing and other creative sectors coming together in opposition of the Copyright Amendment Bill.

The Visual Arts Network of South Africa serves to develop industry networks, projects and knowledge that have as their focus the realisation of new possibilities for the practice of contemporary art the in South African and African context.

The Music Publisher’s Association of South Africa represents music publishers throughout the country. It serves to protect and promote the interests of music writers and publishers and to represent those interests to the music industry, government, the media as well as the public.

The Writer’s Guild of South Africa protects, develops and empowers performance writers in local industries including television, radio and new media.

PEN Afrikaans is a component of PEN South Africa, part of PEN international which works in over 100 countries. It is a non-partisan organisation of writers seeking to promote development of literature and freedom of expression.

Animation South Africa is a non-profit organisation with a mandate in the sector to “develop, promote and represent South African animation and VFX.”

Juta is an academic and law publisher in both print and electronic format/ It serves to meet legal and regulatory needs as well as the requirements associated with quality learning resources.

The Publisher’s Association of South Africa (PASA) advocates for both the rights and responsibilities of the independent publishing sector, coordinates representation of the industry, considers law and policy and how it might be applicable to publishers, makes submissions to and negotiates with Government and other entities in relation to independent publishers in South Africa and performs a myriad of other functions.

The Independent Black Filmmaker’s Collective is a “business to business network” representing “filmmakers, content creators, film and television/commercials directors, producers, marketers, facilities and services industrialists and entrepreneurs”

The Recording Industry of South Africa (RISA), is a trade association that represents producers of music and sound recordings and their collective interests.

The Academic and Non-Fiction Authors Association of South Africa (ANFASA) serves to promote the interests of non-fiction and academic authors. It is dedicated to “promoting their works and their status in society, sharing information and offering advice.”

Afro-IP is of course Africa’s largest searchable intellectual property database with over 2000 posts in the last decade providing news, information and comment on IP law, practice and business deals right across the continent. It attracts over 30 000 page views per month and has an aggregate subscriber base of around 2000 people across its various platforms.

The Moderators and High Profile Panellist:
Stephen Hollis is a partner at Adams & Adams, and he specializes in advising on copyright and other intellectual property matters.  Stephen is a Fellow of the Institute of Intellectual Property Lawyers (SAIIPL) and he presented to Parliament as part of SAIIPL’s delegation from its Copyright Committee on the legal risks posed by the Copyright Amendment Bill during the August 2017 Parliamentary hearings.  Since then, has remained at the coal face of engagements between industry stakeholders and investors, creatives and government in ongoing efforts to raise more awareness on the legal and commercial risks posed by the Copyright Amendment Bill, if enacted as presently worded. He will be moderating a panel on legal perspectives concerning copyright.

Collen Dlamini is the Executive Manager: Business Development at Future Managers and represents the Coalition for Effective Copyright in South Africa. He will be moderating a panel on the industry perspectives concerning copyright.

Marianne Grant is a Principal at Gray Global Advisors and formerly the Motion Picture Association’s (MPA) Representative in the UK, Ireland and South Africa - holding responsibility for Government Affairs in those assigned countries as well as for major content protection, consumer education, and public policy initiatives. She will be moderating a panel on international perspectives in copyright.

André Myburgh is a specialist legal consultant in international copyright law and policy with attorneys Lenz Caemmerer in Basel, Switzerland. He is a South African national and qualified as a South African attorney and trademark practitioner, having done his articles at Spoor & Fisher.  He has been a copyright law consultant to the publishing industry, both locally and internationally, and has advised on numerous copyright consultations around the world, the most recent being in New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Australia and Nigeria. He is a panellist in the discussions,

We asked stakeholders and moderators to discuss their expectations of the seminar. Below are some examples of their responses:
“I expect we'll go through the Bill in broad strokes in terms of its inconsistencies, incompatibility with the Constitution and the various treaties to which South African is a signatory”- Animation SA
“Hopefully we'll go through how each provision of the Bill will impact the affected sectors differently (almost always adversely).”- Animation SA
“With luck we will move on from the mudslinging that has occurred in the media and get a balanced view from both critics and proponents for the Bill” - anonymous
“I hope to receive further information on the status of the Bill, which is awaiting the President’s signature”- ANFASA
“That the President will decide, very soon, to reject the current proposals. That he will, instead, direct a properly qualified team to draft frameworks that meet those key objectives, pass muster against South Africa’s own precious Constitution as well as internationally – and that  can be implemented safely after validation through sector-specific impact assessments”- Gray Global Advisers
“The modernisation of copyright laws in South Africa has highlighted copyright's role in developing economies, with potential lessons and learnings for Africa generally. I am hoping that the discourse will be thought provoking, rich, and diverse”- anonymous
“The focus of the upcoming seminar is to raise awareness not only on some of the critical defects and legal and commercial risks posed by the Copyright Amendment Bill, but also to shine the light on opportunities arising from the copyright reform process and the amazing potential that SA has to position itself as the preferred destination for content production and for our creatives to have more employment opportunities and enhanced income”- Adams and Adams

It is our hope that this diverse range of participants will aid in the provision of vibrant and robust debate surrounding copyright law in South Africa. Does the Copyright Amendment Bill really put various sectors in precarious positions? Are they really on a knife's edge? We’ll see tomorrow.

This post brought to you by Afro Chic.

Image Credit: Kane Reinholdtsen

Afro Chic

Afro Chic

Subscribe via email (you'll be added to our Google Group)