Blind SA takes Ramaphosa to court over Copyright Amendment Bill

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. AFP/File/Phill Magakoe

The organisation would like to facilitate the translation of reading material, including textbooks, into braille and other formats that cater to the nation’s visually impaired population. 

Blind SA is taking President Cyril Ramaphosa to court alleging that his failure to act timeously on the matter of Copyright Law has disadvantaged millions of visually compared South Africans.

Sunday Times reports that the organisation has asked the highest court in the land to compel the president to sign the Copyright Amendment Bill which was passed by parliament in March 2019.

According to the organisation, the president’s failure to do his part in allowing the act, which was last amended in 1978, to be updated is preventing the translation of reading material, including textbooks, into braille and other formats that cater to the nation’s visually impaired population.

This is because section 6(a) of the Act grants an exclusive right to authors or their assignees in “reproducing the [literary] work in any manner or form.”

Blind SA would also like the court to compel the minister of international relations to make changes to the Marrakesh Treaty to allow for access to published works created by visually impaired persons.

The organisation told Sunday Times that not signing this law prevents the visually impaired from exercising their constitutional rights to equality and human dignity.

However, there is an organisation opposing the passing of the bill and they even went as far as petitioning Ramaphosa not to sign.

Copyright Coalition of SA in arguing against the bill in favour of stakeholders in the film, television, music and recording, arts industries, arguing that billions would be lost in the economy if the bill came into effect.

Ramaphosa’s office is reportedly still studying the court papers provided by Blind SA.

(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)

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