SONGWRITER PATTI POTTS DOI IN APRA ROYALTY PAYOUT

We’ve discussed music distribution and sales for PNG artists in several posts on this blog. You can read some here, here and here. The fact is after 25 odd years of commercial music in PNG, somewhere along the line we have to start making music a sustainable career as opposed to an expensive hobby. It of course must begin with the artists themselves. I’ve heard the tired old complaint that studios and maybe CHM are holding them back and so on. But I think its no excuse for doing your own research, asking around and teaming up with like minded artists to try new things.

This discussion will continue for a long time yet and with the various methods one can now copy, burn, steal, buy, rip and just listen to music today one thing is for certain, there will no one size fits solution all for every artist. But even before that we do need some sort of meeting of minds of the artists to decide how they want to collectively move forward. Oala Moi a music writer and law student has been looking at these issues seriously for a while now and here he reports on Patti Potts Doi’s royalty payout.

This is a promising step, in terms of artists sharing how they may be going with other forms of payment for their art as opposed to just album sales and concerts.  

By Oala Moi

Thursday 10 February 2011 – Port Moresby: Songwriter Patti Potts Doi is one of a few Papua New Guinean songwriters based in PNG to have received multiple royalty payments from APRA (the Australasian Performing Right Association) in the last five years.

In what is only his second royalty payment since becoming an APRA member in September 2008, the money was paid directly into his Port Moresby bank account in November last year. Patti remained silent about the amount but it is payment for the radio airplay of Patti’s songs which number half a dozen. They were amongst other PNG songs picked up by APRA during their comprehensive analysis of the radio play lists supplied by radio stations Nau FM and Yumi FM.

Speaking in Tok Pisin Patti expressed his delight saying: “Mi amamas long kisim wan silin. Em i sowim olsem ol songraita bilong PNG iken kisim wan silin tu long APRA.” (I am thrilled at the thought of receiving royalties. It goes to show that songwriters from PNG too can earn royalties from APRA).

Patti was full of praise for PNGFM because the royalties he has received actually originate from annual licensing fees paid to APRA by PNGFM since it became the first APRA licensed broadcaster in July 2007. In spite of efforts to engage and educate the local broadcast industry in recent years, a quick check with APRA revealed that PNGFM still remains the sole radio licensee from PNG. This is offensive because it can only mean that there are unlicensed broadcasters out there that continue to play copyright songs without paying licensing fees. Without these fees, songwriters from PNG stand to miss out because APRA uses it to fund the payment of royalties.

The question was put to APRA Executive Mathew Fackrell as to what would be APRA’s position on the issue of unlicensed broadcasters in PNG. Mathew says: “APRA has been in lengthy negotiations with PNG’s major radio stations, TV broadcasters, cable operators and the national airline. While discussions with most operators have been positive, there has been a lack of willingness to come forward and meet their obligations by taking out the necessary licence. APRA will continue to engage with local music users to ensure that the rights of songwriters are upheld and it is hoped that stories such as this one will help to demonstrate how the collective management system is benefiting local songwriters.”

The licensing problem can be traced back to the PNG copyright law. With only a skeletal legal framework, there is literally no structure to make it work. When the PNG Parliament passed the Copyright & Neighbouring Rights Act in the year 2000, it unleashed corresponding rights and obligations for creators and copyright users respectively. The Act has failed miserably to translate rights and obligations into a workable administrative framework. That is why those who supply and demand copyright goods and services in PNG are left to their own devices. And in this licensing jungle, opportunities for perpetrators to breach legal rights and obligations are far greater than there would be in a world where there is a licensing regime. In all these, creators will choose to be passive bystanders because copyright is not their cup of tea. So it is a breath of fresh air when people like Patti persist only to be driven overseas in search of copyright services; to APRA for instance.

But APRA is just a temporary measure. Patti joined APRA because PNG does not have its own collective management society. And Patti is not the only creator without a society. For instance, other copyright owners out there without a society are the recording artists and record labels, film and television producers, book authors and publishers, fine artists and painters, playwrights and screenwriters etc. So this begs the question: what is the government doing?

The PNG Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) is the government agency responsible for copyright law administration. It should be known that IPA has really put in the work to progress the country’s copyright policy especially between the years 2004 and 2008. The Copyright Act was put under the microscope on May 2008 in Port Moresby at a meeting organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), IPA division Intellectual Property Office of PNG (IPOPNG), the PNG Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC), and the Japan Copyright Office (JCO). It can be said too that APRA was present and made educational presentations. At this meeting two pieces of proposed legislation were tabled for discussion: (1) the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights (Amendment) Bill 2008; and, (2) the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights (Collective Management) Regulations 2008. It is understood that a final draft of the amendments to the Act and the Regulation has been with the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DOJAG) since January last year. Coincidently, many will also recall that the CLRC session during the 2008 meeting was presented by the (then) CLRC Secretary Dr. Lawrence Kalinoe. He is now the DOJAG’s departmental head.

In short, it can be said that PNG requires a collective management system to structure the demand and supply for copyright goods and services. The net effect is that not only would creators in PNG have a legal basis to create their respective collective management societies; both copyright owners and users would also have established procedures through which legitimate copyright transactions can be made. Only the Amendment Bill and Collective Management Regulations can give rise to that system. The only problem is that the Bill and Regulations are yet to be passed by Parliament to become law.

Meanwhile, Patti is now set to release his latest solo album and wasted no time registering songs off the album with APRA on its website. He alone knows that the copyright system works because it has worked for him. And there are high hopes that in the future more PNG songwriters like him will get the chance to earn broadcasting royalties on a regular basis besides income from the sale of cassettes and CDs.

Interested songwriters can log onto the APRA website www.apra-amcos.com.au to complete an online membership form free of charge. They can also contact APRA by email on apra@apra.com.au.

APRA distributes broadcasting royalties to its members in May and November every year. Prior to a distribution, it matches licensing money and radio play lists to ascertain which member should be paid.

[Note: APRA was established in 1926 to administer the performing and communication rights of composers, songwriters and music publishers in Australia and New Zealand. Public performances of music include music used in pubs, clubs, fitness centres, shops, cinemas, festivals, whether performed live, on CDs or played on the radio or television. Communication of music covers music used for music on hold, music accessed over the internet or used by television or radio broadcasters.]

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17 thoughts on “SONGWRITER PATTI POTTS DOI IN APRA ROYALTY PAYOUT

    1. Not that I’m aware of, but from my discussions with Oala it appears to me that PNG artists have to form a group here and then allign or register with APRA or something like that.

      1. I note Bernard’s comments with thanks. Coincidently this month a draft report (with recommendations) by CISAC’s KT Ang studying the feasibility of setting up an “APRA-like” society by PNG in PNG has just been released. So the GoPNG and the music industry through PNGPRA and CHM have been hard at work since 2004 to advocate setting up our own society. the report can be seen as a road-map to having our own society setup and running efficiently and profitably, and although I cannot share the report contents, I am pleased to say that we will get there. In the meantime, the temporary measure is to join the APRA membership while awaiting setup of our own society when new members will join and also current APRA members from PNG such as Patti Potts Doi and others will elect on their own accord as to whether or not to resign from APRA and join the local society. Cheers, OM

  1. In addition to the information that Oala has provided, there are groups of songwriters who have gathered together officially and registered with IPA as an association. From memory, there are about 5 associations and Oala might be able to give their correct names which are based on regional groupings eg Momase, Southern etc and there is also a group, PNG PRA which grew out of a copyright awareness workshop in 2007, which has members from different aspects of the music industry such as home studios, session musicians, academics, event planners and radio stations. It is also registered as an association with IPA and is certified. In order to have the voice of the industry heard (and in this case we are discussing songwriters and their income via royalty payments) it is more effective to join with each other and have ONE strong committed voice. PNG PRA has the opportunity to provide comments on the study commissioned by APRA and therefore if you would like to be part of the group that has a voice in this instance, contact Oala for more details on where and when the committee will discuss this study and prepare their input.

  2. Hi everyone,

    This is a great post and thanks for the information via Oala.

    I am following this discussion with great interest for myself as an artist and as the CEO for a policy formulation and coordination body for tourism, the arts and culture.

    It’s checking with IPA et al to find out more about developments in this area. NCC is finalising the TK and CE Bill and policy and will go through those to see how much they’ve said about the protection of artists’ rights.

    I’ll contact Oala is suggested by Ruth to get more information on the study referred to by both.

    Best,
    Mari

  3. Hi Mari/Everyone: I think you should have a copy of the KT Ang Draft Report as the Ministry of Culture & Tourism (including the NCC and the IPNGS) were scheduled interviewees during the study. Send me an email to oalasongs@hotmail.com. For other interested persons/organizations, I have sought permission to share this report online and I will inform everyone through this blog as soon as I get feedback on my request. Pls bear with me as the report was emailed by the author to a restricted group although in principle stakeholders have as much right to the study as much as I have.

    I guess another study area that should be considered by GoPNG is a cost-benefit analysis of a copyright law. Speaking of which, a good place to suggest this is the country’s National Intellectual Property Committee.

    It would also be a good idea to get a report out on the good work done by NCC on the cultural mapping and the TK&CE Bill.

    Namo, OM

    1. Hi Namo,
      I comend you on your support for the NCC on the Cultural mapping an the TK&CE Bill.

      Last year there was this awareness taken out by the NCC and its foreman and another Dr. by profession on the locations to mark each region, which seemed succesfull, but now I seem to hear nothing more about it, and wiith the Political issues today I believe its again put on hold again.

      I still have a strong feeling that if this be considered positive, debated on and passed, and let it to work, I beleive it would be able to help alot in the problems the country and the world is facing today.

      The government through the politicains have are so selfish today that they are forgetting their role to govern instead they are politicing to much, therefore are not able to have the controls needed in these times.

      In the past few years we use to hear about bottom up planning, now lets ask what does this mean here.

      I am recommending here that we should go back to adopt the chiefs system or study there role carefully, take into account of their skills and knowledge, and apply those appropriate for helping out these problems faced today.

      I support you and keep talking, we should all be letting our voices be heard.

      Thanks

      Paul

      1. Hi Paul: The name is actually Oala – not Namo! I am as interested as you are on knowing the latest on the TK&CE bill and the cultural mapping exercise. I hope we can get an article on this blog on in the print media in PNG soon.

        Cheers,

        Oala Moi

    2. Hi ALL: In my previous post, I promised to get back on the idea of sharing a copy of the KT Ang Report into the Feasibility of a Collecting Management Organization in PNG. I have been advised that I cannot share this report as it contains commercially-sensitive information as it is only open to those who received it by email; hence it is only available to those that were involved in the study in March 2010.

      Regards,

      Oala Moi

  4. Daba Namona everyone,

    Oala as always, thank you for continuing the discussions on this important area and delighted to see the active interest from colleagues and friends. I do encourage other stakeholders in the creative and cultural industries to seriously consider adopting the same approach the folks in the music industry are taking. Collective management of revenues signifiantly strengthens creators and peformers capacity to not only generate income but also establishing benchmarks for engaging with other parties in the industry. Predictable rules may be established and this will indeed provide an ideal environment for transacting creative products.

  5. Just an update! A little birdie tells me that Patti Potts Doi has received another royalty payout recently. If this is true, this is evidence that this service is working. Only there are other artists who might be entitled – only they continue to miss out because they are not APRA members. There are other factors like song requests on-air etc etc. But you won’t get paid if your work gets picked up and you are not on the receiving end. Way to go Potts! Here’s a toast to your songwriting ability! Cheers, Oala Moi

  6. Well that’s nice to hear. I guess we can’t be publicizing too loudly that he got paid or else his relatives might be seeing him this weekend 🙂

    But on a serious note, where does the responsibility for joining APRA come from? Do artists do it themselves or do they have to go through their record companies?

    1. Artists do it themselves (i.e. joining APRA). They do not go through their record companies, although they should notify of this intention out of courtesy especially of an artist has an existing music publishing agreement that would normally govern the music publishing royalty split between the artist & music publisher (which may also be the record label).

      I just checked my APRA account online and it seems I also received a small payment. This is my firt time so I shall print and frame the online statement as a token that this service works.

  7. I think you may have missed my point regarding the study which involved a Japanese half-marathon. All of the runners in that study were elite international athletes. Have you ever seen an elite runner compete in a typical high heeled running shoe?? I havent. As I say in the blog, most of them (if not all) compete in very light racing flats. These are much closer to being barefoot than they are to being in a cushioned road running shoe. Therefore we could leap to the conclusion (based on Liebermans work amongst others) that even in racing flats we would be more likely to forefoot strike than heel strike. This study from Japan is therefore an important one to include in any discussion of this nature.

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