Mbabane: Despite that the legislation dictating that Eswatini artists be paid royalties is not in place, they are still not paid what is due to them when their songs are plaid in the local media.
The reality is no one in the art industry in Eswatini was ever paid Royalties despite that their toils are being used for commercial purposes.
During this time of the pandemic artist could have benefited from the royalties paid as their products is being used on Radio and Television.
Most artists have complained that they were broke and are looking up to government to come up with some incentives to help them survive. The artist industry was mostly affected locally and globally as most artist cancelled their gigs and bookings due to the coronavirus pandemic. Asked on why artists are not paid because the relevant legislation is now in place, ACAESWA President Phetsile Masilela said: “The legal framework is already done, what only need to be done is to speed up the process.”
Masilela said the enaction of the of the Intellectuall Property Rights Act was a major step into the right direction of protecting copyrights for artists. Another piece of legislation that is aimed at protecting artists is the Copyright and Neighbouring Act, 2018 repealing the Copyright Act of 1912. Director of Eswatini National Arts and Culture Stanley Dlamini echoed Masilela’s words, adding that the only thing needed now is the establishment of structures contained in the law to allow it to be effected. For the legislation to be implemented, Independent News has learnt that government must have a budget to set up a national structure and systems that will enable its operation.
The Act call for the establishment of “a Copyright office with a copyright registrar, assistant registrar and officers – responsible for all matters affecting copyright in Eswatini including creating a database of creators and works.” The legislation states: “A nonprofit making body which will represent and defend interests of copyright owners, which will put in place rules and regulations, grant licenses, maintain a register, distribute royalties and manage relations and agreements with foreign societies need to be put in place.”
It also stipulates that funds of the society will consist of a prescribed portion of royalties and license fees collected on behalf of members, government funds and grants and an executive director need to be appointed to be the general authority of the operations.
Guided by the law, Masilela said a national independent association still needs to be set up which will be responsible for monitoring the collection and compiling reports on art that has been used to on media. Masilela went on to say there is also need to develop a policy that will regulate the pay rates of music and content of artists used on radio and TV.
The law further states that works eligible for copyright include musical works, artistic works, audio visual works, sound recordings, broadcasts etc. Matters like ideas, concepts, discoveries, news, and speeches will not be eligible for copyright. Copyright of folktales, folk poetry, traditional riddles, songs, instrumental folk music sculptures, jewellery, paintings, dances where sound recording or audio visuals are used for commercial purposes the user shall pay the creators royalties.
Just recently the Association of Christian Artists of Eswatini (ACAESWA) held a virtual workshop to try and help artists understand how they can claim royalties. During the virtual workshop, it emerged that, the reason why most of Eswatini artists find it difficult to claim their royalties in the neighboring countries is because most of them are not well registered as required before artist can make claims.