When signing a performers contract, have you considered that you might be signing away your future? The next time you put pen to paper do seriously consider if your signature is to your favor or that of the broadcaster or production company that you are entering into an agreement with because there is so much power to rights of performers.


Consider the following as governed by law. As a performer (e.g. actors, musicians, dancers) you have the right to prevent the broadcast, fixation or reproduction of your performance. In South Africa, the Performers Protection Act grants performers exclusive rights to prevent certain acts from being committed in relation to your performances without your consent. The Act provides that a performer has the right to prevent anyone from broadcasting or communicating to the public his or her unfixed performance and from making a fixation of his or her unfixed performance.


A performer’s rights are also infringed if anyone, without the performer’s consent, makes a reproduction of a fixation of a performance if the original fixation was made without the performer’s consent; the reproduction was made for purposes other than those for which the performer gave his or her consent originally; or the original fixation was made in accordance with the so-called “fair use” provisions and the reproduction thereof is made for purposes not included within these provisions. The Performers Protection Act also provides that no person may broadcast; cause to be transmitted in a diffusion service; or cause to be communicated to the public a recording of a performance published for commercial purposes without payment of a royalty to the performer concerned.


Now, how involved are you in making the decisions on how productions should be communicated or broadcasted, and more importantly how future broadcasts should remunerate you? Or do you leave it to the fine print and consequently lose any potential future benefits from your creative contribution? Word of advise; keep abreast with copyright acts and what they mean to you as a performer. What better way of doing this than learning directly from the dti. The deputy director of intellectual property law and policy at the dti, Meshendri Padayachy spends some of her time sharing valuable information on the process of copyright act (she will engage in a 2016 Copyright Act update at Emperors Palace).


Make it your business to stay informed on your rights in order to make informed contractual decisions about your future.