If you do not own a work protected by copyright, you definitely use copyright protected works. The amendment to the Copyright Act proposed by the Department of Trade and Industry therefore affects us all, and you can now comment on these proposed amendments, if you wish. There are various proposed amendments from definitions to additional rights and new offences. I will only provide a short summary of some of these proposed amendments. It is up to you to decide whether you believe that these amendments are for the better, or not.
Resale Royalty Right
The creators of artistic works will enjoy the newly introduced “resale royalty right”. It will be mandatory to pay the creators of artistic works a resale royalty of 5% of the commercial resale price of their work. This right will not be capable of being transferred to anyone else or being waived through agreement. If a royalty payment will not be made, this will be regarded as a criminal offence. The types of works that will enjoy this right will be, amongst others, paintings, sculptures, photographs and even works of architecture and craftsmanship. This may have a drastic affect on many industries, for example, will property prices have to increase to cover the 5% royalty payment to the architect?
The resale royalty right will also apply to the creators of the newly introduced “craft work”, which includes folk art and other hand-made works and toys. It will be challenging to establish who the creators of these works are.
If a copyright subsists in a work but the creator cannot be located or is unknown, the state will become the owner of this work. Only if the rightful copyright owner is located, will the copyright be conferred back. In addition, the amendment states that when the state is the owner of a copyright, such copyright cannot be assigned. As such, all orphan works that remain unclaimed will remain in the hands of the state. The resale royalty rights of any such works will therefore also vest with the state. In addition, it will be a criminal offence to contravene any provisions in relation to orphan works. The question to be asked is, is this necessary and for whose benefit are these provisions really.
Collecting societies will have to be registered to collect royalties for our musicians and performers. Each collecting society will distribute these royalties to the musicians and/or performers who are owed such royalties.
Anyone who will wish to play a sound recording or show a performance to the public will have to plan this in advance. Prior approval will have to be obtained from either the copyright owner or the collecting society, by way of a proposal including the terms and conditions for the payment of the royalty. If the proposal is rejected, the Intellectual Property Tribunal will adjudicate the matter. This requires very serious planning. I hope we are equipped for this.
Broadcasting local content
The amendment to the Act further proposes a “proudly South African” amendment. The broadcasting industry, and local programming and production in radio, will be under an obligation to develop the culture and support the growth of local content by broadcasting 80% local content in public channels and stations, and 60% in private channels and stations. Be ready to be dazzled by South Africa’s finest at least 60% of the time!
Assignment of copyright
When assigning/transferring a copyright, such agreement will only be valid for 25 years from the date of the agreement. This is a very interesting amendment, it makes one wonder what would be the reason for this proposed change.
The above is a small taste of the proposed amendment to our Copyright Act. As you can see these are very drastic proposed changes. They say change is good and that good things are worth the wait. We have been waiting for amendment and improvement of the Act for quite some time. It is up to you to decide if these changes are good and if the wait was worthwhile.
If you wish to see the full proposed bill, you can view it on the DM Kisch Inc. website (www.dmkisch.com).