Tuesday, August 3 saw a rather animated meeting between the Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Avinash Teeluck and representatives of KLAK. KLAK is a collective bringing together artists from different sectors, including those employed by hotels, events, songwriters, performers, choreographers among others.
The object of the dispute is the exemption of certain businesses from paying the new Copyright Fees to the Mauritius Society Of Authors (MASA) for one year. A decision taken by the Council of Ministers on July 23.
The artists recalled that MASA, according to the Copyright Act, has the mission to collect copyright and that as a member of the International Confederation of Authors (CISAC), it has the duty to collect copyright also for foreign artists on the Mauritian territory. However, the new amendments to the Copyright Fees allow hotels, restaurants and pubs to be exempted from paying MASA until July 2022. MASA reminds that it is accountable to the international authorities.
The members of the KLAK collective asked the Minister what the State has planned as compensation for the Mauritian authors/composers.
Moreover, according to them, it is necessary to return to the previous version of the Copyright Fees for radios, with tariffs based on turnover and not on profit. Because paying the royalty to MASA should not be optional for radios. The artists also suggested to the minister to implement the MASA proposal (which was decided in 2013 and 2019) regarding the implementation of Section 16 of the Copyright Act. The role of the Minister according to section 57 of the Copyright Act is: ‘provide for the levying of fees’. This remuneration has been provided for in the law since 1997, but the music industry and others are financially penalized by the government’s refusal to implement this section.
For Zanzak Arjoon, a member of KLAK, “what we are tired of is that the decision-makers find it normal to give hotels and others a moratorium while there is nothing for artists who live from their work. The artist recalls that MASA is a private right.
The Artist Bill was also discussed during this meeting which did not leave the minister insensitive.