Mixtape DJs Are Above Copyright Law. WTF?!? by Groovemaster Peter Thomas


There is nothing under the sun stopping a DJ from seeking copyright permission from the various right owners on the playlist mixtape CD before being pushed into the marketplace. Also, there is absolutely nothing to discourage an amateur/professional DJ from learning to be a beat maker/ producer. If anything, it is all for the better as it makes the DJ an all- rounder. The DJ turned beat maker/producer will never go out of style: such creative DJs don’t lack originality and versatility. The sweetener: they hardly get slapped or served with court papers by entertainment lawyers or get physically harassed or insulted by aggrieved recording artistes for violation of other people’s intellectual property as it is now the silent case with almost all the Nigerian Djs who are always lining up to eat up any popular records as released by the current hit making artistes as new mixtape CDs.

 DJs “eat up” other people’s intellectual property by mindlessly and flagrantly doing this or that compilation CD of all the popular hit songs in the market and releasing same into the same market as mixtape CDs with the names of the individual (thieving) DJs gracing both the chrome disc, as well as the CD jackets; with the avowed mix masters (DJs) signature voice drops smartly smuggled onto audio CDs.

  Really, there is nothing bad or illegal for a DJ to ” fix it in the mix” at the clubs, parties, live on stage but apparently, the mixtape DJs are getting famous for their sharp practice behind the wheels of steel: that is, they are making money off of other recording artistes intellectual property and as it is in most cases nowadays, without any legal consent or authorization from the original right owners.
     And it seems the country’s copyright law exempts the DJs or the drafters of the law didn’t foresee the mixtapes as sold by hands in the clubs, parties and the well advertized mixtape on CDs officially promoted, marketed and distributed nationwide as negating the copyright law. It’s that or the DJs releasing the mixtapes(recorded on CD) are above the law. They must be above the law because no one in the copyright commission and in the collecting society are speaking out loud of the illegality behind mixtape CDs except this faultfinding columnist.
  The sweet arguments that the DJs are the best promoters of the recorded and released audio material of the recording artistes cannot be over emphasized, just that anyway you slice it, the arguments that favors the DJ  is tired, null and viod. Tired and irrelevant simply because the newer DJs have grossly abused the recorded works of the purported artistes they are meant to be “promoting” by cleverly putting their very own individual DJ stamps on the compiled playlist of the reigning artistes new songs; by doing a mix of the hit tracks, sequence them, talk over the track/s or use the studio’s Vocoderized or machine voice-drops over the mixed instrumentals and vocals, mass produced the recorded mixtape,burn them unto CD formats,done, rushed them out for sale (nowadays) via online music outlet or straight into the already porous open marketplace.Next thing you know, the released mixtape CD catches on, sells out in stores and the mixtape DJ becomes an overnight success of sort, for illegally using other people’s recorded materials to ride into fame and cool money. It’s all good, very brilliant. Even the smartly ripped right owners considers it an honour that the mixtape DJ chose one or two or more of their tracks to give the mixtape popularity.
   As it is, the sharp DJs are having a field day. Interestingly too, all the hitherto barking music business watchdogs like PMAN and co that have sought to bite and halt illegal piracy, bootlegging, et al, are busy battling internally with one form of leadership problem or another, and therefore, cannot be bothered about DJs that are selling unauthorized mixtapes on e-Bay, traffic holdups, to the packs of mixtape CDs decorating the shelves in all the various shopping malls and record stores across the Federal Republic.
    Nevertheless, in the more organized societies, including the USA, despite the vital and undeniable promotion that the DJs and their mixtapes provide for the artistes, the Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA) sees the mixtape genre as copycat infringement, and first time offenders can face up to $250,000 in fines and a possible five -year jail term. That’s why most of their DJs include the clause for promotional use only to tell the RIAA that they make no money from the CDS. But who’s fooling who? We need not tell you that out here our DJs would proudly walk into the police station or PMAN headquarter (do they still have one?) or Nigerian Copyright Commission or even the COSON office and proudly sell by hands the CD copies of their newly released mixtape.
    The blame has to go somewhere, definitely, this time we cannot point to the faceless underground network otherwise known as the almighty Alaba Boys in Lagos or the Ariara Boys in the eastside of Nigeria. If we cannot fault the drafters of the copyright law and its relevant law enforcement agencies, please let’s continue to applaud, dance, jubilate, celebrate and give our prestigious music awards to the various popular mixtape DJs, some of who are already poppin’ champagne, puffin’ cigars, grinning from ear-to-ear with the other people’s wads of money forming tall ridges and thick mounds in both their pockets and bank accounts.
However, it is a loud hiss from the Groovemaster that the sharp Nigerian mixtape DJs are getting away with copyright infringement yet we see the compiled artistes some of who are under the umbrella of COSON dancing to these mixtapes yet blind to the sharp practices of these so-called mixtape DJs.
Last Note: Before going to press, we were unable to get past the PR bodyguards of NCC and COSON. Let’s hope the vibrant head honcho cum shotcaller of the only collecting society of Nigeria will give us something to publish. Our question is,  What’s The Coson doing about the Nefarious activities of the lawless mixtape Dj what’s the nigerian Copyright Commission And then , the alimighty Coson doing about the Djs behind the various mictapes that’s fast-selling & competing with the original right owners interllectual property?
     

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