Copyright Ghanaian musicians' Image Rights; why it's so important

It’s time Ghanaian musicians step up and fight against people making money off their images. They should be rather making money off their images, not others.

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Nii Funny

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Image copyright laws exist in any part of the world including Ghana. Aside from the protection of artistic contents, it also protects the images of individuals - including our musicians.  Our constitution doesn't completely cover the Image Rights but on a contractual basis, it could be covered.

A typical example is when former Chelsea Football Club manager, Jose Mourinho, was appointment as Manchester United’s manager. Even though he left the club in December 2015, Chelsea Football Club still owned Mourinho’s most lucrative image rights, according to their contract. For commercial reasons, it was imperative that these rights be licensed or transferred to Mourinho/Utd before his new contract could be finalised. He went through hell before the deal was finalised. His image was still being used by his old team, whereas he has moved on to a new one.

play Man United's new manager, Jose Mourinho (PA)

 

Another example was the recent dispute in the UK between a retail brand Topshop and Rihanna, which was adjudicated by the English High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2015. Topshop sold a t-shirt embossed with Rihanna’s image and did so without Rihanna’s permission. Rihanna sued and won £3m.

play Rihanna (Wallgallery)

 

Why did I present these facts in the first place?

There was a recent publication about an aspiring MP, Stanley Quaye, who used Nii Funny's image for his show and to his benefit. To seek re-address of the issue, the manager of Nii Funny, Ansah-Addo Halifax took to Facebook to say (unscripted); “A parliamentary hopeful, I mean someone who wants to become a lawmaker in Ghana thinks it is proper to use the photos and brand name of musicians without their consent to advertise his campaign launch. He has not spoken to the artistes, he has not spoken to their management team, he has no contract with them, he has no discussions whatsoever but decided to deceptively advertise that they would be at his campaign launch. The nonsense must stop at a point. Dear Stephen Stanley Quaye, please do not doubt the resolve of my artiste to pursue this matter to ends afforded us by law. You should have known far far better than this.”

Upon seeing this Facebook post, Stanley Quaye called Halifax, throwing garbage in the air.

play The said post which has Nii Funny's image as headline artiste (Ansah-Addo Halifax)

 

He further asked Halifax to take down the post because it was damaging. What the aspiring MP did is an insult and rebuff, in my opinion. He freely took advantage of Halifax’s artiste's brand to push his agenda and still gathered the guts to retaliate.

This is not the first time this incident has happened in the industry. Some time ago, the likes of  Shatta Wale, Samini, Iwan, Ras Kuuku, among other artistes bemoaned the use of their images on show posters without their imprimatur.

play Shatta Wale once complained about this issue.

 

Using artiste's name, nickname, slogan and signatures developed from time to time, image, likeness, voice, logos, get-ups, initials, reputation, video, etc for any commercial or promotional purpose without seeking prior permission from the artiste or his/her management is against his/her Image Rights.

And why is it important?

Ghana, unlike the western world where musicians make considerable cash from music sales, is still struggling to find the solution to musicians dying broke. Apart from that, most western musicians monetize their fame properly. Did you know that the world’s  richest rapper, Diddy, makes less than 10% of his $750M fortune? Yes. He makes the rest from his image and other ventures.

play Diddy (Getty Images)

 

But Ghanaian artistes largely depend on gigs instead of their music. They release their songs for free download and when they hit, event organisers call them for shows and pay some of them undeserving amounts.

Their failure to monetise their fame or image properly is what makes them die broke. We see a lot of people making money off these artistes.

People print shirts bearing the images of top Ghanaian artistes, sell and keep the money in their pockets. Sometimes, people print these artistes’ images on phone covers, power banks, bracelet, and sell, and keep the money.

play Sark collection

 

Doing this is so wrong.

It’s time Ghanaian musicians step up and fight against this. They should be rather making money off their images, not others. Going to court to sue won’t take millions. When they start suing event organisers for riding on their image for their pockets, this nonsense will soon stop and our they will retire and die rich.



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