South African court sets royalty rates for playing copyrighted music in retail outlets


South African court sets royalty rates for playing copyrighted music in retail outlets:

In a case decided in November 2015 in the South African Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), South Africa’s highest court for non-constitutional matters, the Court has set the royalty rates payable by retailers for playing copyrighted music in their stores.

The case was brought to the SCA on appeal from the Copyright Tribunal, a body established by the Copyright Act of 1978 to determine, among others, reasonable royalty rates where no agreement can be reached on such rates between the relevant copyright owner(s) or their representative licencing bodies and the proposed users of such copyrighted works. In this case, the royalty rates at issue were those set by SAMPRA (South African Music Performance Rights Association), the licencing body representing owners of the copyright in published sound recordings.

In reaching the final royalty rates, the Court considered the evidence of various experts in the field relating to the best way of determining reasonable royalty rates. In the end, the deciding factor was a study of comparable royalty rates in Australia, which the Court determined had the closest similarity to the South African music scene. Of particular interest is that the Court used the Purchasing Power Parity method of converting the corresponding rates in the Australia in order for them to be applicable in South Africa, rather than simply converting the relevant amounts using the currency exchange rate, as it is a much fairer and equitable method of converting the rates.

The full judgement, which sets out the rates determined to be reasonable by the Court, can be accessed here.

For more information please contact Adré Greeff

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