On 22 November 2018, Danny Young accused Tiwa Savage of intellectual property theft claiming that her 2018 song ‘One’ incorporated lyrics from a verse in his 2009 hit ‘Oju Ti Tiwon’. Danny Young’s copyright infringement allegation has raised several legal questions, including the 2 below, which this post seeks to address:
How much of a song can an artiste sample without permission?
Music sampling is the act of reusing a portion of previously recorded music in a new recording. Contrary to widespread myths, sampling of any portion of a song without permission, is copyright infringement. Whether the new song is being shared for free or has only sampled 6 bars, permission is required before any portion of a copyrighted work is reproduced. These myths have been erroneously circulated over the years and have no basis under Nigerian copyright laws.
Can an artiste claim ownership of a proverb used as lyrics in a song?
Danny Young’s claim refers to lyrics which form a part of a popular Yoruba proverb- “O d’odun lan ri orogbo, o do’dun lan ri ahusa, o d’dodun lan ri omo obi lori igba”. The ownership of Yoruba proverbs is largely unknown and cannot be easily traced to one person. Additionally, most Yoruba proverbs are ageless and as such, it is highly probable that the copyright in the same have elapsed as copyright in literary, musical or artistic works other than photographs is valid for 70 years following the death of the author. Consequently, it will be imprudent for an artiste to base copyright infringement claims only on another artiste’s use of a Yoruba proverb which he/ she cannot validly claim ownership of and which may no longer enjoy copyright protection due to the effluxion of time.
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