It has become common practice for some individuals to do remakes of songs by other artists while concealing their identities.
Things are worsened by the fact that some of these copycats go to the extent of using the names of the original creators of the content to portray them as being behind the reworked versions too. Such is the case that befell seasoned musician-cum-politician Billy Kaunda this week.
When an unidentified individual reworked on Kaunda’s one-time sensational hit Agalatiya.
While maintaining the general complexion of the original song such as the beat, delivery of lyrics, the imitator only twisted its content.
The song has been uploaded on online streaming platform YouTube bearing Kaunda’s name and his picture. That is how far the copycat has gone.
Whereas Kaunda’s original song attacked Malawi’s first democratic president Bakili Muluzi’s open term bid, the remake is aiming at the current rulers, Tonse Alliance. In particular, the song has singled out individuals such as Minister of National Unity Timothy Mtambo.
The former human rights activist’s name comes out in the first stanza apparently owing to the role he played while he was with the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation leading public demonstrations that are viewed by many to have contributed to the ouster of the Democratic Progressive Party government.
Another individual who has come in the fray is his former colleague at Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC). Trapence too has not been spared of the jabs just like President Lazarus Chakwera. It is a hard-hitting song. As a no-holds barred delivery.
It should be understood here that it is no crime whatsoever to do a song in denouncing any conduct or individual as long as you stay within the permissible legal boundaries. The person behind the song’s new version cannot be faulted for expressing himself that way.
What is wrong, however, is his lack of belief in his cause. If he really believed in his cause as just, why did he not come to attribute his name against the production? Given the slanting of the song, one can easily detect malicious intentions.
We are well aware of the implications of such intensely political compositions as having landed artists into trouble with either the powers that be or their overzealous followers. Not everyone listening to the song will question whether it is Kaunda doing the song or not.
Potentially Kaunda has been put at a disadvantaged position with forces that he may not suspect at any given time. His name is out there as the person behind the remake of the song.
Just like Kaunda did, to stand up against Muluzi’s administration then, this imitator was supposed to come out clean on this one too rather than to coil under somebody’s name. At this point, his intentions will be taken into question.
Did he really mean to offer counsel to the current governors by offering reminders on their style of governance or just trying to get Kaunda in conflict with the government?
Another element we need to reflect on is how punitive the controlling system is when it comes to bringing such culprits to account for their misdemeanors. Is the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) applying the required effort to deter such acts or punish the wrongdoers?
The issues of copyright infringement have become so common. Just few weeks ago South African artist Papa Penny went to town on another Malawian artist who had redone his song Milandhu Bhee without his permission.
That episode was as embarrassing as it could get. We need to fortify our systems so that one; people should be aware that it is wrong to copy other people’s work without permission and how such acts have potential to finish off someone’s career.
The copyright body has an opportunity now to stamp its authority and send a strong message to any would-be offender. Let it show its teeth so it can deter all would-be offenders. This conduct has no space in the creative space.