In an earlier article posted on this blog, the Copyright Amendment Bill published in Government Gazette no. 39028, dated 27 July, 2915, was described as a curate’s egg, i.e something that is fundamentally bad but in principle has some good aspects. The view was expressed that the Bill could not be cured by piecemeal amendments, and that it was necessary to go back to the beginning, decide rationally what is actually wanted and warranted, and then re-draft it afresh. We stand by and reiterate this view.
Nevertheless, in the interests of ultimately having a workable and reasonable piece of legislation that does not mortally wound the Copyright Act, we have responded to the invitation expressed in the Government Gazette and have prepared detailed comments which can be downloaded here. In our comments, which take up some one hundred pages, we have attempted to unscramble the curate’s egg; we have sought to identify the bad parts of the egg and to highlight the good that we have been able to find. The latter should form the basis of the redrafting exercise that we have propounded. Separating the good part of an egg from the bad part is in principle unattainable, but we have done the best that we can.
It is hoped that the DTI will take these and the doubtless plethora of other critical comments on the Bill seriously and react responsibly and positively to them. They must not simply go through the motions of “consultation” with a view to saying that they have discharged their constitutional obligation in this respect. The degree to which the Bill is amended, or the fact that it is scrapped, will bear testimony to this question, and will be the acid test.