Monday, August 3, 2009

Mzilikazi Khumalo Is Not An Owner of South African Anthem's Copyright

[J.S. Mzilikazi Khumalo (b. 1939)]
South Africa: National Anthem 'Is the Property of the State'
Sanchia Temkin
3 August 2009

Johannesburg — SA's national anthem belongs to the state and the government has the sole rights to the anthem, intellectual property (IP) lawyers said at the weekend. They were responding to recent claims that certain artists and composers had rights to royalties on the national anthem. Carl van Rooyen, a partner in intellectual property at Spoor & Fisher, said the Copyright Act of 1978 regulates the law of copyright.

The act provides that where a work is made under the direction or control of the state, the state is the owner of the copyright and not the author. In 1997, the national anthem committee proposed that the anthem should consist of a combination of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and Die Stem. The committee was working under the direction of the government, Van Rooyen said. Peter Viljoen, an intellectual property lawyer at Deneys Reitz, said normally copyright would vest in the author of the work and expire after 50 years. In this case a hybrid of two versions of the anthem were created to form the national anthem, Viljoen said.

Because it had been done on instruction of the government, ownership was vested in the state. The constitution also made this clear. The debate around ownership of the anthem recently came to the fore at the departments of trade and industry and arts and culture, which insisted the anthem was owned by the state. However, royalty collecting societies -- the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) and the South African Recording Rights Association (Sarral) claimed Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo, Prof Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph and Dawid de Villiers -- who were commissioned to produce the anthem -- were the owners.” [Full Post] [The South African composer and choral director J.S. Mzilikazi Khumalo (b. 1932) is profiled at]

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