It is extremely difficult to sue a company in Ghana and come out as a victor. No musician is known to have gone to court to sue a major company for copyright infringement. However, a bold step has been taken by D-Black and Kwaku T to sue Vodafone Ghana for illegal use of their song.
Whenever one buys a Compact Disc, some words which serve as a warning to copyright abusers are printed on the CD inlay and on the CD itself. If you ask me, those words are not printed there just for the fun of it; they are there to send a clear signal to people who are there to infringe on the copyright owners.
Words printed on the CD and inlay: “All rights of the producer and the owner of the recorded work reserved for unauthorized copying, public performing, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this recording is prohibited”.
As the words printed visibly on the CD, phone numbers, email contacts or website of the artistes or the record label is also printed just beside the warnings. So when a big telecom company like Vodafone refuses to do the right thing by contacting the copyright owners before using their product in their commercial advert; they are asking for one thing, to get sued for copyright infringement.
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Hip Hop artistes D-Black [Desmond Blackmore] and his former rap ‘paddi’ Kwaku T have dragged Vodafone Ghana to court for using their song ‘Move’ in their advertising commercial.
In a suit filed at the Commercial Court B, Accra, D-Black and Kwaku T have brought a claim against Vodafone Ghana for illegal use of their song in a Vodafone advert. The said advert was given a brand name as ‘Crystal Clear Sound’. It was released on January 2010 and put online on January 11, 2010.
Vodafone Ghana, one of the biggest and richest telecommunication companies in the world used the rappers track ‘Move’ from their album ‘Target Practice’, which they released as partners in 2009.
Vodafone Ghana did not contact the two rappers but they argues that, when they [Vodafone Ghana] wanted to use the music, they searched and couldn’t find the where about of the two rappers who are based in Ghana. The theory is ‘If you can’t find the owners of the song, don’t use their song then’.
The two are suing the company for damages and want to set precedents for the right thing to be done when an organization wants to use the intellectual property of artists in Ghana.
According to Vodafone Ghana, after countless efforts to get in touch with the two, they went ahead to pay GHC 1.400 to COSGA office and began airing the ad without a signed agreement from the owners of the song. COSGA is a body mandated by the government of Ghana to collect and distribute royalties on behalf of right owners registered with them.
But the artistes in question are not registered members of COSGA, which means Vodafone Ghana erred in paying the money to the association with an unspecified percentage going to the body.
The two believe, Vodafone Ghana cannot build their brand and grow their business on the backs or at the expense and hard work of their song or any other Ghanaian musician for that matter. The said advert was ran on all television stations in Ghana airing the African Cup of Nations last year and aired during half time and end time periods of the soccer matches without the song owners’ knowledge or permission.
Finally a year later a court date was set and at court yesterday, May 9, 2010 the presiding judge adjourned the case to July 22 to enable Vodafone Ghana bring their evidence to court. The lawsuit was filled in the Commercial Court in Accra by Beyuo Jumu & Co on behalf of the Ghanaian musicians with their lawyer being Daniel Dweteh-Agyare of Beyuo Jumu & Co.
This lawsuit will certainly set a precedent for future legal action involving companies using artistes’ intellectual property without their consent. Musicians and Artists in Ghana need to come together to stand up for their rights and the government should ensure the smooth and effective running of organizations responsible for the collections and disbursement of funds/ remunerations meant for our Ghanaian musicians.
You can’t just take a Ghanaian song without permission from its owners, make millions out of a campaign its used for especially during The African Cup of Nations and think it’s okay. GhanaCelebrities.Com will bring to readers the full proceedings and outcome of the case when court decides on it come July 22.
The “Target Practice” album which contains the song ‘Move’ was the first Hip Hop album ever marketed from Ghana internationally. The video of the track made some rotation on TV screens in Europe and on MTV Base around the African continent. It also gained massive airplay in countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia and Liberia.
Artistes featured on the album include; 2Face Idibia (Nigeria), J-town, Reggie Rockstone, Asem, Jayso, Wanlov (Kubolor), Tinny, Sarkodie, M.anifest, Eddie Blay, Black Prophet, P-square (Nigeria).
Both D-Black and Kwaku T were appointed United Nations Celebrity Ambassadors in December 2009 to champion the case of Environmental Degradation. A track on their album ‘Breathe’ won couple of awards including ‘Best Storyline’ and ‘Best Collaboration’ at the 4Syte Music Video Awards.
It was nominated for Hiphop/Hiplife Song Of The Year and also won the Best Music Video of the Year Award at the Ghana Music Awards 2010 and snagged Best African Video of the Year and HipHop Music Video Of the Year nominations at the 2010 Channel O Music Video Awards in South Africa and African Music Awards in the U.K last year.
D-Black recently won the Hiphop Song of the Year award at the prestigious 2011 MTN Ghana Music Awards for his ‘Get On Da Dancefloor’ hit single and is currently on his first nationwide tour ‘The Yes Boss Tour’ with artists such as Sarkodie, Dr. Cryme, Dee Moneey, Stay Jay, Efya, Yaa Pono, Ayigbe Edem and more with Kwaku T acting in the new TV series ‘Desperation’ whilst recording his debut solo album. The “Target Practice” album was distributed by Black Avenue Works.
Watch the Crystal Clear Sound Advert from Vodafone Ghana
Watch Move Music Video:
By Ebenezer Anangfio Jnr./GhanaCelebrities.Com/Ghana