NASCAM soldiers on despite challenges

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NASCAM soldiers on despite challenges

THE SouthernTIMES Mar 19, 2018

    > Annines Angula

    Windhoek - The Namibian Society of Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM) has to date disbursed over R12 million in royalties to music authors since its inception in 1995.   

    The society, in terms of the Namibian Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Protection Act (No. 6 of 1994), was established to administer the rights of authors, composers and publishers of music in Namibia.

    NASCAM collects money on behalf of composers of music through copyright music licences. Over the years, the society has seen its membership swell from a paltry 150 members to 6,623 at the end of 2017.

    To date, the society has 90,321 registered songs.   

    “Since 1995, NASCAM has been an active organisation collecting and distributing royalties to the rightful owners according to the law,” said NASCAM CEO, John Max. Max told The Southern Times in an interview that they have recorded impressive growth in royalty collection and payments over the years.

    Last year, NASCAM collected over R1.8 million compared to over R1.6 collected in 2016. Of the collected amount, 55 percent was paid to local musicians, while 5 percent was paid to international artistes.

    This is a clear indication that Namibian music televisions and radio stations are playing more local music, debunking the long-held perception that foreign music is getting preference.

    Despite the positive records, “we are still not satisfied because not all clients have paid their debts to NASCAM”, Max said. He said the society has a long way to go to educate the public about the copyright law.

    “We find it difficult to educate the public, especially entertainment outlets that continue to play music without the owners’ consent,” he said, adding that they have to contend with widespread music piracy.

    Apart from collecting money from television and radio stations, NASCAM also collects levies for general licensing from music users including tourism establishments, shopping centres, stores, nightclubs and bars, public and private schools, sports clubs and music concerts.

    The law states that owners or the operators of establishments where music is publicly performed are required to obtain the performance of copyrighted music from NASCAM.

    To remedy the situation, Max said they have decided to step up public engagement through entities like the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Namibia Sheeben Association.

    He said they have plans to strengthen cooperation with the Namibian Police Force to fight music piracy across the country and enforce compliance with the law. NASCAM has been struggling to enforce compliance among drinking outlets in the informal sector that play music through music jukeboxes without authorisation.

    The society has been engaging its members and the public at large through regional workshops to share information regarding their rights and the dangers of copying music without the owner’s consent.

    Despite an increase in membership, Max is still concerned that most of composers are still unaware of their rights to their musical production.  However, he emphasized the importance of registering their work with NASCAM.

    “We are still going strong and still functioning,” Max declared, adding that NASCAM is one of the few societies if not the only one in Africa, “with proper distribution and documentation of its members”.

     

    And it has been doing this with limited financial resources. NASCAM gets 30 percent of the money collected annually, and an additional 10 percent goes to its social and cultural activities.

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