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Constitutional Court judgment on copyright a victory for persons with visual and print disabilities

Neelam Rahim – neelam@radioislam.co.za

2 min read – 17:25

In what is being celebrated as a significant victory, the Constitutional Court has declared sections of the Copyright Act invalid, unconstitutional and inconsistent with the rights of persons with visual and print disabilities. The case was lodged in April last year by BlindSA and Secotion27. The country’s highest court gave Parliament 24 months to address the unconstitutional defects in the Act.

In a discussion with Radio Islam International, Section27’s Julia Chaskelson, a research and advocacy officer based in Johannesburg, said the litigation was launched because blind and visually impaired people in South Africa are denied access to books in formats they can read. This is primarily because of the copyright act of 1978.

She said parliament has been attempting to fix the copyright amendment bill for years. But the process is very contested and debated.

The case was launched last year at the High court, and a hearing was held at the constitutional court in May this year. The court found that the copyright was unconstitutional and the rights of people who are blind were being violated and provided a copyright exception.

For decades, this has formed a massive barrier to people’s educational advancement, their sense of dignity, and the right to equality.

The court has also ordered parliament to fix the copyright act within 24 months. There is also an immediate measure granted an exception to copyright for people who are blind.

Listen below to the interview with Moulana Muhammed Bham and Julia Chaskelson on Radio Islam’s podcast.

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