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Sharing YouTube & Facebook videos in Zim? You could be breaking the law

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Just so we are clear, that headline isn’t meant to scare anyone who’s busy sharing the latest P.O BOX, ZviriKufaya or Zimdancehall video. It’s a legally sound fact that fortunately for all of us isn’t taken seriously.

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We can call the law a lot of things; blind, fair, cold or just but when it comes to regulation for anything to do with technology one word that definitely trumps them all is SLOW.

Take Zimbabwe’s Broadcasting Act and its supporting regulatory instruments for example. This piece of legislation has provisions that identify the sharing of any video or digital content that originates from a computer(or related device) in Zimbabwe with two or more people that access it in Zimbabwe through any capable receiver (something that every internet ready phone is primed for) as some form of broadcasting which then requires regulatory approval.

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This made sense ages ago before any of us had dreamt of platforms like Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp that make all of this a reality for anyone on a mobile network. Now, in 2015, this legislation doesn’t make any sense at all, what with the changes in access and distribution channels and platforms that have been made content so readily available.

It doesn’t end there though. This ambiguity extends to aspects like live streaming, owning a licence for hardware that can allow you to broadcast live content (ie every phone that can get you onto a YouTube live stream link) and even fines for contravening the Broadcasting Act itself.

It even has uncomfortable implications for Import legislation that still struggles to classify certain digital media hardware, something that film producers have been dealing with every time they want to bring in new equipment.

Some of these challenges were discussed at the Digital Future Conference by a panel that comprised of Edith Utete, a legal practitioner and former legal counsel for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, Denny Marandure, the CEO of ZOL Zimbabwe; and Gelfand Kausiyo, the man leading Zimbabwe’s digital migration project.

You can listen to some of the opinions shared regarding these challenges to digital regulatory frameworks in the podcast below.

What do you think needs to be done to have legislation that has a grasp of the dynamism of technology?


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One thought on “Sharing YouTube & Facebook videos in Zim? You could be breaking the law

  1. It is not only the Broadcasting Act that is out of date but almost every Act that is affected by technology. How will Zimra collect duty one books bought online? The CIO guy thought he had prevented the taking of pictures at Harare Airport by confiscating cameras! The government itself does not obey its own laws and there is even selective application of the archaic laws. So I urge all tech savvy Zimbabweans to carry on what they are doing i.e. Buying goods online, “broad pasting videos etc.

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