By Sindiso Dube
A Bulawayo restaurant, Red Café’, is threatening to take Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) to court after a member of staff was detained at Drill Hall police station for the eatery’s failure to pay licence fees.
Last week a waitress at Red Café was arrested and detained for six hours until the owner paid fine.
Babongile Sikhonjwa, the proprietor of Red Cafe admitted not adhering to the Copyright Act, but queried the arrest and detention of his staffer.
“They came last week and demanded the payment of a fine for not adhering to the copyright act and the police who were with the officials arrested a waitress and detained her for close to six hours at Drill Hall until I went there and paid the fine,” Sikhonjwa told Standard Style.
“After failing to reach level ground with one of the Zimura officials, who was overzealous and rude only identified as Tawanda, I then called Zimura executive director Polisile Ncube Chimhini.
“She [Ncube Chimhini] said it was government’s policy, so there was nothing amiss in arresting the waitress, she was adamant that that’s the law and they had followed the right procedure.
“However, we are going to take legal action against Zimura, we are not quiring the fine part, but illegally detaining a member of staff because the company failed to pay a fine”.
Sikhonjwa said the fact that his restaurant has a public announcement system, radio and television doesn’t mean that they play Zimura clients’ music.
“They should prove that we play their client’s music and do they even have a system that shows, which of their clients have copyrighted their music,” he said.
“Those are the issues we have on them and we are definitely taking legal action.”
Ncube Chimhini said there was nothing sinister about the arrest.
“What happened in Bulawayo is what Zimura usually does when we are undertaking raids,” she said.
“The procedure is, we are a collecting society which licences music users in business premises and everywhere where the public has got access to, this we do by moving around the country, visiting business people be it bars, night clubs, restaurants hotels and we start with the broadcasters themselves, all the broadcasters are licensed with Zimura.
“After we collect the copyright fees.
“We distribute royalties to artists so what happens is our license inspectors move around and identify people who are using music and tell them of the need to of obtain a copyright license after that the business is issued with an invoice, which is payable within seven days.
“In the event that it’s not paid with seven days, Zimura then solicits the services of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and once our inspectors start moving with the police, it’s the police that arrest copyright infringers, and once you are arrested you are no longer in the hands of Zimura, but of the police and the fines that were being talked about that the waiters were being made to pay is not Zimura fines, but the police fines.
“The other procedure after the person is taken by the police it has nothing to do with Zimura.”
She went on to explain, who is liable for arrest if copyright is infringed.
“It’s not an issue of professions, it’s not us who were arresting and it’s not about arresting a waitress but it’s an issue of music users if found in a bar or restaurant where music is being played and you are in charge, the probability is that the police is going to take you to the police station,” Ncube Chimhini said.
“The Copyright Act in Section 51.5 provides that where copyright has been infringed the person who is actually using the gadget is liable for copyright infringement, the owner of the premise is also liable, the person who brought the gadget into the building is liable for copyright infringement so that’s the basis for taking the person who is found on the premise when copyright is being infringed.”
Zimura is always at loggerheads with musicians. Recently they were in a heated argument with Chillspot Recordz duo of Levelz and DJ Fantan who claimed that the association should pay royalties even for unregistered members.