Copyrights Vs. Cover Versions: What Should SIMI Do?


credit :
From time immemorial, upcoming artistes often launch out with cover songs also known as cover versions to garner recognition in the music industry. The practice of cover, that is, a version of a song recorded by a singer or band who did not originally record or produce the song is a customary practice of both upcoming and veterans in the music industry which attracts legal implications.

We all love Simi’s “Joromi” and are drawn to her creative African sound and beats. In fact we could associate the song with Simi, except that Sir Victor Uwaifo recently claims she illegally used his 1969 hit song “Joromi”. To put it in his words, she “stole” my Intellectual Property during his interview with Sahara Reporters. He goes further to recount an earlier experience with the illegal use of “Arabade” in a Pepsi advert.

Penny For Your Thought
What are the components of copyright infringement in “Joromi”? Is it the word, a part or entire verse of the lyrics/melody of the song “Joromi”? How about copyrights in the translation of “Joromi”?A Google Search will present the facts.

Before we quickly attribute Simi’s “Joromi” as a cover to Sir Victor Uwaifo’s “Joromi”, we may need to site other typicalvexamples of cover versions.

Adele’s “Hello” and Omawunmi’s cover version. Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and Rhianna’s, SWV’s “Right Here” with Michael Jackson’s. Any similarity in the melodies and/or lyrics of these songs or verses of these songs? Just a few examples here!

The Crux.
For artistes producing covers, note the following:

-Although you own the copyright in the recording of the cover version, you need to obtain a “Mechanical Licence” for the use and distribution of the cover version from the author or copyright owner of the song. Except it’s a live performance or a song in public domain, you don’t need a mechanical licence.

-If the artiste intends shooting a video of the cover version, you need a sync licence from the author or copyright owner of the original song.

-If an artiste is providing a translation to an existing song which is not in public domain, then the artiste owns the translation of the song.

-If the artiste or the artiste’s record label has produced a cover song that is not in public domain or a live performance and has not obtained the necessary licences then you can pay royalties to the author of the song through the Copyright Society of Nigeria GTE.