Collecting Societies in South Africa: the Report

Written by Andrew Rens on September 4th, 2012

In March 2011 I alerted readers to the appointment of a commission to investigate collecting societies in South Africa. The commission’s report was released on 30 August 2012 and is available here*

At a glance the report covers a lot of territory.

  • The report suggests turning wireless access providers into collecting agents for collecting societies.
  • It chronicles the collapse of SARRAL a collecting society that was meant collect and distribute royalties for the “mechanical rights” (making of sound recordings) of composers of music. The commission recommends that the liquidators of SARRAL consider legal claims against the former auditors and directors of SARRAL.
  • 43%  of all music royalties collected in South Africa are paid directly to foreign collecting agencies, a further percentage are paid to local branches of foreign right sholders (e.g. EMI) .
  • For distribution of music royalties “transparency around the flow of funds between the various sources of income and the recording  companies, and the computations of income available for distribution to the artists is limited”.
  • Nine years after the introduction of needletime there has been no distribution of of money collected to  to artists.

There is much more in the Report, indeed there is enough to write a thesis, encompassing as it does broadcast and telecommunications regulation, corporate governance and the standards of King II, and new business models for music, and lets not forget copyright.

* This link is provided by the South African government information service. If you’ve  previously tried to download the report from the Department of Trade and Industry website you’ll have discovered an erroneous link. I’ve emailed the DTI but they haven’t responded.


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