Open By-laws South Africa is a project to help South Africans be more informed about the legislation that governs them.
By-laws are local laws created by the municipality you live in. They determine many aspects of your day-to-day life in South Africa, such as how your municipality can charge your for water, what you can do in your local parks, and how many pets you can own.
It's often hard to find your municipal by-laws. They can be in difficult to read PDF files, or may not reflect recent changes. Open By-laws South Africa is changing that.
Who runs Open By-laws South Africa?
In 2013, Open By-laws received a Shuttleworth Flash Grant and an AMI Sandbox Fund grant, and we're grateful to these funders who helped us in our infancy.
What is "Open"?
The Open Knowledge Foundation describes "Open" as:
Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.
We believe all our legislation should be freely available and easy to read and share. We aim to make all of South Africa's by-laws available in open formats that encourage readibility and re-use.
To this end, the by-laws that we make available are:
- easy to link to, including directly to parts, chapters and sections
- easy to read as HTML webpages
- available as machine-friendly XML in the open Akoma Ntoso format
- freely available from our Indigo API
- licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
According to the license, you are free to share and reuse the by-laws, even for commercial purposes, provided that you mention that you got them from openbylaws.org.za.
What is Akoma Ntoso?
Akoma Ntoso is a machine-readable XML format for representing parliamentary, legislative and judiciary documents. It means "linked hearts" in the Akan language of West Africa. We chose to use Akoma Ntoso as our machine format for by-laws because:
- it allowed us to capture the semantics of the by-laws
- it is an open format under active development
- it has been adopted by a number of parliaments across Africa and the European Union.
Are the by-laws copyrighted?The original by-laws are not copyrighted. Section 12(8)(a) of the Copyright Act 98 of 1978 states:
12(8)(a) No copyright shall subsist in official texts of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or in official translations of such texts, or in speeches of a political nature or in speeches delivered in the course of legal proceedings, or in news of the day that are mere items of press information.In addition, the presentation of the by-laws on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License which means that you can basically do anything you want with them provided you provide attribution back to openbylaws.org.za for the original content.
An enormous thanks to our contributors and editors:
Ally Adendorf, Andrew Collier, Christopher Gevers, Cliff Featherstone, Greg Kempe, Juan Barrios, Matt Adendorf, Nqobile Sibisi, Pivendren Naik, Richard Gevers, Tricia Govindasamy.
We aren't lawyers. We don't write these laws, we're just making them available and there may be mistakes. Always get a professional legal opinion.
- Photo of Cape Town by mattharvey1 on flickr
- Photo of eThekwini by south-african-tourism on flickr
- Photo of Johannesburg skyline by nico_roets on flickr