CIRCULAR BY IMPRA TO ITS MEMBERS
CIRCULAR BY IMPRA TO ITS MEMBERS.
1. As you know IMPRA recently received R10 million from the SABC pursuant to a Needletime Royalties Interim Agreement to which SAMPRA is also a party.
2. The agreement was concluded after a meeting held on 8 May 2020. The minutes of the meeting record that its purpose was “To discuss how to resolve the legal dispute on the allocation of needletime royalties and to discuss the interim relief that can be brought to music producers and performers to alleviate some of the challenges faced by the Artists because of COVID-19 pandemic, whilst the legal dispute is being
3. The agreement did not deal specifically with COVID-19 although it was specifically defined in clause 2.1.6 thereof.
4. Against the background of the purpose of the meeting identified in paragraph 2 above IMPRA considered how best to distribute the funds received from the SABC having regard to the fact that IMPRA anticipated that all of its members were impacted by the COVID-19 virus and all would, where possible, appreciate any form of relief available to them.
5. IMPRA also had regard to the fact that it exists to receive royalty payments due to its members and is obliged to distribute royalties in accordance with what has been earned by each member.
6. The situation of moneys being paid to IMPRA against the backdrop of discussions concerning relief to members is unprecedented and complicated. As a result, IMPRA has sought legal advice from a team of attorneys, counsel
and senior counsel. The thrust of that advice is set out below.
7. First, to the extent that relief from COVID-19 is a factor in the payment received from the SABC, it is the factor that induced the SABC to pay the funds earlier than it would otherwise have done. But the SABC advanced those funds as a part payment of royalties already earned by IMPRA members at the date of this circular.
8. Second, the payment was not a donation. IMPRA acquired no right to distribute those funds in its discretion or with regard to individual cases of hardship occasioned by COVID-19.
9. The distribution of the funds received is required to be effected in accordance with what each member has earned by way of needletime royalties. There is no question of any member being deprived of his, her or its royalties earned or any other member receiving more than he, she or it has earned.
10. The only way that IMPRA is able to calculate royalties payable to its members is by reference to playlists that it receives from the SABC. Those playlists reveal inter alia the tracks that the SABC has played over the period covered in the playlist and the frequency that each such track has been played during that period.
11. Unfortunately, when the SABC effected the payment of R10 million to IMPRA, it did not provide a playlist to cover the period since their last playlist up to date. In fact, the last playlist given to IMPRA by the SABC was in respect of the financial year 2015/2016. Without a playlist IMPRA is simply unable to calculate what portion of the monies received is payable to which of its members.
12. IMPRA is asking the SABC to provide the playlists up to date to enable IMPRA to effect the correct and lawful distribution of the monies received. It is also asking the SABC, in future, to provide the playlists on a more regular basis.
13. Reluctant as IMPRA is to retain the funds in its own bank account, the advice that it has received is that it would be irresponsible to effect payment from those funds without knowing who is entitled to each amount thereof. In the circumstances the royalties will be distributed to IMPRA members as soon as the SABC provides the playlists to which the SABC payment applies.
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