Zimbabwean law will put legislation, parliamentary gazette, etc, under state copyright

Joeblack69 says, "Our Justice Minister in Zimbabwe is currently steering a bill through Parliament that I believe requires scrutiny. The General Laws Amendment Bill, among other issues, seeks to amend the Copyright and Neighbouring Act by giving copyright protection to legislation, notices and other material in the Government Gazette, court judgments and certain public registers. Copyright in all these documents will vest in government. Government, as copyright holder."

Which means, fundamentally, that the law and the doings of government will become copyrighted, and not freely distributable to the governed. Versions of this are already law in many commonwealth countries, and it sucks here; Zimbabwe's version is even more extreme than the versions that we in the UK and Canada labour under.

Veritas, a local lawyers grouping, blasted the changes as inimical to democracy.

"The amendment proposed by clause 16 of the Bill will violate Section 20 of the Constitution, will be inimical to transparent government, human rights and the rule of law, and will be contrary to best practice in the southern African region," Veritas said.

"Amending the Copyright and Neighbouring Act has serious implications for the rights of citizens to freely access and distribute legislation, notices and other material in the Government Gazette, court judgments and certain public registers. It is important that such information should remain in the public domain." Section 10 of the current Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act does not subject certain public documents to copyright such as official texts or statutes; official texts of judicial proceedings and decisions (judgments); notices and material published in the Government Gazette and the contents of official registers.

General Laws Bill 'inimical to democracy' (Thanks, Joeblack69, via Submitterator!)


  1. “Zimbabwean law” is basically a nonsensical phrase.

    Zimbabwe is a kleptocratic dictatorship run by a megalomaniacal president-for-life. Honestly, how can anyone care that the laws in that nation are copyrighted when there are no property rights, no civil rights… no human rights of any kind.

    That nation ranks with Iraq and Somalia as one the places I’m least interested in visiting.

    1. Yep. “Zimbabwean law” is a pretty oxymoronic concept as of late. How can a failed state claim or enforce copyrights of any kind?

  2. Hey, why stop at copyrighting the law? You could trademark and patent it too. So say you get apprehended for a crime, so the first thing you need to do is to pay license cost for being the subject of the application of a system of apprehending and prosecuting people who commit socially unacceptable actions.

  3. You guys are overstating it. Zimbabwe is not in great shape, but it’s far from being a failed state. Westerners can visit it without being in any more danger than if they visited its neighbours. Compared to Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma it’s not doing that badly. There is at least a vestige of democratic government: Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, is now sharing power with Mugabe in his capacity as prime minister, and from Wikipedia:

    the IMF described the Zimbabwean economy as “completing its second year of buoyant economic growth after a decade of economic decline.”. Mentioning “strengthen policies” and “favorable shocks” as main reasons for the economic growth

    1. Morgan Tsvangirai isn’t sharing any power with Mugabe. Mugabe does whatever he wants, and Tsvangirai assents or they arrest the leading members of his party and beat them in jail. A cup of coffee costs a trillion dollars. Life expectancy has been cut in half under the Mugabe regime.

      1. If something costs a trillion dollars, but nobody has ever paid that for it, does it really cost that?

        Or is it essentially unavailable? Just before they stopped reporting their inflation numbers, the numbers had become essentially meaningless. They talked about million+ dollar loaves of bread, but also said there was *no* bread on the shelves. Which one is true?

        I know they’re a messed-up country, but the economic reporting on them is worse than Faux News.

      2. The Zimbabwean dollar was demonetised in 2009, and is essentially non existent. The US dollar is now used as a hard currency, something that has happened in other countries in the past. A cup of coffee is now a few dollars, still more expensive than in most parts of the world.

  4. The hell? This is fucked up. Especially the mention of other countries already doing it — but as a UK resident I’m fairly sure that all (even superseded or repealed) legislation is available from the HMSO website, and printed for a charge. That said, it is Crown copyright.

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