HomeArtsWhy artistes must familiarise themselves with copyright law 

Why artistes must familiarise themselves with copyright law 

Published on

By Fidelis Manyange 

IN February, this year, YouTube reportedly pulled down Zimdancehall artiste Jah Signal’s ‘Sweetie’ video over a copyright violation claim by gospel kingpin Charles Charamba involving the track ‘Kana Vanhu Vangu’. 

Jah Signal had asked for permission to record the song, but before this was granted, he had proceeded to record it and it became an instant hit. By last month, the video had clocked over six million views. 

The reason Charamba refused to grant permission to the Uzumba-born and bred musician was that he feared the Zimdancehall artiste would corrupt his song with obscenities, typical of the genre. 

Charamba is on record as saying he found the song blasphemous as it conflicted with his moral beliefs. 

And that, precisely, was his fear right from the word go. 

The Jah Signal-Charamba clash immediately opened a can of worms on social media with fellow musicians accusing each other of copyright infringement. 

This begs the question: Are local artistes aware of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act of Zimbabwe (Chapter 26:05) and Intellectual Property Law? 

In December 2014, Jah Prayzah openly admitted he copied the beat of his song ‘Mwanasikana,’ on the album ‘Tsviriyo’ from Ghanaian musician Emmanuel Samini’s 2007 hit track titled ‘Samini’. The ‘Chiremerera’ hitmaker admitted that the song was the soundtrack of a Nollywood movie he watched when he was working on his album in 2013 and fell in love with the beat. 

He couldn’t resist the temptation to infuse it into one of his compositions. Jah Prayzah said he was not aware of the legal implications of copying a beat minus the lyrics. 

An official from Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA) says it is illegal to reproduce another artiste’s beat or lyrics without express permission. 

Artistes who share beats are also expected to share royalties. 

Over the years we have seen so many hits being churned out with credit given to musicians for outstanding creativity when all they have is reproduce foreign beats, long forgotten or even dormant hits. 

Locally, we have had all-time classic tracks, like ‘Ruva Rangu’ by the Rusike Brothers and ‘Furuwa’ by Tairos Tendaupenyu being plagiarised by fellow artistes without authority from the late musicians’ families. 

Last year, during a ZIMURA annual general meeting, the late Tendaupenyu’s widow told the gathering that she was bitter with Jah Prayzah for coming up with his own version of ‘Furuwa’ without seeking her permission. Other late local musicians whose music has been stolen by upcoming artistes in their recordings are Prince Tendai, James Chimombe, Safirio Madzikatire (aka Mukadota), The Pied Pipers and John Chibadura, among others. 

The unauthorised reproduction of beats and lyrical alterations is not new to Zimbabwe. It goes back to the early 1980s when some local musicians who were inspired by kanindo, popular in Kenya and Tanzania, reduced themselves to virtual copycats of the genre. 

The Marxist Brothers duo of Simon and Naison Chimbetu; Kassongo Band; Devera Ngwena Jazz Band; as well as Job Mashanda and the Muddy Face used Les Wanika’s Super Mazembe, John Awino’s Kendu Jazz Band, Afro 70 Band and Orchestra CK Dumbe Dumbe, among others, as their template. 

Sulumani followed in his father’s footsteps by incorporating wholesale the beat of the song ‘Kajituliza Kasuku’ by Lesi Wanika into his hit song ‘Kwedu’, on which he collaborated with the late hero Dr Oliver Mtukudzi. 

Other notable examples are Juntal, imitating Cote d’Ivoire’s Bebi Philip’s ‘Balaumba’ in his ‘Mutupo’; R&K African Sounds copying Franco and Afro Musica’s ‘Robala Nnana’ on their hit, ‘Christmas Paruzevha’; and Tongai Moyo doing the same with Botswana’s Franco Tseitso’s in his ‘Famba Zakeo’. Sungura king Alick Macheso’s ‘Mundiku-mbuke’ is a carbon copy of Malawi artiste Lucius Banda’s hit track of the same name. The list is endless. 

ZIMURA is currently holding copyright awareness campaign workshops around 

the country. 

Board member Alexio Gwenzi urges artistes and various stakeholders to take part in the workshops. 

“These workshops are very relevant because a lot of intellectual property knowledge is imparted to artistes and the general public,” said Gwenzi. 

“These workshops are meant to educate even law enforcement agents, public prosecutors, city councils, broadcasters and the business community about what the law says on copyright and protection of intellectual property.” 

“Artistes must know the dangers of taking another’s work without permission as it warrants a fine, community service or jail term if reported,”added ZIMURA deputy director Henry Makombe. 

“The owner of the music has got a right of getting the perpetrator arrested or report it to be taken off from YouTube. Therefore, we encourage musicians to register with ZIMURA which, besides collecting royalties for them, also educates them and advises them on how to safeguard their intellectual property as works of art are like their valued houses and cars.” 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest articles

Money, value and values…futility of ‘storing’ value without values 

This is an abridged version of an article that was first published in The...

Unpacking Zim’s monetary policy, ZiG

THE latest Monetary Policy Statement and structured currency that was presented to the nation...

The history we want

THE biggest takeaway from ongoing processes to document and preserve Zimbabwe’s agonising history of...

Monetary Policy Statement and the road to Vision 2030

By Shephard Majengeta THE assumption of duty of the new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)...

More like this

Money, value and values…futility of ‘storing’ value without values 

This is an abridged version of an article that was first published in The...

Unpacking Zim’s monetary policy, ZiG

THE latest Monetary Policy Statement and structured currency that was presented to the nation...

The history we want

THE biggest takeaway from ongoing processes to document and preserve Zimbabwe’s agonising history of...

Discover more from Celebrating Being Zimbabwean

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading