There’s fire on the mountain and everyone seems to be suing everyone. First, it was producer, Tempoe who sued Asa early this year  over copyright infringement on her songs, IDG with Wizkid and Love Me or Give Me Red Wine. Now, Asa has served Joeboy papers of his own over the song, Contour, and everything is messy.
Tempoe was allegedly in the studio and part of the team that created two songs off Asa’s V album, but like those shady friends on IG, she allegedly didn’t give him credit for his work. Meanwhile, Asa also claims she was part of the team that created the beat for Joeboy’s Contour, and even though she ended up not using the beat, she’s suing Joeboy for ₦300 Million.
Because of these cases, Asa’s IDG with Wizkid and Love Me or Give Me Red Wine have been removed from the interwebs and streaming platforms. How did we get here, and what’s all this big big legal jargon they’ve been speaking?
Let me explain.
What does copyright mean?
Breaking it down in the simplest way possible, copyright can be described as the rights given to creatives, which means they have full legal ownership and control over their music, literary work or any type of creative work. Basically, if I record a song called Zikoko Babe today and copyright the song, it’s officially mine, and nobody else can profit off of it.
Wait, Nigeria has copyright laws?
If anyone was wondering, yes, the Nigerian constitution supports the copyright law above. You can confirm by looking at The Copyright Act (as amended), Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
So if anyone messes with your creative property, don’t be afraid to use the famous “see you in court” line. But how do you even know when your copyright is being taken fi eediat?
How can someone infringe on your copyright?
Copyright infringement happens when someone uses your work without your permission or presents a close imitation of your work as their own. This has to be public, so people streaming your song aren’t infringing on your copyright — you’re also getting paid. But another artist releasing or performing a song that’s a clear rip-off of yours is a major copyright infringement. Note the difference.
What is this court injunction Asa and her people are pursuing?
Just like Tempoe got a court injunction against Asa, the Jailer singer is also seeking a court injunction against Joeboy. A court injunction is an order by law to either refrain from or actually do something. In Tempoe’s case, Asa was given an injunction and had to take IDG and Love Me or Give Me Red Wine off every streaming app. Now Asa is out to get Joeboy’s Contour off streaming too.
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Here’s all you need to win a copyright case in court
You can’t just go to court and whyne the judge into accepting that a creative work is yours. You need to have:
- Direct evidence to support your claim, such as eyewitnesses
- Concrete evidence that you’re the owner of what you’re fighting for
- Proof that the person you’re accusing had access to hear your song because they can’t steal what they haven’t heard
- Clear evidence that their work is similar to yours
Can I carry my copyright to the grave?
According to the Nigerian laws, copyrights expire 70 years after the owner of the work dies. If you live forever, then your copyright is set for life. So my advice? Avoid death by all means. If not, the clock to expiry will start ticking.
Asa, Tempoe and Joeboy’s case is not the first time
The spicy drama surrounding Asa, Tempoe and Joeboy may sound like news to people. Still, a trip down memory lane will show that this musician-on-producer or musician legal wahala is nothing new.
In 2018 alone, Tiwa Savage, 2Baba and Tekno were all accused of infringing on the copyrights of other artists. Danny Young accused Tiwa of stealing One from his 2009 song, Oju Tiwon and 2 Baba was accused of stealing his Peruzzi-assisted hit, Amaka from an up and coming artist, Yoko B. Meanwhile, Tekno’s call-out was by Danfo Drivers over a sample of their song Kpolongo featured in his song Jogodo (it’s the title similarity for me).
Tiwa Savage’s case was settled out of court for about $13,000.
What do cases like Asa’s mean for the industry?
One thing that has always plagued the Nigerian music scene is a lack of structure — and by structure, I don’t mean the mansions artists unveil on Instagram every day. For the longest time, people’s creative works have been stolen (intentionally and unintentionally) and passed off as the work of others because of a lack of copyright knowledge. But things are changing.
With musicians now choosing violence and dragging their peers in public, the industry is set to change with a lot more focus on copyrights. If you want to copy a video style, reach out to the owner; If it’s a sample, reach out to the team behind it. No matter what, just be like Beyoncé and credit everyone who deserves to be acknowledged.
Prevention is better than settlements.
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