Local artistes win big as govt moves to enforce Intellectual Property Law

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Thato Mokobi (R), the chief executive of the Copyright Society of Botswana, speaks during the press conference, as RDB chief executive, Clare Akamanzi looks on in Kigali, yesterday. Nadege Imbabazi.

establishments that play local music will from July this year be required to pay royalties to artistes for use of their artistic creations as government moves to enforce the 2009 Intellectual Property Law.

The royalties will be collected through a collective management organisation, Rwandan Society of Authors, and redistributed among all registered artistes.

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The Ben, backed by students of Nyundo Music School, performs at the East African Party. File.

This will be the first time that local musicians will be paid royalties for the use of their work, adding to revenue from sales and performances.

According to Nadine Bwiza, the Chief Executive of the collective management organisation, they have set tariffs determining how much businesses will be required to pay, in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board.

Without disclosing the exact amount, she said that the charges were among the lowest in the region and would be easily accommodated by the business community.

“The tariffs are based on the type of business, and the revenue they generate. In some cases the tariffs will be negotiable,” she said.

For instance, hotels and restaurants classified between 0 and 2 star will be required to pay Rwf150,000 annually for music royalties.

Hotels with high classifications will inturn be required to pay a higher annual fee.

As businesses that largely depend on local music content, radio stations will be required to pay a percentage of their gross revenue to the association which will be redistributed to the artists.

According to Bwiza, Radio stations will be required to present records of their play lists of local content which will determine the amount to pay.

Bwiza told Saturday Times yesterday that registration of artists is currently ongoing ahead of the revenue collection commencement. She said that payment will be availed to artistes once the money has been collected, most probably twice every year.

According to Bwiza, so far about 400 artistes are registered on the platform with registration still ongoing.

Speaking to journalists, RDB Chief Executive Clare Akamazi said that the move is aimed to create value in the creative industry and ensure that content creators get returns for their work and efforts.

Akamanzi said that this would in turn increase the performance of the creative industry in the country and make it attractive to stakeholders.

Thato Mokobi, the Chief Executive of the Copyright Society of Botswana, who provided consultancy services during the development of the concept, said that the model has so far been a success in his country and was now being extended to other sectors of the creative industry such as fine art.

Media and owners opposed to plan

However, the move has not been welcomed by business owners especially proprietors of radio stations who say that the model is flawed.

Albert Rudatsimburwa, the proprietor of Contact FM who doubles as musician, said the move to implement the directive was wrong as it does not adequately involve the stakeholders.

Speaking to Saturday Times, Rudatsimburwa termed the move by the RDB and RSAU as imposing themselves on an industry they have little understanding of and could harm it instead.

“They should not do an announcement like that when all stakeholders have not agreed to it. It’s not the principle that we are against, we are against how it’s being done,” he explained.

He said that the decision was not practical since radio stations do not directly make any revenue from playing local music.

He warned that if the decision is implemented, it was likely to create divisions among stakeholders in the sector breaking the cooperation between musicians and media outlets.

Rudatsimburwa pointed out that most of the private radio stations were established to provide a platform for local artists to showcase their work which was lacking in the past.

Another radio station manager who preferred not to be mentioned said that, in response to the decision, he would cease playing local music considering that profits are already very slim and do not leave them much money to pay for royalties.

Remy Nsanga, the proprietor of People’s night club located in Kacyiru told Saturday Times, that normally they are approached by musicians with requests to promote their music as artistes seek to showcase their work.

He said that the artistes and entrepreneurs have warm relations which could be affected by the new development.

He said that paying for royalties would cause business to stop promoting local music.

Clement Ishimwe, the Chief Executive of Kina Music, a local music production house and talent management agency, called for the fine-tuning of some aspects of the directive.

He said that, in the distribution of royalties, the collective management agency ought to acquire software that will be able to establish how often a certain musician’s content is played on the airwaves to determine how much they are paid.

Without such software, he said, there is going to be unequal and unfair distribution of royalties as it will not be possible to determine the amount deserved by the various artistes.

“They should have a system that helps to monitor how much an artiste’s music is played to be able to distribute to the musicians,” he said.

Ishimwe said the process should also involve the stakeholders in the sector since they have deep understanding of the industry given their experience over the years.

The model has previously been attempted in Kenya, where royalties are collected by an association but has been marred by complaints that artistes have not received the revenue from the royalties.

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