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Lawyer speaks on Nonini, influencer impasse over ‘We Kamu’ hit

The issue of copyright and Intellectual Property rights is always been a bone of contention among artists.

This is currently being played out in the war of words between rapper Nonini and his former producer Clemmo.

Clemmo, born Clement Rapudo, in a recent interview, recently explained how he is yet to receive any form of compensation despite being the producer of the popular  We Kamu.

This followed a lawsuit filed by singer Nonini, born Hervert Nakitare, against the Japanese electronics company Syinix and social media influencer Mutinda, in which the court ruled in the rapper’s favor.

Mutinda was ordered to pay Nonini Sh1 million in general damages as well as take down a video at the heart of the suit from all social media platforms.

According to lawyer Robert Asewe who is also the founder of Music Advocate Africa, most local artists are never honest with each other when it comes to music ownership.

In Music Copyright he says there are two major rights, the sound recording or as you will hear people call master sound recording.

The second copyright is songwriting.

Master copyright is tied to the record label or the person who sponsors the recording of the song.

“Sometimes you will find artists who do not have money to go to a studio to record, so someone bankrolls them, and they automatically acquire some interest to that music, by virtue that they have put money to go to that studio. A contract needs to be signed here but a lot of people do not,” Mr Asewe said.

“In the case of Clemmo and Nonini, I would hope that the two probably sat down and figured out who owns what and signed contracts to that effect. Because if it was Clemmo’s studio that was used and he was the one who was making the beats or managing the studio where the song was recorded then he definitely owns some rights to whatever music he produced with Nonini,” he said.

If that is the case then Clemmo would own part of the master rights to the song We Kamu, which is in dispute, and this means he is entitled to any form of royalty shares that would come from that song.

“If it is the sound recording bit, here we are talking about the person who wrote the lyrics and probably contributed to the composition of the song then these people are also entitled to get a royalty from the song. A song can have several owners like in a collaboration, but if the parties did not have a proper agreement in writing as to who owns what, then the law deems them to be equal partners,” he explains.

That is why Mr Asewe says for professional artists a split sheet is important, which basically tells what each particular contributor owns.

“Unfortunately many of our artists do not operate under these professional terms. You will find that some of them collaborated in a song that is doing well but because of poor documentation they cannot claim rights or shares to that song,” he said.

If a legal contract or document is not available on the share allocation of a song, a number of things can happen.

For instance, he says, Nonini can claim that he paid for studio time and therefore he owns the rights to the master recording. And as the owner of the master he can license the song and Clemmo would not have a share of the song.

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