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SABC taken to court over music royalties

SA’s artists work with little protection and support, despite the important work they do. So it’s devastating to hear the SABC has been accused of hoarding millions in royalties meant for musicians. SAMPRA (South African Music Performance Rights Association), the body responsible for collecting royalties on behalf of artists, announced last week that it would be hauling the public broadcaster to court.💸

 The larger issue here, though, is that legislation fails to protect artists’ rights and earnings – especially when it comes to royalties. This leaves many vulnerable to record labels who tie them to exploitative contracts. But it’s not just record labels that musicians should watch out for: according to SAMPRA, the SABC owes musicians a collective R250 million in outstanding royalty payouts. The SABC denies the allegations and says the real issue here is a dispute between itself and the music industry’s collection bodies. Whatever the case, industry bodies and the SABC have to sit around the table and find a solution that will enrich the lives of the country’s musicians. Hopefully, with the intervention of the courts, musicians who have long been without an income due to the pandemic will get a vital cash injection. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 29 July 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.