By Osa Amadi
Kenny Fasipe, who studied music at Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife between 1989 and 1994, is one of the most talented international music producers Nigeria has ever produced. A multi-instrumentalist, he is a member of Broadcast Music Inc, BMI, which is one of the world’s largest performing rights organizations. In this interview with VANGUARD, Kenny who is also the director/admin of the Nigerian Gospel Music Platform sheds light on the raging copyright issues:
There appears to be endless controversy over copyright issues in the Nigerian music industry. Presently, a bill titled “The Copyright Act Repeal and Re-enactment Bill, 2021’ sponsored by Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, passed second reading on the floor of the Senate last week. What is all this about copyright, music and musicians in Nigeria?
Well, the Nigerian Gospel Music Platform has decided to address the issue of copyright which is becoming a big challenge among Nigerian musicians, especially her members, Nigerian Gospel Music Artist. There have been lots of disagreement and trouble among Christian artists lately concerning this issue which ought not to be.
Quarrels arising from the use of one’s work is uncalled for. It is very shameful and disgraceful to hear brethren who are called by the name of the Lord – those who are called worship leaders – fighting each other because someone has used part of someone else’s work.
The problem is that many of our musicians are in too much of a hurry to go to the studio and sing. Many of them won’t even bother to perfect the work before releasing it. They will just rush into the studio and rush out with unfinished music. Then they will rush to the production factory to produce the disc and start selling.
Some may have even fixed a launching or concert date before the completion of the work. All they want is to get the music to their fans and make money. Such people will never bother to register their works. But when another artist uses part of their unregistered music in his or her work, they will start making trouble.
Any artist who does not want part of his or her song used by another without due permission must consider registering it. That is the best way to have stronger claims and better compensations against copyright infringements. In this Internet age where digital music is easily shared, registering songs before it is released is critical for musicians.
So, how best can a musician copyright his or her music?
To copyright a piece of music is not as difficult as people think. Music is automatically copyrighted the moment it is created in a tangible medium like on paper or on audio recording. But it is recommended that you register it as soon as you complete the work. That way, you will have a “prima facie” evidence that you were the first to create the work. Please note that I am not a lawyer, and this is not a legal advice. But this is how things are done in the music industry in 21st century.
Where can a musician register his or her music?
Talking about registration; you can register your music with Nigerian Copyright Commission. Registration fee is very affordable, and it’s not difficult at all.
Must a musician register with NCC to be protected?
No, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. If you created the work, and you have not legally turned over the copyright to anyone else, you are the copyright owner. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement on your work.
If you have not registered your music with the copyright commission and wishes to release the work, I will advise you to take further steps to put it online via major online music stores and distributors like Amazon, Deezer, Geetunes, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube to mention but a few.
Your song is covered online by copyright. So, others can’t just steal it. Once you register your music with them, they will assign an International Standard Recording Code, ISRC, to each of your tracks. The code is called digital stamps. If you posted your music and someone steals and re-releases it, then you have evidence in terms of your digital stamp that can help you, even in your court case.
What’s so important about this ISRC?
The ISRC is used to monitor or track your song’s metadata and sales across all download and streaming platforms. So, wherever your music is being played in the world, it will be instantly be recognized. Anybody that uses any copy of your work without permission is violating your copyright, and you can start a right claim with the digital distributors. In addition to that, you are entitled to royalties whenever your music is used online.
What roles do digital market distributors and copyrights commissions play in all these?
Registering with digital market distributors protects you online by bringing your works down from any site where it is being used illegally, or by forcing them to pay you appropriate royalties. Registering your copyrights with NCC or the copyright office in your country will also get you extra protections, both online and offline.
Nigerian Gospel Music platform is known for showcasing the works of her members to the world through the online platforms. Now we are ready to assist in protecting the works of our members and guiding them on the right ways to distribute, promote their music digitally and guide in the collection of royalties as at when due from the distributors.
How did your organization achieve that?
We registered as agents with some trusted digital distributors worldwide and got the rights to represent our members, especially those who might find it difficult to digitally distribute their music, or may not know how to collect their royalties from them. We believe that in doing so, there will be opened doors to a hundred possibilities around the world in local and international markets for them.
What other things does the Nigerian Gospel Music platform do?
We are dedicated to promoting Nigerian gospel music, as well as being the premier destination for Nigerian gospel art and contemporary Christian music. We offer free access to listen or download your favorite gospel music videos, audio in high qualities, gospel lyrics, gospel news and interviews. Our website (firstname.lastname@example.org) is also for promotion of gospel music and musicians to the right audience and at the right time. Physically, we are at 29/31, Obafemi Awolowo way, Ikeja, Lagos.