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In the midst of desperate attempts from affected parties to be heard, the Department of Trade & Industry has shown no willingness to properly engage with communities of artists, writers, publishers, musicians and educators on the Copyright Amendment Bill, which threatens their very livelihoods.
With the highly controversial Copyright Amendment Bill on the president’s desk, Mr Ramaphosa faces a critical decision that will have ramifications for content creators for decades to come.
After months of trying to secure a meaningful engagement, a long-awaited meeting with Minister of Trade & Industry Rob Davies turned out to be a cynical exercise in window-dressing.
The department adopted a “divide and conquer” strategy. Parties who were for and against the bill were separated, and a polarising debate was staged. This tactic was clearly devised to create the impression of consultation and to portray the creative sector as being divided on the issue.
This attempt to destabilise our sector and encourage division is not productive. It gives activists no chance to substantially address the issues with the minister. Rather, they are pitted against each other. The minister has not applied his mind to our concerns.
This charade allows the department to wash its hands of the affair, to shrug and to allow the passage of a woefully inadequate bill that threatens to rob content creators of their careers and deliver them into the hands of tech giants, who will reuse their content without paying fair compensation.
The fact that the minster continues to flout the process is alarming and raises concerns that our fears of a mock process are legitimate. The minister has a constitutional and legal duty to apply his mind to the concerns of all parties and he continues to fail to live up to this.
The fact that we are so close to an election raises questions regarding the minister’s motives and judgement. We reserve our rights.
We call on the president to step in to intervene in a responsible manner, where his minister has failed to do so. The lack of process and governance has become a blight on our whole society. Interventions must be made before it’s too late and short-sighted politicking leads to an exploitive, confusing, inadequate law that harms the people it claims to protect.
Mr President, we implore you. Don’t sign the Copyright Amendment Bill. Send it back to parliament for redrafting.
Issued by the Coalition for Effective Copyright