South Africa: Sadtu Statement On the Passing of the Copyright Amendment Bill By the National Assembly

press release

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) welcomes the passing of the Copyright Amendment Bill by the National Assembly. The Bill will now be referred to the President for his approval.

SADTU seeks to be a positive and proactive force that contributes towards ensuring broad access to knowledge and the creation of an education system that can eliminate the main features of the apartheid education system and improve the lives of South Africans. However, this is extremely difficult to do when outdated and restrictive copyright laws create obstacles daily for teachers and learners, and prevent schools, media, and public libraries from exercising their statutory rights to provide access, resources, and services to complement and supplement teaching programmes in schools.

Subjects such as robotics, artificial intelligence, digital games, new languages, etc. are already being introduced in many of our schools, yet the copyright law remains a barrier. For these programmes to be successful and rolled out to all schools, it is imperative that the Copyright Amendment Bill be signed without further delay.

The current copyright law deprived our people of access to information and appropriate teaching materials, an acceptable standard of literacy and education, or any at all. In addition, the apartheid copyright law exacerbated the situation then, and continues to restrict or prohibit access to information and teaching and learning materials today. This goes against the spirit of our liberation struggle, and the ongoing struggles in the educational and research sectors. The stark reality of these atrocities should be a glaring reminder to Parliament and the President, that access to information and education is enshrined in our Constitution, and that the amendment of discriminatory legislation such as the Copyright Act is long overdue, and that the signing of the Copyright Amendment Bill into law is extremely urgent.

Our fight for access to free and inclusive quality education for all South Africans is sacrosanct. And we know that by standing together we are building a future that does not leave people behind irrespective of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith, cultural or economic background, or personal characteristics. People with disabilities should also be assisted to achieve their maximum potential. Inclusive education means that all learners should be educated together, to the same high standards, in so far as possible in the same education institutions.

It is also for this reason that we support the Copyright Amendment Bill. We strongly believe that it will go a long way towards lessening the glaring inequality gap that continues to define our education system in the era of the 4th industrial revolution. We are insistent on an intellectual property regime that is structured for developmental purposes instead of profit maximization. It remains our responsibility to drive the transformation agenda in our country utilising education as the main catalytic agent.

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