Mbabane: Government has set aside 5million for setting up a copyright society that will administer the disbursement of royalties for local artists.
The copyright society is a body that represents and defends the interests of the owners of copyrights, enters into reciprocal agreements with foreign societies, and provides its members with information and advice on all matters relating to copyright.
It is also responsible for negotiating and granting licences, determining the rates of royalties to be levied in respect of registered works and associations as well as responsibility for collection and distribution of royalties to appropriate right owners.
The setting up of the society is in line with the copyright act of 2018 and will be funded by the government in its first phase until it has enough revenue from royalties to sustain itself.
According to the Minister of Commerce Industry and trade ManqobaKhumalo, the E5 Million will come from its Supplementary Budget to establish a copyright stream that will enhance the operationalization of the Copyright Act and address longstanding issues including the payment of royalties to artists & all owners of copyright material.
Minister Khumalo said the funds are still going through the various appropriate channels but we should be able to quickly implement the plans we have for copyright. As a Ministry, Khumalo said they will continue to consider the arts industry as a very important stakeholder.
“Intellectual property is undoubtedly a major source of competitive advantage and copyright protection is pivotal to the protection of the interests of creators and owners of creations while enabling the public to enjoy the shared creations at the same time.”
Khumalo said they were mindful of the need and urgency to pay royalties to the owners of copyright works by the users of copyright and the ministry is looking into the best ways of bringing this into reality.
The Minister of Sports Culture and Youth Affairs Harries Bulunga noted that operationalization of this Act has been a thorn on our side because our main stakeholder, which is the Arts industry, has been knocking on our door countless times asking us where the problem is because this Act was passed in 2018.
Bulunga commended the representatives of the Arts industry for being very patient with the government saying they hope that very soon we will get to the final stage where we will have everyone on board and you will start receiving royalties.
He said the Copyright Society Board and a Secretariat are expected to be announced by the end of October.