One was the Tom Petty victory in a case against a song made popular by Sam Smith: Stay with me. His win saw the artists reaching an agreement in which Smith would pay Petty royalties from the song. Ageing funk singer Sly Stone also triumphed in a legal battle against his former manager and attorney on the grounds that he was misled into signing an agreement that meant all his royalties were diverted. This has no doubt left the two artists extremely glad that copyright existed to protect their creative works.
In South Africa, intellectual property entitlement has been extended to add new creations and other works that may not have been known in the past years. Under the South African Copyright Act there are many different types of works mentioned and each type of work is eligible for copyright if it is included in the act.
According to the South African Copyright Act (No. 98 of 1978), the following works, when original, are entitled for copyright protection:
Musical works (whether written, or recorded on a device).
1. Films and videos (story ideas written down for musical videos).
2. Sound recordings (e.g. the mix of beats or instruments on a CD).
3. Music published online through the use of iTunes, YouTube or SoundCloud (if it is shared by the original musician).
Here are some responses from SAMRO on frequently asked questions on copyright:
Q: How do you copyright your musical works?
A: Copyrighting your music is simple. To copyright your creative work, all you need to do is put your original music and lyrics on paper, a CD, MP3 player or even a DVD and there – you have it. Your work is entitled to copyright protection. Once you have completed your work and put it in a DVD or a CD, you can list it with institutions such as the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) to administer your Performing Rights and Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) to administer your Mechanical Rights.
Q: What does the Copyright Act, 1978 entitle me to?
A: The Copyright Act ensures that as the owner of the copyright, you have the exclusive rights to allow or even disallow the following:
• The reproduction of your original work.
• The distribution of your work.
• The performance of the work.
• The public display of the work.
It is important to remember that copyright implies that there are financial benefits to whoever has the right to the copyrighted material. These financial benefits are royalty income.
We as SAMRO, collect licence fees from music users on behalf of our members and then distribute them as royalty income to the deserving SAMRO members. However, this benefit is only for those members whose works are active, in other words they have been performed or used in public. You cannot receive royalty income if your music is not played.