COSATU welcomes the National Council of Provinces’ adoption of the Copyright Amendment and Performers Protection Bills

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the National Council of Provinces’ adoption of the Copyright Amendment and Performers Protection Bills today.  They will now be referred to the National Assembly for concurrence and final passage.

COSATU supports the Copyright Amendment Bill as a necessary modernisation of our existing and woefully outdated copyright legislation.  The Copyright Act was adopted in 1978, 2 years after television made its debut in South Africa and long before streaming and other technological advances arrived, making its overhaul long overdue. 

It provides the necessary balance and compromise between recognising and protecting copyright, which is key to attracting investments on the one hand, and on the other hand, to support the state’s developmental objectives of ensuring access to educational and other key materials for learners, students and persons with visual disabilities.  Critically it also provides key provisions to help protect the rights of musicians and other cultural workers to the royalties from their creative works.

The Federation supports the Performers Protection Bill as a progressive intervention to lay a legislative foundation to ensure actors and other performers enjoy the labour rights and protections afforded to them by the Constitution.  Whilst South Africa’s labour laws are lauded for their progressive provisions, actors and other performers are routinely denied these protections, rights and benefits.  This is partly because of gaps and weaknesses in these labour laws and the labour market institutions established to enforce them.  It is also due to production companies and other employers believing that treating actors and other performers little better than glorified slaves is a sound economic model.  The Performers Protection Bill provides a basis for a new legal regime recognising actors and performers as workers and affording them their due protections. 

We have witnessed time and again renowned musicians condemned to a life and retirement in absolute squalor.  Countless actors have been forced to choose between undertaking medical treatment for life threatening ailments or going to work for short-term jobs.  We have seen actors tragically injured and even dying on site yet not being covered by the Compensation of Occupational Injury and Diseases Fund. 

Despite the massive amount of relief of R64 billion released from the Unemployment Insurance Fund during the Covid-19 lockdown to more than 5.7 million workers; actors and musicians were not able to receive any given their lack of formal employment and fixed monthly salaries.

Whilst these Bills will not resolve all of these challenges faced by these workers, they will lay a positive transformational foundation to begin addressing them.  Engagements on the necessary further amendments to our labour laws are taking place at Nedlac to address these multiple challenges.

COSATU appreciates the extensive engagements and compromises that Parliament has undertaken on these two critical bills over the past 7 years.  We believe that these have helped ensure the necessary compromises and safeguards have been put in place.  We are confident that the Bills will pass constitutional muster. 

What we cannot afford to do is to continue to allow musicians to die in poverty or actors to be treated like indentured labour any longer.

Issued by COSATU

For further comment please contact:

Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687