SA artists reject Copyright Act, say it favours exploiters
News / 24 April 2019, 12:00pm / Siphumelele khumalo
South African artists will never experience the true riches of their labour and craft as long as the Copyright Act favours the exploiters.
This is according to veteran pop sensation Mercy Pakela, who said artists should be given their archived work by the major international record companies they were signed with.
“What heritage and legacy would we have if, after 50 years, our works are being used by exploiters and then given to the public domain?
“What do I benefit? When do I stop dying as a pauper because my future generation will not have my works?” Pakela asked.
She was speaking at the Gauteng Creative Industries Summit.
Pakela’s first recording deal was in 1985 with Ron “Bones” Brettell, who played the keyboard for Hotline and PJ Powers. According to her, about 15 000 copies of the album were sold, but she was never paid any royalties because all the proceeds went to the recording costs.
“It is a good initiative that our political leaders listen to us, but we need implementation. Everything that we have said before, it is not the first time we have addressed this,” said Pakela.
She added that in order for the future goals and outcomes to become a reality, the past needed to be rectified.
Sam Phillips, an actor, writer, music composer, director and producer best known for his role as Odwa on the eighth season of the SABC1 drama series Soul City, said it was time artists spearheaded the fight.
“When are we going to stop complaining and doing nothing? It is high time we did things ourselves. As a senior citizen we have started raising funds as veterans,” he said.
Phillips also starred as Kgosi Rratladi Tladi, the wise chief of the Tladi clan, in the M-Net soap opera The Wild and has now bagged a role on Mzansi’s Magic’s popular drama The Queen as Harriet Khoza’s father.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said all the ideas and thoughts shared on the day would be taken into consideration.
“There are complexities and it is not a one-way street. We are looking at the overall picture,” he said.
He added that his department was serious about putting a stop to talented artists living and dying poor.
According to the department, the aim of the summit was to develop a blueprint for the development of the sector which would be jointly implemented by the government, businesses and the sector.
The gathering consisted of actors, musicians, crafters, dancers, theatre and film, fashion designers, business, academic institutions as well as media owners.
In March, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) voted to pass the Copyright Amendment Bill.
It is now waiting for the president to sign it into law.