Local artists discuss earning royalties through digital platform |29 November 2022
• Literary and visual arts consider setting up own collective management organisation
Local artists have learned more about protecting their art work through copyrighting as well as ensuring they earn royalties due to them from digital platforms worldwide.
This was through a one-day workshop yesterday at the International Conference Centre organised by the Seychelles Authors and Composers Society (SACS) in collaboration with the Seychelles National Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts.
The workshop was targeting all SACS members, artists from visual and literary works as well as students of the Seychelles Institute of Arts and Design (SIAD).
Speaking at the official opening, SACS’ chairperson David Andre, who is also the secretary general for the Seychelles National Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts, said now more than ever it was important for artists to understand that their work are valuable and with the speedy evolution of digital platform, they should ensure they are protected and remunerated.
“We do not want our artists to find themselves in a predicament where others take advantage of their work without their knowledge and make money out of it, or they sell their rights to everyone. Today it is easy for somebody to dupe them by telling they are posting their work online, and later earn millions out of it because they have sold all their right to that person without them realising it,” he said.
The workshop followed a similar one attended by two of SACS’ representatives, Cindy Botsoie and treasurer Galen Bresson in Harare, Zimbabwe, where they met two South African experts, namely, the chief executive of CAPASSO, Jotam Matariro and the managing director of DALRO, Lazarus Serobe, who facilitated yesterday’s session.
Mr Bresson said it was important to bring the experts to Seychelles to guide them on how to better police the work of their 300 members. SACS already has a reciprocal agreement with CAPASSO where the latter collects royalties for local artists on digital platforms like YouTube and Itune.
He said although CAPASSO was looking at SACS’ interest, there were weaknesses that needed to be addressed. One was to educate members about a unique International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) to ensure they are registered and remunerated internationally.
“We have noticed that a lot of our members have been uploading songs without having registered these songs to SACS, meaning even if we have a reciprocal agreement with CAPASSO, at present we cannot collect on their behalf. They need to know there is a way of doing things to ensure they are remunerated by CAPASSO through the agreement it has with us,” said Mr Bresson.
CAPASSO licences music used on radio TV, cinema, advertising, films, corporate video production, multimedia and others , as well as has blanket licenses with broadcasters that overs the use of production music in normal TV programming, such as documentaries, dramas, magazine programmes and in-house promos. The company represents the largest catalogue of production music libraries in South Africa.
Its CEO, Mr Matariro, who is a lawyer by profession, said artists need to understand that putting music on digital platform, or on YouTube, does not get them paid.
He explained they are paid as a content creator by YouTube but not for the music unless the music is properly aggregated, which was detailed in his presentation.
He also talked to them about the importance of having an ISRC, which is a unique identifier that can be permanently encoded into a recording or music video.
“There are companies that help you put the music onto the digital platforms in the legal way. When you put that music then you have the references, an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC), and then any of your music is then linked to that code. Then anytime that music is played anywhere, the sound will link up to the code and to your original sound and then you get paid for that music,” explained Mr Matariro.
Yesterday’s meeting also addressed visual arts and literary work, where those practising these forms of art considered setting up their own collective management organization (CMO), similar to SACS, to ensure their work is also registered and remunerated.
Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), a multi-purpose collective management organisation (CMO) established in 1967, licenses works, facilitates and grants permission for copyright users to reproduce works, collects fees and remunerates copyright holders. It focuses on three areas of copyright – literary works, artistic works and published editions. Literary works include every form of writing, whereas artistic works cover paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings and photographs. Published editions refer to the typographical arrangement of a literary work or artistic work.
According to its managing director, Lazarus Serobe, the benefit of having a CMO is protection. He said that it is important for artists to understand that once they have created their work, they must know how to protect it and how to let other people get access to it without losing their control over the piece of art.
“People often get confused that once you have created a piece of art, you have sold it, then the person who has bought it, owns it in total. This is not true. The artists retain the copyright and still control what happens to that piece of work, whether it can be copied, re-copied,re-published, put in a magazine or a movie, newspaper or a book. We have seen this happening a lot on the continent without the artist being considered and remunerated,” explained Mr Serobe.
He said copyright was about finding the right balance between protecting the artist while giving access to the user, to make use of the art work with the artist’s permission.
Mr Serobe said although it was difficult to fully monitor copyright infringement globally with regard to visual arts and literary work on digital platform, there are however mechanism to trace them.
“When the piece is created then you need to input a marker, a fingerprint as it is often called, something that make it traceable,” he explained.
SACS’ treasurer, Galen Bresson, said the idea of having the CMO was strongly discussed and considered at the workshop.
He said that falling into that category they wanted to have a CMO but wanted to agree on a quickest way of going about it; whether to amend the SACS law to incorporate them into it or to have their own new separate CMO. SACS said this will be its next point of discussion.