South Africa: 'Fair Use' in New Copyright Bill Benefits Everyone

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South Africa's Copyright Amendment Bill is on President Cyril Ramaphosa's desk awaiting his signature. It aims to benefit both creators and the public, but has come under attack from some in the publishing and broadcast industries.

Much of the debate over the Copyright Amendment Bill concerns so-called "fair use". Fair use systems, such as those used in the US and other countries, allow copying or reproduction of short quotations from books or video clips from the news, as long as that reproduction is fair.

Some guidelines on how to judge fairness are set in law, but some things are left to the courts to interpret. Critically, in the US, and under the Bill on the President's desk, the financial impact on the copyright holder must be considered when judging fairness - which means under fair use systems piracy remains an infringement of copyright, just as it is now.

Opponents of South Africa's mooted new law claim fair use provisions in Section 12 of the Bill are excessive and far exceed those of the US. They say this will become the only country in the world with such extensive rights for users. They warn - in ongoing media campaigns and at...

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