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    Most Ghanaian musicians ignorant about copyright laws

    by Kwame Dadzie
    posted Tuesday, 10 June 2014 23:54| 0 Comments

    The issue of copyright is one that should be of prime importance to musicians and stakeholders in the music industry because that is what protects their intellectual property. Knowledge of copyright laws would enable one to know when someone is infringing on their copyright freedoms and to know what to do not to flout any of these laws too.

    However, it has been realized that most Ghanaian musicians are ignorant of the laws that protect their works. All they know is getting into the recording booth and recording songs for public consumption. They don’t even care about registering their works and that is one of the reasons why there are almost always a lot of cases where people accuse others of having stolen their songs.

    Conversely, that is why most people would take songs which aren’t theirs and use them without taking permission from the rightful owners of those songs.

    It is about time every artiste gets to learn how important copyright laws are to them. Up and coming artistes should not only think about getting record deals or managers or getting their songs recorded and aired but to also think about what to do to protect their works.

    This is where the work of artiste managers becomes of great benefit. But unfortunately most of these managers are ignorant too. Artiste managers are supposed to guide their artistes to go through all these processes. Again, I think the infamous Ghana Music Rights Organization (GHAMRO) should step up their game by doing serious education for musicians through the media, workshops and seminars.

    Sometimes, you hear a musician speak to issues concerning their royalties and you know they don’t know jack about the copyright laws. Some of these musicians who whine and waffle about things not going well with the music associations don’t even bother to listen to the radio when an issue about royalties is being discussed so they always base on their foggy understanding of the little they know about royalties to argue.

    Because issues of copyright are seen as very technical and complex, most journalists shy away from writing about them or discussing them as topic on their various platforms. In the absence of the Ghana Music Rights Organization organizing educative programmes in this regard, the media as part of their duty to educate, needs to be proactive in talking about issues of this nature. Most radio presenters who would not discuss this as topic on their entertainment shows are the lazy ones who would not want to cudgel their brains for anything that would sap their energy.

    For this reason they would always settle on trivia and sensational scandals in the industry. Although, all these trivial stories are also part of the industry, too much of them with little or no attention on what makes the business tick, makes our contribution as media less important.  You listen to them bellyache their concerns and you notice that even though they may have a genuine concern, they lack touch with the realities on the ground.

    I had once written that as part of imbuing in them the spirit of registering their songs, organizers of Ghana Music Awards teams up with the Copyrights Office to check whether songs they nominate for their awards are duly registered.

    I had said that it makes little sense to award a song whose real ownership has not been ascertained. So that by ensuring that songs that are nominated are registered, a lot of musicians would be motivated to do so.

    In so doing, Charterhouse, organizers of the awards, would be helping to improve the Ghanaian music industry from another angle- which is conscientizing musicians and making them know the essence of registering their songs. When I mooted this idea, a lot of people thought it would actually do the music industry a lot of good, except some few core members of the organizers who didn’t see why they should add to themselves another task that may burden them somewhat.

    However, I still stand by this proposition and urge the organizers to take this into consideration. That Charterhouse has contributed immensely to the growth of the Ghanaian music industry cannot be gainsaid and this appeal to them will make their contribution more meaningful. Music is show business and as such its stakeholders must take the business aspect of it seriously.

    All up and coming artistes and even those already in the game should wake up and learn these copyright laws.

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