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SAMPRA is taking the SABC to court for failing to pay the R250mill+ they owe in needletime royalties

In an on-going moral and legal battle, the South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA) is continuing to fight for recording artists and record companies by instituting legal action against the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC). SAMPRA is applying to the courts to compel the SABC to pay for the use of their artists’ music.

Failure by the SABC to pay will inevitably lead to an interdict prohibiting the SABC from playing tracks from SAMPRAs’ repertoire – which is 99% of all tracks in South Africa.

During a financially crippling period, due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the SABC is directly endangering recording artists’ livelihoods and effectively ending careers by refusing to pay for Needletime rights, amounting to more than R250 million over more than five years.

The public broadcaster is not only flouting the law, but further continues to use SAMPRA members’ intellectual property without compensating them for their works. By blatantly exploiting the performing artists, the beleaguered corporation is directly infringing on the artists’ rights to generate an income from their music.

“It is more than 16 months since South Africa went into lockdown and the SABC is pouring salt into the wounds of recording artists. By maintaining their stance of not paying for Needletime rights, as well as negotiating in bad faith, the broadcaster is continuing in its trend of undermining SAMPRA’s members,” said SAMPRA CEO, Pfanani Lishivha.

“As SAMPRA, we represent more than 38 000 direct performer members, and almost 6 000 direct record company members. This amounts to 99% of all tracks performed in South Africa, and a large number of these are played on SABC radio stations. SAMPRA members’ intellectual property makes up more than 95% of the SABC’s playlist. Thousands of SAMPRA members are directly losing an income from the broadcaster, and this has resulted in dire consequences, such as members’ houses being repossessed, artists being unable to pay for their children’s school fees and not being able to pay for day-to-day expenses such as food, electricity and water,” added Lishivha.

As an organisation that administers Needletime Rights on behalf of recording artists, the work they do has a direct impact on the lives of artists. Artists such as the legendary jazz, funk and disco singer Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse and iconic house music producer, DJ Ganyani, are just some of the people that are paying with their livelihoods, each time the SABC does not remunerate them for using their intellectual property. Watch this space.