UKZN InQubate Hosts Workshop on Intellectual Property and Music
UKZN’s Innovation Office, InQubate partnered with Spoor & Fisher and the Recording Industry of South Africa (RISA) to host a workshop on Intellectual Property (IP) and music.
The workshop aimed to educate aspiring musicians on the various ways IP can be used to protect their art as a business.
In his welcome address, Dr Ismail Mahomed, Director of UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) commented on the value of online media for artists to showcase their work - during and post the COVID-19 pandemic - and the challenges associated with monetising the space.
Noting that there are many issues surrounding IP and regulations, he said he hoped the event would be a catalyst for future conversations with student artists: ‘As the Centre of Creative Arts and the School of the Arts, we welcome initiatives such as these because whilst we know that an incredible amount of teaching happens around the creativity, technique and knowledge of becoming a good artist, one can learn from the experience of those in the industry.
‘This workshop is important in equipping you with the knowledge, skills, resources and networks that you will require to build a sustainable livelihood for yourselves when you start practicing as musicians.’
UKZN alumnus and partner at Spoor & Fisher Attorneys, Ms Zama Buthelezi described IP as creations of the mind and highlighted its importance in stopping others from copying the original work as well as facilitating financial gain. Focusing on trademarks as a distinctive brand, Buthelezi noted that they can be used to protect stage or band names and encouraged students to register a trademark with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).
Turning to copyright, she said that original literary, artistic, musical, sound and cinematographic works can be protected, giving the owner and/or author exclusive rights while the owner and/or author is still alive and 50 years after their death, after which it becomes part of the public domain. Copyright for most works is secured automatically upon creation of the work by displaying the words “copyright” or “copyright reserved” or using the internationally recognised copyright symbol © followed by your name and the year however, the copyright for cinematography must be registered with the Registrar for Copyright.
Ms Nothando Migogo co-founder of Sosela and executive director of the 1020 Cartel and 1020 Management, a Johannesburg-based record label and music agency, presented a breakdown of the legal aspects of the music industry.
She focused on the importance of understanding how to approach music as a business and examined the music industry as an ecosystem. ‘The first point of this ecosystem is you as the creator, and the end point is getting your music to the user which includes digital platforms, broadcasters, film and adverts, live performances and brand collaborations. Everything that happens in-between is the music industry and you need that ecosystem to work effectively for you to earn money.’
Migogo highlighted the third part of the ecosystem as the distributor (digital), and the fourth as ‘the Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) who deliver the money that comes from mass consumption of your music.’ Examples of the latter include the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) which deals with public performance of music; the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) that handles mass reproduction; and the South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA) which deals with the mass public performance of the master.
The fifth structure is support structures and professions such as lawyers, managers, and financial and tax advisors. Migogo noted the lack of unions in South Africa to protect artists’ rights, remuneration and social security. The sixth part of the ecosystem is legislation and regulation of the industry. A Copyright Act that will recognise streaming and digital exploitation is currently in the pipeline.
Two types of copyright apply to a song, namely the composition owned by the creator, and the master owned by whoever paid for studio time, eg the recording label or the owner of the studio.
‘You sign on to a music publisher who represents you as the composer but takes a share of the composition to market it to different users (brands, movies, advertisers, etc.) which can result in a sync deal. There is a separate sync license for the composition and the master, which can earn a lot of money for an artist,’ said Migogo.
Urging artists to think of their brand long-term she advised them to be selective of who and what they associate themselves with and highlighted the concept of moral rights (linked to copyright) which gives the artist the right to choose what his/her brand is associated with.
UKZN alumnus and musician, Dr Naresh Veeren presented an insightful overview of the realities of being an artist. He implored student artists to nurture their mind and bodies before choosing this career and noted the importance of discipline and building a strong network early on.
Mrs Suvina Singh, Director of Intellectual Property and Commercialisation at UKZN InQubate summarised the Innovation Office’s portfolio which includes: protection of intellectual property and commercialisation of research output by academics and students (technology transfer); consultancy - identifying opportunities for academics to engage with industry outside of traditional research; and the student entrepreneurship skills programme - ENSPIRE.
She noted that the knowledge shared in the workshop would assist students to position themselves as emerging artists in the music industry, and thanked the School of the Arts, the Centre for Creative Arts, and the speakers for an intriguing workshop.
The participants were treated to a performance by UKZN student and artist Black Blondy and Veeren, as well as a concert to launch the Loveuations EP.
Words: Hlengiwe Khwela