We live in a country where copyright has become an issue. One may wonder if the copyright laws work in Ghana. Without putting proper measures in place, an artist cannot fully enjoy the fruit of his/her labour.
One important aspect of copyright issue that our musicians are ignorant about is sampling. In music, sampling refers to the act of capturing or taking a section of a person’s sound recording and incorporating it into a new recording. A person can either sample a recorded voice or a programmed beat.
There are certain legalities surrounding sampling elements of another person’s song. These issues, however, I think Ghanaian musicians know next to nothing about them. Songs are being sampled everyday for free without any permission or authorisation from the owners of the work.
Not long after P Square released their hit track, Alingo, one of Ghana’s finest Dancehall artistes, Samini, sampled the ‘Alingo’ beat, which he even used to throw punches at the owners of the beat (P Square). Appietus, a renowned sound engineer in the country, was bashed by a section of Ghanaians when he sampled DJ Cyndo’s ‘Amerido’ beat for 5Five’s ‘Muje Baya’ track.
Before an artiste can sample an already existing recording, permission ought to be granted by the songwriter, the musician who owns the song, or the musician’s record label. Even after granting the permission, the artiste who intend using the sampled work has to pay a license fee to the owner of the song. The license fee depends on the how much of the music is been sampled, the popularity of the song intended to be sampled, and the intended use of the sample in one’s song. Without these, the outcome is tantamount to stealing a person’s intellectual property or infringing on copyright laws.