State seeks to assume your intellectual property rights on your death

SEPTEMBER 25, 2015

While the Copyright Amendment Bill of 2015 closed for public comment last week, it has since attracted criticism by some, who called it unconstitutional. Of concern is that the new legislation proposes to transfer the intellectual property rights of an artist to the State on his or her death.

Internationally accepted norms are that anyone who creates anything enjoys the full copyright of his work during life and for 50 years after death. In that current form, one's copyright is also transferrable to anyone chosen by the creator as part of inheritance - which means inheritors like spouses and children can draw a livelihood from the works after the original creator has passed on. 

However, the ammendments by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will see the State assuming the copyrights at the death of the creator.

Owen Dean, a professor of Intellectual Property Law at Stellenbosch University, told the SABC that he was against the Copyright Amendment Bill of 2015 in its current form.

"For some of the proposed changes, I think they're long overdue, but the way in which the bill has been drafted is abominable and it’s of very poor quality and it’s got some crazy content to it. So I'm very much against the bill in its current form," he said.

---additional reporting SABC.