Creative industry wants to meet Ramaphosa over fair use laws

Nando’s brings the heat to the second annual Basadi in Music Awards. Music legend Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Photo Supplied

Nando’s brings the heat to the second annual Basadi in Music Awards. Music legend Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Photo Supplied

Published Apr 8, 2024


The South African Creative Practitioners in Unity (Sacpu) has requested an urgent meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss some of the concerns presented by the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers Protection Amendment Bill.

For more than 10 years, the country’s creative industry has been up in arms over a proposed Copyright Amendment Bill which the industry said seems to misunderstand the needs of South Africa's creative industries.

Last year, late Mbongeni Ngema likened the bills to colonialism when speaking against it in Parliament as a representative of the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation.

On Monday, Sacpu said the government continues to fail the sector even though the sector could be an answer to the country’s unemployment crisis.

“While the cultural and the creative industries have long been identified as critical drivers in economic development, policy interventions and support have not been effectively co-ordinated, sufficiently funded and consistently implemented.

“While we acknowledge and appreciate the amendment to these two pieces of legislation, the Copyright Amendment Act and the Performers Protection Act, the industry has been plunged into a perpetual state of uncertainty as we have been robustly engaging in various forms of advocacy, in rejection of the ‘fair use’ clause that is pervasive in the former. We also have been vocal about the need for the harmonisation of the two bills,” Sacpu said.

In an open letter to the president, music industry activist, Yvonne Chaka Chaka slammed the two bills, saying the issue of fair use was exploitative to South African creatives.

“Their vote (MPs) is a drastic decision that will set this country back many years. The two bills they passed, will, in my view, put them, individually and collectively, in direct conflict with the Constitution, which all of them took an oath to protect,“ said Chaka Chaka in her letter.

Formulated in 2016, the bill is meant to protect creators of copyright works. In 2022, it was passed by 210 votes in Parliament with only 45 MPs voting against it.

In the creative sector, the bill has drawn sharp criticism due to the issues of “fair use” which matches with the laws seen in countries such as the US, UK and Singapore, while others find it has the right intentions with several flaws.

Sacpu president, Balungile Sokhulu, said the new bills have resulted in the industry being divided about the two legislations.

Sokhulu said the industry is prepared to meet the government to discuss its issues with the two bills further.

“We have huge turbulence and unrest within our industry that has been caused by the government officials.

“The government of South Africa has failed to address the issues of the industry, and instead exacerbates them.

“We, as the industry, shall not be trifled with anymore. The industry is giving you, the president of the Republic of South Africa 48 hours to respond in writing with the date of meeting, not with anyone, but with you president in your capacity as the president of the Republic of South Africa.

“Failure to respond will result in the matter being handed over to our legal representatives to deal with matters in a legalistic manner on an urgent basis now that we have realised that we have been played and lied about the meeting of April 1,” said Sokhulu.