After four years of research and development, the South African Reproduction Rights Organisation (SARRO) has been formed to put businesses, organisations and industry on the right track from a copyright point of view and to promote access and sharing of copyrighted works actively, while ensuring that the publishers are remunerated for this use.
For years, South African companies and organisations have reportedly, unknowingly been infringing copyright in their daily course of business. The South African Copyright Act states that, under most business circumstances, to copy and share works from South African newspapers, magazines and online publications is an infringement of the publishers' rights.
The problem is that, for many businesses, copying and sharing these works is a normal and often essential part of their day-to-day operation and, up until now, there has been no clear and accessible way to do this while ensuring that the copyright owner has consented to their work being copied and is remunerated for it.
"Not only necessary, but long overdue"
SARRO is a registered non-profit company incorporated to be owned and controlled by the publishers and, since its launch, has sought discussions with all South African publishers, inviting them to participate in the organisation, providing a collective approach to a widespread problem.
"Copyright in most countries around the world is protected and managed by reproduction rights organisations," says Judy Prins, media and entertainment division lead at Deloitte. "The creation of a South African reproduction rights organisation is not only necessary, but long overdue."
It is said that the primary role of SARRO is to streamline the licensing process between publishers and organisations that wish to copy and share works from South African newspapers, magazines and online publications.
Businesses and organisations will be able to obtain an annual licence from SARRO allowing them to copy and share copyrighted works legally and freely. This will help foster a culture of copyright compliance and create an environment where publishers are properly remunerated for the use of their works, thereby contributing to a flourishing publishing industry.
Educate and increase awareness
The licensing process will allow users to copy and share works from thousands of publications, as an alternative to approaching each publisher individually for permission each time they wish to copy and share their works. SARRO collects the licence fees and distributes these back to the publishers.
Due to the general lack of understanding surrounding copyright, one of its essential mandates is to educate and increase awareness and compliance.
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