Blind SA vs Minister of Trade, Industry & Competition & Others – Copyright

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Constitutional Court declares copyright law provisions unconstitutional

The Constitutional Court of South Africa has declared the Copyright Act unconstitutional insofar as it restricts or prevents people with visual and sight disabilities from accessing copyrighted works, in a way accessible to non-disabled people.

In a petition brought by Blind SA, the Constitutional Court was asked to consider and grant a remedy that would allow people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise unable to read print, to access printed materials they otherwise could not access without infringing copyright. that remains in such materials.

All parties to the proceedings have agreed that there is a
gap in the copyright regime that results in print disabled people having insufficient access to copyrighted works and essentially aiming to achieve the same goal, but through different approaches.

In careful balancing, the Court finally read a temporary provision into the Act that will allow the making of accessible format copies of literary works in certain limited circumstances without the need to obtain the consent of the copyright owner. An accessible format copy means a copy of the work in another form or in another form that allows a person with a print disability to access the work, such as a Braille version or an audiobook.

Parliament has been given 24 months to remedy the unconstitutionality and all eyes will once again be on the controversial copyright bill.

Adams & Adams represented Professor Owen Dean as amicus curiae in this case.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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