In an era where everything has become easily accessible due to the Internet’s stock of information and its propensity to connect, some people choose to use this convenience to plagiarise others’ work.
Indeed, in modern music, a sampling of beats - that is, using a part of someone else’s beat for your own – is allowed only if permission is sought and clearance acquired from the owner of the original beat. But when a producer samples wholly and presents it as his original work without proper credit, not only is it completely unacceptable, it is illegal as well.
This is plagiarism, and this is exactly what happened with Sarkodie’s recently released Hip-hop jam “Trumpet”. The 9-minute song, which features new school rappers TeePhlow, Medikal, Strongman, Koo Ntakra, Donzy and Pappy Kojo was accompanied on its release by a fine music video directed by industry wiz kid Prince Dovlo.
But sadly, the song’s exquisiteness has been ruined by the copyright infringement that underpins its production. This issue was raised by a Facebook user today. The rapper was quick to identify the source of the original beat, subsequently tagging a few industry players in his post to deal with the issue.
The “Trumpet” beat was originally produced by American beat maker SuperStar O – an engineer who has worked with superstars such as Ray J, Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain, Jim Jones. The original beat is titled "My Destiny", a Dirty South Anthem type beat which has SuperStar O’s signature embossed on it.
But on Sarkodie’s version, which was mixed by Fortune Dane, the beat was totally ripped, with SuperStar O’s signature being replaced by that of UK-based Ghanaian producer Def Clef. Disappointingly, the bar, melody, snare, and the progression sound exactly the same.
Listen to the original beat “My Destiny” here.
And listen to Sarkodie’s“Trumpet” here.
Notice the difference? There seems to be none.
In order to get an insight into the copyrights law binding the arts industry, we contacted multiple award-winning producer Appietus.
Even if SuperStar O had sold his beat, it still couldn’t have been presented as an original work by a fellow producer who bought it, says Appietus. Even when a beat is sold, he adds, the producer is still entitled to royalties when the beat goes on to earn money. Basically, the original producer of a beat will always own the beat one way or the other because it is his intellectual property.
“Basically, you cannot buy an intellectual property – it’s impossible. Intellectual property has to do with someone’s creativity so it can’t be bought – it can only be recreated or sampled,” he said.
To make it clearer, Appietus continued, “if I use the recipe of Coca-Cola and sell in a different bottle, I will be arrested. Also, I cannot make my own drink and sell in their bottles and call it Coca-Cola. The act is against copyright.”
He further stated that when sampling. Copyright laws dictate that only 4 bars can be sampled and looped but not the entire song. Also, the rules of sampling demand that credit be given to the original producer but on “Trumpet”, the beat was completely lifted and SuperStar O’s signature was replaced by Fortune Dane’s.
Pulse.com.gh’schecks reveal that Def Clef sent the beat to Sarkodie, who greenlit it oblivious of the fact that it wasn’t original, going on to forward it to Fortune Dane for mixing.
Copyright laws are hardly observed in the Ghanaian industry. The issue of ripping started back in the 1990s and it’s still ongoing. Do you think our producers are not creative enough to create their own beats? Let us have your views below.