Falz This Is “Nigeria”: A cover or a rip off

Falz This Is “Nigeria”: A cover or a rip-off
The American artist Childish Gambino also known as Donald Glover recently released a music video titled “This is America” this video was full of symbolisms about the problems America faces and it invoked a lot of discussions. Falz released his own cover titled ‘this is Nigeria’ with similar sound recordings.
To reproduce a cover song (not video) you must obtain a mechanical license. A mechanical license is simply the right to reproduce or duplicate a piece of musical work. A mechanical license must be obtained to do a cover of a song, in such situation the artists pays the original author a royalty.
A synchronization license gives you the right to play a song or sound recordings with visual images. Getting a synchronization license to use a song in a video is important. This also applies to games, TV and online adverts, movies etc.
A claim that you are not the original owner is important to prevent a copyright infringement suit. See the picture below
Falz’s ‘This is Nigeria’ raised criticisms and praises, the critics mainly came from those who saw it as intellectual property theft because it is truly unknown if he got Glover’s permission or not. it’s important to note also that claiming on Instagram that someone gave you inspiration for a song does not equal actual permission from that artist.
Also looking at the Nigerian factor, in this country Intellectual Property Law is still a developing one and many older artists don’t even know much about it. 2months back, the musician Tekno released a song called jogodo which was a cover of kpolongo sang by the duo mad melon and mountain black who are mostly known for their Danfo driver hit song. The duo raised the public alarm that Tekno didn’t get permission from them before releasing the song, later on photos were released of Tekno shaking hands with the duo, both parties all smiles. And the matter seemed to have died down and it isn’t known if Tekno actually compensated them for copyright infringement. Also a while back legendary musician Sir Victor Uwaifo accused the musician Simi of stealing his song Joromi. But for this case the songs aren’t similar as the beats and lyrics are totally different, the only copied aspect is the name “Joromi” which cannot be giving a copyright protection but a trademark protection if registered.
The United States presents a different scenario, the Intellectual Property law is very well established with artists being entitled to royalties and compensations for any cover of their songs. In 2015 American artists Robin Thicke,T.I and Pharrel Williams were sued by the family Of the Late Soul singer Marvin Gaye. They claimed they Thicke’s song Blurred Lines was a rip off Gaye’s song Got to give it up. Gaye’s family won and the 3artists were ordered to pay 5.3millon dollars to the Gaye’# estate. In an appeal against the judgment, Pharrell and Thicker argued they “inspiration is not copying” but the appeal court upheld the verdict of the trial court that Pharrell and Thicke did in fact illegally borrow from Gaye’s single and ruled that 50% of all royalties from Blurred Lines including the 5.3million dollars should go to Gaye’s estate.
The United States is one of the countries that has a vibrant Intellectual Property law and Nigeria in the nearest future will join the league. In my humble opinion it was a fantastic song by Falz with great revelation of the present state of the country. We hope all intellectual property issues relating to the sound recordings were settled before the release.
Prepared by
Damilola George
Unique Oliver

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