What licence do I require from SAMPRA?

Visit the Music Users page to ascertain which tariffs are applicable to your business when sound recordings are rendered audible at your place of business.

Who should apply for a licence?

SAMPRA usually licenses the owner of the premises where sound recordings are made audible to the public. In some cases the organizer of an event, rather than the owner of the premises, can be licensed. If you have any questions about who should apply to SAMPRA, please contact us.

How much does a licence cost?

Licence costs can vary depending on a variety of factors which include (but is not limited to) the square metre area where music is rendered audible, the purpose for which the sound recordings are used, and the size or potential size of the audience. Refer to our Music Users page for more details.

Is this a monthly licence fee?

SAMPRA’s licence fees for communicating sound recordings to the public are charged on an annual basis and payable annually in advance. Broadcast licence fees are payable on a monthly basis.

Is SAMPRA a government organization?

SAMPRA is a national non-governmental company limited by guarantee which represents copyrights of record companies that are members of the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA).

Why deal with SAMPRA rather than the individual copyright holders?

SAMPRA has been mandated by the members of RiSA to collect licence fees from music users on their behalf. Individual management of rights is virtually impossible with regard to certain types of use of sound recordings. It would not be viable for RiSA’s individual record company members to, e.g. contact every single radio station to negotiate licenses and remuneration for the use of its sound recordings. Conversely, it is not practical for every radio station to seek specific permission from every record company individually for the use of every copyright sound recording. Around the world, the impractical nature of managing these activities individually, both for the owner of rights and for the user, has led to the formation of collecting societies, whose role it is to facilitate the business relationship between users and rightsholders.

Is there any legal requirement to pay SAMPRA licence fees?

The Copyright Act imposes an obligation on those who wish to broadcast, communicate to the public or diffuse copyright sound recordings, to pay a licence fee to the relevant copyright holder(s). SAMPRA is authorized by the members of RiSA to grant licences to and collect licence fees from users of their copyright sound recordings. If you do not obtain a licence from SAMPRA, you will be infringing these copyrightholders’ rights when you broadcast, diffuse or communicate to the public, any of their sound recordings. For further information, see Legal Position

What are the consequences of operating a business without an appropriate licence?

Where a business is found to be broadcasting, diffusing or communicating to the public any sound recordings in SAMPRA’s repertoire without an appropriate licence, SAMPRA will take legal action to recover any damages suffered and stop the continued infringement of copyright.

What does "communicating to the public" mean?

Communicating to the public is the playing of a sound recording in public (i.e. a non-domestic environment). Just because music is rendered audible for free, the audience is small, there is no admission fee, or the communication to the public is confined to members of a club, or a limited area, it does not mean that it is not a communication to the public. Music rendered audible at an event such as e.g. an office party or a year-end function constitutes a communication to the public. People often reason that “If it is my CD, why can’t I play it whenever and wherever I want?” Ownership of the physical CD or Cassette does not confer any rights in the copyright material contained in the sound carrier onto the purchaser or holder in good faith, other than the right to be a licensed user of the copyright material contained on the sound carrier for personal use only.

How are business licence fees determined?

Music users are assessed under a system of tariffs. In most cases, the rate of charge relates directly to the extent to which sound recordings are utilized by the licensee and the size (or potential size) of the audience.

I thought SAMRO looked after all broadcast and performance rights. What is the difference?

There are at least two copyrights involved in any sound recording: The copyright in the song being the composition and/or the lyrics (i.e. the “musical work” in copyright language). SAMRO grants licences to users for the broadcast, diffusion and public performance of copyright musical works in its repertoire, and distributes royalties to music publishers and songwriters. The copyright in the recorded version of the musical work. SAMPRA grants licences for the broadcast, diffusion and communication to the public of copyright sound recordings in its repertoire, and distributes royalties to record companies that are members of RiSA. Record companies then distribute to the recording artist(s) who took part in the specific recordings. The practical effect is that the broadcast, diffusion and communicating to the public of music will usually involve two licences – one from SAMPRA and one from SAMRO.

Is a SAMPRA licence required for live music performances?

SAMPRA grants licences in relation to copyright sound recordings in its repertoire only, not live performances. A copyright sound recording made by a member of RiSA of a live performance will, however, form part of SAMPRA’s repertoire. Furthermore, if copyright sound recordings are played through e.g. the public address system, before or in between performances, then a sound recording licence will be required and can be obtained from SAMPRA.

What is the SAMPRA repertoire?

SAMPRA’s repertoire includes all those sound recordings wherein the copyright vests in RiSA’s members, from time to time.

How do I know if a particular recording is part of SAMPRA’s repertoire?

Check the copyright owner’s assertion notice on the CD, cassette or artwork. If the copyright owner is a RiSA/SAMPRA member then all tracks on the sound carrier falls within SAMPRA’s repertoire.

I only play music from the radio - do I still need a licence?

You require a SAMPRA licence for sound recordings in its repertoire if you render such sound recordings audible in public by means of audio services on radio or television at your business premises. Also, keep in mind that you will need a licence for SAMPRA repertoire if you are using recordings as part of a telephone “on-hold” system.

Should I notify SAMPRA if I am the new owner of a business?

Yes. As the new owner, you have to ensure that you are complying with all legislation applicable to your business, including the Copyright Act. You should ensure that all the appropriate licences are in place. The SAMPRA licence is not transferable between owners.

I am an event organizer or promoter. Do I need a licence?

It depends on whether the venue where you are holding the event is sufficiently licenced for that event. By way of example: if a licence has been issued for music on hold on your switchboard, it will not be deemed to cover a disco party. If the event is not sufficiently licenced (or not licensed at all), you are exposed to the risk of copyright infringement. Please contact us to discuss the event you are organizing and we will ensure that your event is correctly licensed for the use of sound recordings. Please note that any re-recording or dubbing of any copyright sound recording requires authorization from the appropriate rights holder directly, and is not administered by SAMPRA. There are regular dance parties at our hotel but we do not organize them – we just provide the premises, collect the bar but do not collect any takings. Why should we pay SAMPRA fees? If dance parties are held at your premises, it is your responsibility as the owner of the premises to ensure that the appropriate licences are in place before the event takes place. Owners of clubs and pubs sometimes pass the cost of the licence fee and other fees on to the organizer of the function. If you choose to do so then, that is a matter to be decided between you and the relevant organizer.

I run a nightclub or a premises for hire - isn’t the DJ already covered?

If the nightclub is sufficiently licenced for dancing and the number of days per year on which dancing takes place, then any DJ working solely in that club or any other properly licenced club would not require a separate licence. If the DJ is either a mobile DJ operator or plays in unlicenced premises, then a separate DJ licence is required.

I paid for the CDs. Why do I need a SAMPRA licence to play them in my business?

Since the earliest days of commercially released sound recordings, a notice along the following lines has been printed on original tapes, records and CDs (or the accompanying booklets or sleeves): “Unauthorised copying, hiring, public performance and broadcasting of this recording is prohibited”. Even in the absence of these ubiquitous notices, the provisions of the Copyright Act make it quite clear that the purchaser, or holder in good faith, of a sound carrier like a CD, does not acquire the rights to broadcast, diffuse and communicate to the public the sound recordings that have been acquired, but that these rights are, in fact, held by the copyright holder. The rights reserved by the copyright holders (i.e. the record companies), are exclusive rights. The Copyright Act allows the copyright owner of the sound recording, the record company, to authorize the above acts on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. SAMPRA, is authorized on an exclusive basis to grant licences in respect of broadcasting, diffusion and communication to the public.