FPB sets R750,000 fee for online distribution

The Film and Publications Board (FPB) recently introduced a new set of tariffs for its services, including a “licensing fee for on-line distribution” of “up to R750,000”.

While this new tariff is worryingly broad, one of the good aspects of it is that it opens up the possibility that video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu could come to South Africa.

That’s the word from Nicholas Hall, attorney at specialist technology law firm Michalsons Attorneys, and chair of local game developer association MakeGamesSA.

Hall said that he is conflicted about the recent publication of the new tariffs by the FPB.

On the one hand, it solves a lot of problems international content distributors have had with South Africa’s classification system, Hall said. The big hurdle that then remains is securing the necessary licenses to distribute content in a region from the copyright owners themselves.

The FPB’s onerous regulations had long been blamed for the lack of games in the South African iTunes App Store, and had also held up the local launch of a number of games on Steam.

The Games category in the South African version of Apple’s App Store finally became available on 17 October 2013.

Online distribution fee
Online distribution fee

According to Hall, this new license fee structure in the FPB’s regulations means there is one less thing to worry about for services like PlayStation Network, Xbox Arcade, and other online content platforms.

On the other hand, however, the FPB does not appear to have defined “online distributor”, Hall said, and gives no guidelines on how it will determine the license fee or which ratings systems may be used under the license.

The FPB also has not yet offered an explanation for why the fee needs to be so high, Hall said.

Another concern is whether the FPB even has the power to regulate this broadly and whether it is constitutional if the regulations are this open.

Should the vague definitions and lack of guidelines be misused, Hall said that it could get challenged and then the whole regulation might be struck down by the court, along with the benefits it may have provided.

The FPB was asked for comment on the new tariffs, but did not immediately respond to questions about them.

This article was first published on MyBroadband.

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FPB sets R750,000 fee for online distribution