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Turns Out It’s Illegal To Reshare Memes, According To South African Copyright Laws

Turns out we are all lawbreakers.

South Africa's copyright Amendment Bill is due to be adopted by the National Council of the Provinces this Wednesday. The country has been operating on copyright legislation written in 1978 and updated in 2002, two years before Facebook was invented. So it goes without saying that the laws in place are seriously outdated and don't consider the Internet much, if at all.

According to IOL, Wikimedia ZA president Douglas Scott said the current law has contributed to the country falling behind on technology.


He was quoted by the news website as saying:

"Memes are not allowed under the Fair Dealing law. Also, the sharing of pictures of public monuments is most probably illegal, it's just that it has not been tested in court yet. Wikipedia doesn't accept photos of newly-built monuments because of the current act, only pictures of colonial-era monuments, such as the Rhodes statue, because its copyright license has expired."

The Internet is disrupting everything, and calls for new laws to be in place. But our authorities aren't moving fast enough, especially in these parts. For instance, the South African music industry still doesn't have a system in place to factor in stream numbers when calculating song and album sales the way RIAA does in the US. More about that here.

The Copyright Amendment Bill has attracted a lot of criticism mostly from creators—mostly musicians and authors. The bill aims to make information free for all, but at the expense of creators and publishers. The bill allows for unrestricted copying of content provided it's for educational purposes, and allows for creators to not be credited "if not practicable."

The bill has too many loopholes that will affect artists, creators and the publishing industry. It's been estimated that if the bill is passed as a law, which could happen this week, there will be a 33% decline in sales, leading to an approximate loss of R2.1 billion in revenue for the publishing industry. A steep price to pay for free information for all.

Interview
Photo: Schure Media Group/Roc Nation

Interview: Buju Banton Is a Lyrical Purveyor of African Truth

A candid conversation with the Jamaican icon about his new album, Upside Down 2020, his influence on afrobeats, and the new generation of dancehall.

Devout fans of reggae music have been longing for new musical offerings from Mark Anthony Myrie, widely-known as the iconic reggae superstar Buju Banton. A shining son of Jamaican soil, with humble beginnings as one of 15 siblings in the close-knit community of Salt Lane, Kingston, the 46-year-old musician is now a legend in his own right.

Buju Banton has 12 albums under his belt, one Grammy Award win for Best Reggae Album, numerous classic hits and a 30-year domination of the industry. His larger-than-life persona, however, is more than just the string of accolades that follow in the shadows of his career. It is his dutiful, authentic style of Caribbean storytelling that has captured the minds and hearts of those who have joined him on this long career ride.

The current socio-economic climate of uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrusted onto the world, coupled with the intensified fight against racism throughout the diaspora, have taken centre stage within the last few months. Indubitably, this makes Buju—and by extension, his new album—a timely and familiar voice of reason in a revolution that has called for creative evolution.

With his highly-anticipated album, Upside Down 2020, the stage is set for Gargamel. The title of this latest discography feels nothing short of serendipitous, and with tracks such as "Memories" featuring John Legend and the follow-up dancehall single "Blessed," it's clear that this latest body of work is a rare gem that speaks truth to vision and celebrates our polylithic African heritage in its rich fullness and complexities.

Having had an exclusive listen to some other tracks on the album back in April, our candid one-on-one conversation with Buju Banton journeys through his inspiration, collaboration and direction for Upside Down 2020, African cultural linkages and the next generational wave of dancehall and reggae.

This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.

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