Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Former SABC presenter and producer Sylvia Vollenhoven loses court case over Project Spear documentary although SABC ordered to negotiate over buyback.

Sylvia Vollenhoven has lost her court case over copyright against the South African public broadcaster over the rights of the controversial documentary Project Spear she produced, although the Gauteng High Court ordered the SABC to start negotiating with her within 14 days over the possibility of a "buyback" of the rights.

Project Spear: Stolen Billions, Lies and Spies is a feature length documentary Sylvia Vollenhoven made for the SABC and that was commissioned by the SABC, detailing an alleged ex-MI6 spy who presented the South African government with a plan - dubbed Project Spear - to recover billions of rands misappropriated by apartheid-era bankers, officials and politicians from state coffers.

According to Project Spear, the ANC government allegedly refused to take any action despite being given a strategic plan to recover the stolen billions.

After the SABC refused to broadcast Project Spear in September 2012 as it said it would although it paid R559 169 to Sylvia Vollenhoven's production company VIA for it to be made, the former SABC presenter and veteran documentary maker Sylvia Vollenhoven was adamant to show it - which led to a court case.

Judge Lawrence Nowosenetz in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has now issued a final interdict against Sylvia Vollenhoven, preventing her from broadcasting or distributing Project Spear or making an adaptation of it or offering it for hire or sale.

The court ruled that the Project Spear copyright belongs to the SABC - even if it decides not to show or do anything with Project Spear since the SABC commissioned the documentary.

Judge Lawrence Nowosenetz however also ordered the SABC to start negotiating within 14 days with Sylvia Vollenhoven over possibly buying back the rights to the Project Spear documentary.

Until now the SABC simply refused to negotiate with Sylvia Vollenhoven to adapt the material or sell it back to her.

Sylvia Vollenhoven - who argued that she was entitled to keep all the raw footage - also has 14 days to hand over all raw footage of the documentary to the SABC.

According to the judge, Sylvia Vollenhoven can still tell the Project Spear story - she's just not allowed to use any of the footage that was created and used for the SABC's Project Spear documentary she made.