The Long Road to PAIA

Getting information from a record company or collection agency is not for sissies. In this post, written by Clive Hardwick, he details his efforts to get information.

The Long Road to PAIA

Anyone who has tried to get information from a record company or a collection society that simply doesn’t want to give it to you, knows that this is not a walk in the park.

I have tried, on two occasions to get information relating to the payments of music royalties from two South African collection societies. I wrote, to both, almost two years ago asking for this information and warning them that I would use the provisions of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in order to get this information should they decline.

The two royalty collection societies are RISA Audio Visual (RAV) and The Association of Independent Record Companies (AIRCO). They both have license agreements with the SABC to collect revenue for the broadcast of music videos.

In both cases we were looking for revenue relating to specific catalogue that was paid to Gallo for a specific time period. Gall but have probably been paid by both. Gallo acknowledges that some money was paid to them and agree that they are not entitled to it, they none the less requested that the information be withheld from me.

The collection societies declined to provide the information, for a variety of reasons none of which are valid according to the provisions of PAIA.

We then submitted official PAIA request to both RAV and AIRCO.

AIRCO admitted receiving the request but failed to respond. I was forced to approach the courts. This has taken almost two years and has cost R60 000 in legal fees. We are waiting for a court date, but we are months away from resolution and probably another R60 000 will be spent.

RAV took a different approach. They gave us a run around regarding PAIA manuals and identifying the information officer, Adv Paul Sibisi.

After a few weeks he declined the request on the basis that he does not think I am entitled to the information. To do this he adjudicated the question of copyright ownership. He is not entitled to do this according to both the Copyright Act and PAIA.

I requested an internal review; this was declined in no uncertain terms. RAV informed me in writing that the only way forward would be to approach the courts.

Having seen the legal costs coming in on the AIRCO matter we are forced to rethink the way forward.

Then, a colleague brought to my attention the new responsibilities of the Information Regulator, to ensure that PAIA is correctly implemented.

Having read the Regulators PAIA Manual, which was only published in June 2021, I am somewhat encouraged. Cautiously optimistic even perhaps.

I filled in the required Complaint forms and gathered pages of court records and correspondence and delivered it to the Information Regulator this week. They have issued me with reference numbers and they have promised that an investigator will contact me in 24 hours.

I will keep you updated regarding the progress, but this could be really good news for those who have tried and failed to get copyright usage information in the past.

IMC will also assist any member who needs the help with submissions to the Information Regulator.

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