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Composers issue music “Take Down” after MTN violations

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The Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) has issued a “Take Down” instruction to MTN to remove its members’ music from its stores.

Last week the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO) released a media statement detailing mobile giant MTN’s failure to pay music copyright royalties to songwriters since 2013.

The company, which owes R1 million for 2014 alone, had also failed to declare music sales data and earnings for 2015 to songwriters. Further, MTN has failed to enter into a music usage licence agreement with CAPASSO or its predecessor since 2010. This means that MTN has been selling unlicensed music in contravention of the Copyright Act, which requires a 3rd party such as MTN to seek permission from the owners of musical compositions before such compositions can be sold by such 3rd party.

Following media exposure of this matter, MTN last week finally invited CAPASSO to a meeting after 10 months of ignoring requests to meet with CAPASSO. In the meeting, MTN requested that the matter be resolved without further media exposure. As a consequence of the meeting, CAPASSO sent to MTN an official offer of settlement that included a request for affirmative response from MTN by 16h00 yesterday (Monday 8 February 2016).

CAPASSO CEO Nothando Migogo states: “MTN did not even respond to CAPASSO’s offer, which included a call for MTN to cease deflecting its copyright liability by alleging that its content aggregators (the companies that MTN hires to deliver music to MTN for sale to MTN subscribers), are responsible. 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”.

According to CAPASSO, contentions by MTN that other bodies should rather be responsible for MTN’s copyright royalty liability cannot absolve MTN of copyright infringement because firstly, MTN does not check and ensure that the music received by it is licensed before putting it up for sale; secondly, it is MTN itself which ultimately continues to sell the unlicensed music for its own profit and gain (music sales drive data and airtime consumption and are a valuable service for the MTN brand).

“We further reject MTN’s assertion that the only reason it has not paid the 2014 invoice is ‘due to disputed claims’ (i.e. where the ownership of a song is disputed). We believe that had MTN truly intended to compensate the copyright owners as quickly as possible for music sales made in 2014, it would have paid the undisputed portion of the invoice (which amounts to 92% of the invoice) and communicated the dispute claims directly to CAPASSO” says Migogo.

Following MTN’s failure to respond to CAPASSO’s letter sent to it on Friday, CAPASSO has today instructed MTN to cease the use, sale and other exploitation of musical works owned or represented by CAPASSO members (these are known as “take-down notices”). These works must be removed from all MTN stores by Wednesday 10 February 2016.

CAPASSO represents numerous songwriters either directly, such as Tarryn Lamb, Nompumelelo Mzobe and Doctor Malinga, or through their publishers such Ghetto Ruff, Soulistic Music (Universal Music Publishers), CashTime Life (Gallo Music Publishers), Sheer Publishing and many others.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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Ford begins production of high-tech Ranger in SA

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Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria has officially commenced production of the new Ford Ranger, bringing a raft of product upgrades and refinements to one of South Africa’s best-selling vehicles and export models.

“Following the investment of over R3-billion in our local operations and extensive upgrades to our plants over the past 18 months, we are delighted to see the first of the new Ford Ranger models coming off our production line,” says Neale Hill, managing director for Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

“This is an extremely important and exciting year for the Ford Ranger, which will also see the launch of the first Ranger Raptor that is undoubtedly one of this year’s most highly anticipated new models,” says Hill.

“The 2019 Ford Ranger will deliver more power, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced refinement, and additional advanced technologies when it goes on sale in the coming months, and we are confident it will once again set the benchmark in the extremely competitive pickup segment.”

Selected range-topping models, including the Ranger Raptor, will be powered by the all-new 2.0 Bi-Turbo diesel engine assembled at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth. This unit produces 157kW and 500Nm of torque – up by 10kW and 30Nm compared with the current 3.2 TDCi – and delivers up to a nine percent improvement in fuel efficiency when combined with the advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission.

Certain derivatives will feature a 2.0 Single Turbo version of this engine, producing 132kW and 420Nm of torque, mated to the same 10-speed transmission. Various other models in the line-up will retain the proven 2.2 and 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engines and existing gearbox options – thus giving customers the widest choice yet in this category. As usual, the line-up includes Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab body styles to suit customer requirements.

Along with freshened design cues, range-topping Ranger models will raise the bar once again with industry-defining safety features on the Wildtrak such as Pre-Collision Assist and Active Park Assist. SYNC 3® with Navigation remains one of the Ranger’s technology highlights as a fully featured infotainment system with intuitive voice control.

Following the launch of the ‘standard’ new Ford Ranger models, the attention will be shifted to the locally assembled Ranger Raptor that is set to create an entirely new segment in the pickup market when it makes its eagerly anticipated debut.

“There is a lot of excitement and hype around the Ranger Raptor, and this exhilarating new model will occupy a white space in the pickup market when it goes on sale in the second quarter of this year, creating a much-needed performance model in this crucial segment,” Hill states.

“We can’t wait to get the Ranger Raptor to market, enabling our customers to experience unrivalled off-road performance, cutting-edge technologies and the most muscular design yet seen in this class.”

Some of the defining features of the Ranger Raptor include Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) shock absorbers exclusively manufactured by FOX, and an advanced Terrain Management System (TMS) that includes an exciting Baja mode for fast off-road driving. It also boasts a toughened reinforced chassis, powerful all-disc braking system and specially developed BF Goodrich tyres.

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