The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) is a leading regional copyright administration business, dealing primarily with the administration of music composers’ and authors’ Performing Rights.
SAMRO was established in 1961 under the stewardship of Dr Gideon Roos Senior, to protect the intellectual property of composers and authors and to ensure that their creative output is adequately accredited and compensated both locally and internationally.
Today, SAMRO has grown into an internationally recognised collecting administration business representing more than 12 000 music creators. It has built up a solid reputation as the primary representative of music Performing Rights in Southern Africa, and is well respected among its global peers as a leading music rights society.
Performing Rights royalties are earned by music composers, lyricists and publishers when their musical works are performed in public – for example, on radio or TV, in a business environment or at a concert.
Mechanical Rights royalties are earned by composers, lyricists and publishers when their musical works are physically reproduced on a CD, DVD, tape, video, MP3 or computer hard drive, or as cellphone ringtones.
Needletime Rights royaltiesare earned by recording artists (such as musicians, singers or backing vocalists, and studio producers, who do not necessarily have to be the authors of the work) when one of their recorded performances is played or performed in public, for example, on a radio station.
SAMRO’s primary role is to administer copyright in music creators’ and publishers’ intellectual property (i.e. their Performing Rights). It does so by licensing music users (such as television and radio broadcasters, live music venues, and establishments that play music, such as retailers, restaurants and shopping centres), collecting licence fees and distributing royalties to music creators.
SAMRO also plays a vital role in funding and supporting music and arts education through the SAMRO Foundation. It also boosts the local music industry by hosting regular seminars and workshops, and supporting conferences such as MOSHITO, to help foster and develop creativity across all categories and genres of music.
SAMRO is committed to being a world-class African copyright administration business that upholds the highest standards of corporate governance, business ethics and management in its quest to make a valuable and lasting contribution to the lives of its members, to South African cultural heritage, and to the music industry in general.
SAMRO administers the copyright and royalties of its members – being primarily music composers, authors and publishers.
Members who are composers and songwriters assign the rights of their musical works to SAMRO to administer. SAMRO, in turn, uses the assignments to license individuals and businesses that use music for business or commercial purposes. This includes shopping centres, nightclubs, television and radio broadcasters, and so on.
SAMRO collects these licence fees from music users, which are paid out to members in the form of royalties during annual distribution cycles (after administration costs are deducted).
By following simple procedures and paying the appropriate fees, individuals and businesses can use musical works administered by SAMRO. This will ensure that creators are rewarded for the public use of their intellectual property.
To create value for the creators and users of music;
To protect the intellectual property rights of writers, composers and music publishers by licensing music users;
To ensure that members whose works are broadcast and played commercially are paid their royalties from licence fees collected by SAMRO; and
To actively promote the value of copyright.
Through its relationships with international collecting societies, SAMRO provides a valuable service to over three million music creators worldwide.
SAMRO is a member of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), enabling it to represent the interests of its composers, authors and publishers on a global scale.
Several of SAMRO’s senior managers and officials serve on various committees of CISAC – thereby representing the interests of South African composers, authors and publishers within this important international body.
SAMRO’s former CEO, Nicholas Motsatse, was voted as one of the two vice-chairmen of the CISAC Board of Directors in 2007. At the CISAC General Assembly in June 2010, Motsatse was re-elected to the position for a further three-year term.
SAMRO is involved in various CISAC initiatives in the SADC region and elsewhere in Africa, which also involve the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
SAMRO has been a member of CISAC’s African Committee since 1994, and held the chairmanship of the African Committee from 2000 to 2005.
Motsatse also served as a member of the African Committee’s Executive Committee, while former SAMRO CEO Rob Hooijer serves as CISAC’s Director of African Affairs.
In addition to SAMRO’s activities in Africa through CISAC, its Board of Directors is always looking for ways to become proactively involved in assisting fellow African societies in the development of collective administration in their countries. SAMRO aims to ensure that members receive the correct royalties for the use of their music on the African continent.
These reciprocal agreements and affiliations enable SAMRO to collect music royalties from 225 societies in 150 countries around the world, on behalf of its members.
Furthermore, SAMRO administers – in its own territory – not only the music rights of its members, but also a massive repertoire database of music from all over the world.
As a significant player in the global music arena, SAMRO supports international industry trade fairs and music showcases such as MOSHITO in Johannesburg, MIDEM in France and the World Music Expo (WOMEX). It is also closely involved with bodies such as the South African Music Export Council (SAMEX).
Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the original songwriter or composer. These rights ensure the author receives his or her due in the form of royalties earned from the reproduction, distribution and adaptation of his or her work.
South Africa is a member of the International Copyright Union. All member countries are committed to ensuring reciprocal copyright protection for each other’s musical works.
South Africa is also a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and was first accepted in Switzerland in 1886.
Each signatory to the Berne Convention is required to recognise the copyright of the works of authors from other signatory countries, in addition to the copyright of its own nationals. The convention also stipulates that member states must provide for strong minimum standards for copyright law.
In South Africa, copyright is regulated in terms of the Copyright Act (No. 98 of 1978).