11th December 2013 – Copyright Bill 2013 – Copyright law reforms in the pipeline.

On the 10th December 2013, the Honourable Minister responsible for the subject of copyright introduced the long waiting Copyright Bill 2013 at the National Assembly. Long waiting because the present Copyright Act dates back to 1997 and was amended only twice, in 1999 and 2000. The amendments brought to the Copyright Act in 1999 and 2000 were minor amendments.It is understood that the main objective of the Copyright Bill 2013 is to make our Copyright law compliant with the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonogram Treaty. The WIPO Copyright Treaty (“WCT”) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (“WPPT”) which are two treaties in the field of copyright and neighbouring rights were concluded at the WIPO Diplomatic Conference in Geneva on 20 December 1996.The other objectives of the Copyright Bill 2013 are the following:

  • to address the issues related to the internet and piracy;
  • to provide for the protection of performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organisations;
  • to provide for limitations and exceptions in specific circumstances in relation to work;
  • to review the role and functions of the Mauritius Society of Authors (MASA); and
  • to provide for quick remedies to authors, composers and other copyright holders in cases of infringement of rights.

The Copyright Bill 2013 creates the Rights Management Society (Society) which will replace the existing Mauritius Society of Authors. The Copyright Right Bill provides that the Society will be managed by a Board. The day-to-day management of the Society will under the responsibility of a Director and staff.

An interesting feature of the Copyright Bill 2013 is that an individual right holder or his agent may manage copyright and related rights in the work of the individual. Whilst the proposed new law allows for rights holders to do so, it is, however, advisable that they seek legal advice in areas such as the exploitation of their rights and assignment of rights to ensure that they are better protected.

As concluding remarks, given the impressive list of functions which the Society has under the proposed new law, it is hoped that the Society has the necessary expertise to properly discharge its functions in the interests of the rights holders.