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Artists rally behind copyright and performers' protection bills

───   OLEBOGENG MOTSE 22:07 Thu, 07 Sep 2023

Artists rally behind copyright and performers' protection bills | News Article
Photo: Jack Devnarain

South Africa’s performing artists are continuing to pledge their support for the Copyright Amendment Bill and Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill, condemning backlash directed at the bills.

Jack Devnarain, the Chairman of the South African Guild of Actors (SAGA) was on the OFM Business Hour to discuss the bills themselves and to unpack the significance of the legislation in protecting artists from further exploitation. Devnarain, who is known for advocating for performing artists outlines some of the challenges that persist in the creative industry.

The revered TV and film actor says in South Africa “we don’t have a mechanism for negotiation with broadcasters or streamers” in other words they do not have a right to unionise which in turn means they have no right to engage in collective bargaining. The seriousness of the issue is brought into focus when looking at the ongoing actors and writers strike in the United States.

According to the New York Times actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) – joined the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike owing to an impasse over residual payments from streaming services. “Streaming series typically have far fewer episodes than television series did. And it used to be that if a television series was a hit, actors and writers could count on a long stream of regular residual checks; streaming has changed the system in a way that they say has hurt them. Both groups also want aggressive guardrails around the use of artificial intelligence to preserve jobs” revealed the news outlet.

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Devnarain says whilst there are strong parallels that can be drawn between the issue in the States and in South Africa. Local actors are rendered powerless by an inability legislatively to unionise. The SAGA Chairman says this is why it’s important that the industry gets regulated.

Copyright Amendment Bill and Performers Protection Amendment Bill backlash 

Speaking of regulation earlier in the year reports surfaced stating the Recording Industry of SA (RiSA) vehemently opposed the introduction of the Copyright Amendment Bill and Performers Protection Amendment Bill. 

ALSO READ: OFM Artbeat: Call for visual artists to apply for funding with the Art Bank of SA

RiSA which represents the collective interests of producers of music sound recordings in South Africa, made submissions to the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment, and Labour saying the bills would harm the South African creative sector and undermine the rights and interests of artists and producers. 

Devnarain refutes this assertion adding that only those who have benefited from the exploitation of artists oppose the bills. 

OFM Business Hour

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