NEEDLETIME: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
Keywords:rights to royalties, performers’ rights, needletime rights
The article chronicles the long and winding road of the development of rights to royalties for performers from the recognition of a sort of potential right in the Berne Convention, through the different international instruments such as the Rome Convention, the TRIPs Agreement and eventually, for purposes of this article, the most important World Intellectual Property Organisation Performances and
Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). It then proceeds to deal with the development of the law relating to performers’ rights in South Africa. It shows that, despite vehement objections from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the Performers’ Protection Act and the Copyright Act were amended in 2002 and through these amendments a legislative framework for the protection of performers in South Africa was established. It concludes that, in spite of these legislative measures, the implementation of needletime has been controversial because of the vastly different interpretations of the empowering legislation. This has resulted in a delay in the
payment of needletime rights which has led to several judicial challenges that once settled, should hopefully bring a measure of legal certainty to this area of law.
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