Businesses such as pubs, mobile DJs, clubs, restaurants, and shopping malls that are not complying with protected rights will face action from the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro).
Compliance with laws governing the use of protected music rights in South Africa needs to improve, says Mark Rosin, Samro chief executive.
Samro is responsible for collecting royalty fees and distributing them to nearly 20,000 authors, composers, and publishers who rely - to some degree - on royalties for their livelihoods.
Rosin says pubs, mobile DJs, clubs, restaurants, shopping malls, and other such businesses must obtain the requisite licence to play copyrighted music for public consumption.
He says there is a tendency by business owners in South Africa to view such transgressions as minor with little to no consequences for breaches.
“Samro is going to take steps against businesses that are found to be non-compliant,” warns Rosin.
Purchasing a music usage licence from Samro permits users to play music publicly at their businesses or venues.
Rosin says the licence fees collected by Samro are passed on to the creators that composed the music as royalty income.
He says playing music that attracts royalties in a public setting without meeting the required licensing agreements is unauthorised use. It’s a tough term to use, but this could be interpreted as theft.
Details of the music rights law are laid out in the Copyright Act.
“We don’t make the rules," says Rosin.
"If you play any music to a public audience that isn’t written, created, performed, published, and recorded by you, then it belongs to the music creator and you need a licence. People don’t mind paying for stock and music has to be seen as part of the ‘stock’ of a business that uses it”
Rosin says apart from this being a law that businesses must observe, the music industry depends on adherence to these rules.
“By supporting music creators, you are helping to create a healthy music industry, ensuring that people who create music reap the benefits of creating a song that you played at your establishment,” explains Rosin.
“During the financial year ended June 2020, amounts available for distribution collected by Samro amounted to R400m,” says Rosin.
“These figures clearly demonstrate that we are making progress in maximizing value for our members, however, we would like to see other businesses contribute their fair share,” says Rosin.