The South African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) has frozen hundreds of thousands of rands in royalties belonging to Big Nuz because of a licensing dispute.

The Durban kwaito outfit – made up of Mampintshana, Mashesha and Danger – was at the centre of a battle between publishing company Sheer Publishing Africa and their recording label Afrotainment, owned by Mthokozisi “DJ Tira” Khathi.

The dispute stems from Khathi allegedly signing Big Nuz knowing their publishing rights belong to Sheer.

Karabo Motijoane, the general manager at Sheer, was adamant that they signed Big Nuz in 2004 before Khathi came into the picture.

“We have a dispute because DJ Tira went to claim [for royalties] as a publisher, while we were already in place as publishers for Big Nuz,” said Motijoane.

But Khathi disputed the claim, saying he signed Big Nuz after seeing “faults” in the agreement they had with Sheer.
Motijoane, however, laughed off the allegations, saying Khathi should have challenged Sheer legally “if there were faults in our agreement as he claims. Why would Samro allow that to happen? They can’t accept a faulty agreement.

“If Big Nuz is not happy with us, a proper processes must be followed. We are willing to engage. We called many meetings to solve this, through Samro as a mediator, but no one from Afrotainment pitched,” explained Motijoane.

“During our last try, only Danger [Mzi Tshomela] came to Samro, but that meeting never took place.”

He said they signed Big Nuz when they were still working with the late Patrick “Kid” Mokoena of Why Not Entertainment.
“He [Tira] must ask them if they aren’t happy working with us. We will then act based on their answer. There was a time when we received a termination letter that was not even signed from Samro, but we didn’t entertain such because a letter must be signed by all parties.”

Motijoane told Sunday World that every song the group had was licenced under Sheer.
“Since June 30 2011, they’ve never been paid performances royalties,” he said.
“We can sue Afrotainment, but we don’t want our clients to suffer. They get a lot of gigs through Afrotainment and we don’t want that to be taken away.”

Motijoane could not reveal how much of Big Nuz’s money sat in Samro’s coffers due to “client confidentiality”.

“There’s something wrong with their paper work, but I’m not sure if I can disclose that without speaking to my lawyers,” said Khathi.

“I signed Big Nuz for publishing, as artists, and artist management for things like bookings. Sheer and Big Nuz must sort out their issues. This dispute is hurting them because their monies are held back at Samro.”

Executive Manager for Rights Holder Services at Samro Pfanani Lishivha said: “Both parties are Samro members and both claim ownership of the songs in question. An official dispute has been filed. In terms of the Samro rules, [it] cannot distribute any royalties that have accrued until the dispute is resolved. The group’s hits since 2011 have enjoyed radio and TV airplay, but Big Nuz is yet to earn royalties.”

A song makes money on radio and TV by the number of times it has been played. At times, Samro sends officials to live events to record each song that gets played. The event organisers then have to pay performance royalties.

Article by Buchule Raba

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