The great Nkosi Sikelela rip-off

2012-06-16 18:26

South Africa’s national anthem is a cash cow – but it is foreign singers and international publishing companies who are milking Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrica for all it’s worth.

The global music industry – including the likes of Belgian singer Helmut Lotti – is making an estimated R100 million a year off the anthem by listing versions of Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrica on a powerful and secretive international rights collection network called CIS-Net.

The government, meanwhile, says the state owns the national anthem on behalf of all South Africans – yet admits that it is not collecting a cent.

City Press gained access to information from the world’s most powerful music database, CIS-Net by FastTrack, drawn at the end of 2010 after a slew of new anthems emerged on the market in the years leading up to the Fifa World Cup.

It indicates that there are 61 claimants on royalties for Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrica or any derivative of the name, including National Anthem of South Africa.

This is backed up by information on the International Standard Musical Work Code database, as well as others seen by City Press.

The government’s name, however, could not be found.

Because the state appears not to have protected the various performance and mechanical rights payable to the 1994 version, it has opened a loophole that is easy for individuals to exploit, knowingly or unwittingly.

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