Around the World: International Copyright Outlook

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Around the World

In this post, we’ll take a look at copyright developments in South Africa, Australia and Japan, along with a short update on the European Union as it relates to the Digital Single Market (DSM) copyright directive.

South Africa: Controversial Legislation Stalls in South Africa

It’s been more than 12 months since both houses of the South African Parliament passed the new copyright act. Even before it was passed, the draft legislation was highly controversial, attracting strong opinions from all sides of the copyright debate. However, more than a year later, the passed legislation still has not been signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This is an unusually long time to wait for a legislation’s ratification, and it is unclear why the President is hesitating. President Ramaphosa has made very few public comments about the new law, but he did go on the record at the end of 2019 to say that he had some concerns about it. As a result of the delay, the licensing practices that pre-existed the 2019 legislation in South Africa continue to be enforced. DALRO, the Reproduction Rights Organization (RRO) in South Africa, is operating business as usual, and the universities in South Africa — the community of particular interest to CCC and rightsholders — are required to continue taking licenses from them.

The president has a couple of options. He can refer the act to the constitutional court or he can send it back to parliament for further review. CCC will continue to monitor the situation carefully. 

Japan: Health Crisis Prompts Temporary Unremunerated Copyright Exception 

Japan’s most recent copyright act, passed in May 2018, introduced many new provisions. The introduction of a new exception to copyright affecting specific re-uses of digital copyrighted content in primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions is perhaps of greatest interest to publishers and authors in Japan and around the world. The new legislation stipulated that the new exception must be implemented within three years, by April 30, 2021.

SARTRAS, an organization set up by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan specifically to implement the new exception, has been working for nearly two years to plan and prepare for its implementation.

Several collective management organizations from different sectors must work within SARTRAS to decide how the new exception will be implemented. A change of this magnitude involves extensive consultation with the user community, meaning representatives from primary, secondary and tertiary schools throughout the country.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, SARTRAS was on track to meet the 2021 deadline. However, the public health crisis highlighted the importance of access to high-quality content in educational institutions, and, in response, the Japanese government introduced the exception immediately on an unremunerated basis for one year. This is a very fast-changing situation right now and something we’re monitoring very closely.

The plan today, as far as we know it, is for the remunerated exception to be introduced as scheduled on May 1, 2021, replacing the temporary unremunerated exception.

Australia: Two Sets of Negotiations Resolved and Two Under Discussion

Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), the RRO in Australia, has engaged in important negotiations with several different stakeholder groups for some time. Although having negotiations on multiple fronts has been intense for CAL, important progress has been made. Details include:

  • In January this year, the RRO announced that it had reached an agreement with the government of New South Wales about the rate they would pay for the use of copyrighted content by its public servants. The announcement confirmed that the parties had agreed not only to past liability back to 2012, but also payments going forward to June 2023.
  • Earlier, CAL had also announced that it had agreed to new terms for the next four years with the schools sector in Australia.
  • This leaves negotiations with the university sector and some media monitoring companies still underway. The discussions with the university sector are very important, not just for Copyright Agency and local stakeholders, but also for CCC and its rightsholders.

It’s unclear how long it will take to finally resolve the key issues, but we stay in close touch with our counterparts in Sydney and will keep rightsholders informed as we learn more. There’s a great deal at stake in terms of the final deal that is struck between CAL and the university community in Australia as a whole. The conversation between some of the largest media monitoring organizations and CAL is also continuing.

European Union: DSM Copyright Directive Provisions Rolling Out Across Member States

Member states of the European Union (EU) are working on their plans to implement the provisions of the DSM copyright directive into their national law. Each of the member states of the EU has two years to implement the provisions, at their own pace.

France, for example, has implemented some of the provisions already. Since the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the EU following the Brexit decision, the UK government has recently gone on record to say that it will not implement any of the provisions of the directive at this time.

Michael Healy

Author: Michael Healy

Michael Healy is the Executive Director, International Relations, at CCC. Previously he served as Executive Director of The Book Rights Registry and Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group. Michael has worked in the book industry over than 25 years and has been closely involved in the development of standards for international book trade, metadata, product information and e-commerce.

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