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Needletime Rights


Intellectual property law and its applications are frequently misunderstood, plagued by the notion that ‘big business’ is trying to bar access in an age where freedom of access to information is paramount. But the truth of the matter is that the fundamental goal of intellectual property is to encourage the creation of new material, by providing authors, composers, recording artists and the like with an incentive to create, usually in the form of royalties, and by balancing the interests of various stakeholders.

The importance of intellectual property cannot be understated in a country such as South Africa, where the development of the cultural industries is so closely entwined with the success of our social and economic development. One particular industry identified by government is that of the music industry, which has a vital role to play in nation building. As was highlighted by the Music Industry Task Team (MITT), key to the success of the local music industry is the implementation of legislation that protects musicians and other industry stakeholders, in part by ensuring they are adequately rewarded for their work.

The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), an organisation dedicated to protecting the intellectual property rights of the country’s composers and authors, is an accredited Needletime Rights collecting society. Needletime, also known as ‘pay per play’, supplements the existing Performing Rights royalties by providing for recording artists and their record companies to be paid for each public performance of a recorded work. Where Performing Rights ensure that a creator of a musical work is remunerated for the public performance of their work, Needletime Rights require entities such as radio stations, restaurants and bars to pay those responsible for a recorded work for the use of their product.

The Performers’ Organisation of South Africa Trust (POSA) is a Trust established to administer Needletime Rights on behalf of recording artists/musicians who have assigned their Needletime Rights to SAMRO. POSA represents more than seven thousand (7000) recording artists. These are artists who have assigned their Needletime Rights to SAMRO.

As Pfanani Lishivha, POSA’s Executive General Manager, explains, ‘We are very happy to be able to assist musicians in reaping the full benefits brought about by the introduction of Needletime to South Africa.’

The good news for South Africa’s musicians is that Needletime offers them an additional revenue stream beyond that of live performances and royalties paid by record companies, without infringing on or detracting from the rights of composers and authors. In essence, Needletime Rights activate the fundamental goals of intellectual property by enabling musicians to make a living from their music. In order to access these rights, musicians need only register with and thereby authorise SAMRO to administer these royalties on their behalf.

Recording artists are urged to assign their Needletime Rights to SAMRO and to contact POSA on needletime@posatrust.org.za or 011 712 8000.

Needletime Rights

Rewarding artists for the public performance of their recorded music.