Concern over copyright plan’s impact on academic work

The Department of Science and Technology has raised concern over a provision in the Copyright Amendment Act that would vest copyright in the state where the state funds the person or organisation creating the work, writes Linda Ensor for Business Day Live.

In a submission to Parliament’s trade and industry committee, the department said that this provision would have “serious implications for all our higher education institutions, science councils and any other publicly financed research institutions as they are all regarded as being publicly financed either through a parliamentary grant or through an allocation from national, provincial or municipal government”.

As research was conducted, it was recorded in a laboratory notebook which, as a work, was eligible for copyright. As copyright applied automatically, the copyright in the laboratory notebook would vest in the state. Adding to the problem was the provision providing that where copyright was owned, vested in or under the custody of the state, it could not be assigned to anyone else, the department noted during public hearings on the bill held by the committee. This would mean that the researcher would not be able to produce a publication from the laboratory notebook and would not be able to assign the copyright to a local or international publishing house.
Full report on the Business Day Live site