The Select Committee on Trade and International Relations has agreed to the accession on three treaties that concern copyright and performers’ protection. The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) came to request that the committee agree to the accession as the treaties will bring more economic rights and further benefits to copyright holders.
The concerned treaties are the Beijing Treaty on Audio-Visual Performances; World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Performances and Phonographs Treaty; and the WIPO Copyright Treaty. The dti informed the committee that provisions of the treaties will be applicable once the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill and the Copyrights Amendment Bill had been enacted.
“The positive outcome would be the stimulation of South African cultural and creative industries. Authors and performers would enjoy the right to benefit from exploitation of works on the internet,” the dti’s representative said.
She said accession to the treaties will achieve the balance in achieving the development agenda and socio-economic needs of authors and performers in the country.
The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Eddie Makue, said accession to the treaties and copyright legislation was crucial because artists, performers and writers have been disadvantage for a long time. “If the committee processes these, they (the performers) will have better protection. South African law gave copyright to the person who commissioned the work,” he said, and cited the legendary 1976 photo by Sam Nzima.
Committee member, Mr Vusi Magwebu, sought clarity on whether the intended beneficiaries of these treaties had been workshopped. “These treaties encapsulate a whole range of economic rights to performers and so forth. Their rights must be realised, what is the dti doing to raise awareness among the beneficiaries of these rights?” Mr Magwebu asked. “It will be useless to have these treaties if the beneficiaries are not aware of what their rights are and how they should benefit from these treaties.”
He sought clarity on whether there was a timeline for the finalisation of the pending pieces of legislation on copyright and performers. “These treaties could come into effect only when the domestic legislation has been passed,” he pointed out.
Mr Makue said he was concerned about unfair contractual agreements that authors are subjected to, and asked if the dti was able to advise and refer such matters. “It is critical that you advise so that people know how to deal with the challenges they are confronted with.”
The dti responded and said timelines were subject to the Bills being passed into law. The dti representative said legislation is in the process of being finalised despite another view that says the Bills should not be rushed. The dti will undertake a massive implementation drive once the Bills are passed. “Authors are not asking for handouts but are saying make it possible for us to do things for ourselves.”
By Sibongile Maputi
26 March 2018