The parliamentary portfolio committee on trade and industry is debating a bill to amend the 1978 Copyright Act. The bill, which originated with the Department of Trade and Industry, is intended to give legacy industries such as publishing and civil society institutions such as libraries at least some of the concession they have sought for years, sometimes decades. While the issues at stake are clearly of paramount national importance and not always easy to resolve, the resulting bill is a backward-looking amalgam of provisions poorly aligned with the National Development Plan. Indeed, it would seem to be in contradiction with a related policy recently released by the same department, the draft intellectual property policy of 2017, recently approved by the Cabinet and under finalisation, which calls for a "greater emphasis on innovation, improved productivity, an intensive pursuit of a knowledge economy and the better exploitation of comparative and competitive advantages". Much is m...

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