By Nicholas Maweni
As South Africa prepares to host the 15th BRICS Summit from August 22 to 24, the focus turns to the collaboration on and improvement of copyright law in music among the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
This pivotal gathering provides an opportunity to address the lack of synergies in copyright legislation and the ongoing exploitation of women in the music industry within the individual BRICS countries.
The BRICS nations have long been recognised as global economic powerhouses, but their music industries face challenges due to the absence of harmonised copyright laws. Each country operates under its own legal framework, copyright durations and licensing mechanisms, creating complexities and hindrances for artists seeking international collaborations. By working together to align copyright legislation, the BRICS nations can unlock new avenues for artistic partnerships while protecting the intellectual property rights of musicians.
The South African Copyright Amendment Bill has been plagued by numerous technical issues that are inconsistent with international treaties like the Berne Convention and the Trips agreement, to which South Africa is a signatory.
Despite being recalled and re-introduced with certain amendments, the bill continues to lack fairness, inclusivity and compliance with international standards. By harmonising copyright legislation, the BRICS nations can foster an environment that nurtures artistic growth, promotes gender equality, and safeguards the rights of musicians.
It is essential to acknowledge the persistent exploitation of women in the music industry across the BRICS countries.
Women continue to face unequal pay, limited representation in decision-making roles, and widespread stereotypes within the industry. These issues hinder their creative freedom and professional growth, perpetuating an environment that fails to provide equal opportunities for women. To address this, the 15th BRICS Summit, coinciding with Women’s Month, takes on even greater significance.
The 15th BRICS Summit serves as a powerful platform to address these concerns and bring about positive change. By placing a spotlight on gender equality in music, the summit can encourage member countries to adopt progressive policies and initiatives, ultimately creating an inclusive and empowering environment for women in the industry.
Women have played an indispensable role in shaping the music industry across the BRICS nations. In China, artists like Faye Wong and Li Yuchun have captivated audiences with their unique styles and powerful voices, breaking barriers and inspiring a new generation of musicians.
Russia boasts exceptional classical musicians such as Anna Netrebko, whose talent and artistry have enriched the world of opera. India celebrates the contributions of renowned singers and composers like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, whose voices have become synonymous with the nation’s musical heritage.
Brazil showcases the talents of artists such as Elis Regina and Marisa Monte, who have left an indelible mark on the industry with their originality and passion. South Africa, as the host nation, proudly acknowledges artists like Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie, who have not only entertained but also used their voices to advocate for social change.
The 15th BRICS Summit presents a unique opportunity for the BRICS nations to collaborate on and improve copyright law in music while addressing the exploitation of women in the industry. As Women’s Month coincides with the summit, let us recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women in music across the BRICS nations. Together we can create a vibrant and equitable music industry that benefits artists, stakeholders, and society as a whole.
Nicholas Maweni is the chairperson of Samro, chairperson of Valued Citizens Initiative, director of Amnesty International South Africa, LLD student and writing in his personal capacity.