According to recent reports, a copyright body claims MTN owes songwriters just under R1 million in unpaid royalties for music sold by the mobile network.
This comes after songwriters issued the mobile network with a ‘take-down’ notice to remove music from its stores.
The Composers Authors and Publishers Association (Capasso), a non-profit songwriter and publisher royalty collecting society, says that attempts to collect outstanding royalties from MTN have been met with “constant rate disputes and an unwillingness to enter into licence agreements”.
MTN sells music via the likes of its caller tone service ‘CallerTunez’. Capasso is accusing MTN of not paying an invoice for 2014 and failing to report its 2015 music usage.
“You can imagine the pressure that we’re under as an agency from our members to say look I’m hearing my music everyday – where is my money?” says Capasso CEO Nothando Migogo.
“Capasso seeks a commitment from MTN to acknowledge that MTN is the music storefront and as such, MTN itself is liable for the copyright use and undertakes to enter into a licence agreement with Capasso in that regard,” said Migogo in a statement.
But MTN has responded to Capasso’s claims saying the “allegations are devoid of all truth”.
According to Larry Annetts, MTN South Africa’s executive for sales marketing and distribution “MTN has been working with Capasso to settle royalties for the current period,”
“MTN has never disputed any royalty rates with Capasso or any other collecting society. Since 2014, MTN has required all content providers to obtain all necessary licences and engage directly with regulators.
“MTN requested Capasso to submit a revised and correct invoice in respect of invoices payable. To date the revised invoice has not been sent,” said Annetts.
Migogo, though, said that Capasso’s latest invoice is correct as it is based on usage reports for 2014 and calculated at the same rate at which MTN paid royalties for music usage in 2013.