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Sanef Celebrates the Inclusion of the “Fair Use” Principle in the Copyright Amendment Bill

16 November 2018

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a body that represents the editors and senior journalists of newspapers, online and broadcasting platforms in South Africa. We champion media freedom and the safety of journalists and we fight for media diversity and the highest standards of ethics and quality in the media.

SANEF celebrates the unanimous decision taken yesterday by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry to include the principle of “fair use” in the Copyright Amendment Bill.

The principle of “fair use” allows for the use of copyrighted material for a limited or “transformative” purpose such as to quote the latter or use pictures and video material in news reports, comment on, parody or criticise copyrighted work.

SANEF first made a submission to Parliament on the Bill in August 2017. We stated that the principle of “fair use” is the life blood of the news media. Further, we stated that “fair use” clauses also align copyright use with the freedom of expression and freedom of the media clauses in the Constitution and that the implementation of the principle in news and current affairs reporting supports and promotes the creative industries.

SANEF, however, noted with concern that there were a number of organisations that opposed the inclusion of this principle in South African law and that these organisations were based in countries such as the USA, which have “fair use” in their own laws. These organisations claimed that “fair use” is contrary to international law and that it will have a negative impact on trade and economic growth. However, SANEF noted that international research in fact suggests the opposite i.e. a positive correlation between adoption of “fair use” and innovation and investment in creative and technology industries.

We further noted the support for the inclusion of “fair use” in our legislation by a number of organisations concerned with access to affordable education, such as teachers’ unions and university libraries, as well as disability groups like Blind SA, and filmmakers, creatives and activists in ReCreateSA.

SANEF warmly commends the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for its work to update our legislation in line with international best practice, and a balanced approach to copyright. The next step is now for the National Assembly to adopt the Bill.

For more information please contact:

Izak Minnaar – SANEF Council member

082 412 8862

Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director

082 926 6404