Legal Drama, Music Business

2Face threatens to sue Blackface over claims he stole ‘Let Somebody Love You’ ft. Bridget Kelly

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The public dispute between Blackface and 2Face over 2Face allegedly stealing the former’s songs has been ongoing for years. What typically happens is we do not hear from Blackface for some time, then he appears, typically via social media, and claims 2Face and Efe Omoregbe, 2Face’s manager, stole the songs he wrote and that they have commercially exploited his songs without his consent and compensation.

2Face has been known to speak out against intellectual property infringement and is an ambassador for COSON on those issues. Efe is an activist in that regards as well, from his work with COSON, and many other ventures. So, needless to say, it would seem hypocritical if they, in fact, are infringing on Blackface’s copyrights.

Typically, the songs Blackface refers to, according to him, are songs he wrote as a band member of the now defunct 1990s group Plantashun Boiz which consisted of Faze, 2Face and Blackface. It appears, from his prior statements, that many of the songs were co-written during band sessions by him and 2Face.

Some weeks ago, the same pattern arose where Blackface accused 2Face of stealing his songs including ‘Let Somebody Love You ft. Bridget Kelly, an American singer. Of course, the story went viral as it typically does. I reached out to 2Face’s team and Efe Omoregbe referred me to Efe’s statement regarding the issue. However, it seems the statement was not enough as 2Face is now threatening to sue Blackface for defamation if he does not recant his story.

I am unsure that suing for defamation is the strongest legal recourse. I think when it comes to joint ownership of copyrighted works where music bands are concerned, it becomes pretty dicey to parse out legal rights when the parties never addressed those rights in the first place.I think it might be prudent to use a different legal tool, and add defamation as one of many claims.

Anyway, let me talk very briefly about joint ownership of copyrighted works under Nigeria’s Copyright Act.

AML Artists, if you create an original work that is fixed in a concrete form, for example, you take pen to paper and compose lyrics for a song, your written work is protected by copyright law. This means that the law gives you an exclusive bundle of rights which allows you to reproduce, distribute, adapt, perform, or display your work, among other rights.

Exclusivity means no one else can use your work without your permission, although there are limitations to the general rule.

What happens if you co-write your song with someone else? When you do so, you have created a joint work under the Nigerian Copyright Act. To create a joint work under the Copyright Act, several things have to occur:

  1. The work must be created by at least two people.
  2. Each contribution by each person who creates the work must be an inseparable element of the work i.e. you can’t commercially exploit a song, for example, without needing the other parts of the song that was jointly created by your joint authors.
  3. Once the joint work is created, you and the other joint owner have an undivided share in the work created i.e. each f you are the co-owners of the entire copyright in the song and your interest in the work will be shared equally.
  4. You can perform, reproduce and license the work (non-exclusive license) to others without needing permission. However, you must account and share the profits from your non-exclusive licensing of the work, equally.
  5. If you want to assign the entire song you have written to a third party, then you need the consent of ALL joint owners.

To avoid a situation like 2Face and Blackface, ensure you have a partnership agreement if you are part of a band. In that agreement, you should address copyright ownership and income from co-owned songs in advance. By the way, these 2Face v. Blackface brouhaha is a common problem in the industry. Some notorious cases include Don Jazzy v. D’Banj during the Mo’Hits era, Don Jazzy v. Wande Coal at the onset of the Mavin Records, P-Square v. Waje over the ‘Do Me’ song and the list goes on.

My conclusion is that if Nigerian or African artists will collaborate on the international front, they will need to sort out copyright issues and ensure clearances, otherwise, they are walking liabilities and most western brands simply will not take such risks.

Best wishes to these parties. I hope they sort out their problems, once and for all.

If you do business with the United States and have a similar issue, then to arrange a consultation to discuss your case, contact me at 916-361-6506 or email me directly at (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com).

-Ms. Uduak

BLACKFACE’S ACCUSATION CULLED FROM PREMIUM TIMES NIGERIA NEWSPAPER

“PT: What are you most unhappy about in the Nigerian music sector?
BFN: A lot of things that is not right. Like artistes remaking songs of another artiste outside the shores of Nigeria thinking there is no copyright law. If you dig deep, a lot of your favourite artistes are guilty of this and it makes us look bad. Also, a lot of artistes find it difficult to pay for studio sessions and pay producers their fees. Some also find it hard to print CDs and to get generous airplay in radio or TV stations. So, it breaks me when an artiste says they have to pay money to get their music played when they should be getting paid to play their songs. I find that horrible and it should be looked into. We need more content providers to spring up and record labels and banks should look into sponsoring labels and independent artistes.

PT: What roles do these artistes themselves have to play?
BFN: Artistes should also develop the attitude of performing live. Vocal piracy is also a big issue and artistes need to desist from it. The government has to act now in the aforementioned sectors, as they are responsible for the society we find ourselves.

PT: You have been very critical of your former band mate 2face of recent on social media. Don’t you think it’s better to reach out to him in person rather than the social media outbursts?

BFN: The medium doesn’t matter. What matters is that he and his people get my message.

PT: Since you accuse 2face of intellectual theft have you considered taking legal actions against him?
BFN: Yes, I have; and my legal team is working on that, as that’s the best way to go. When I accused them, they lied and said its ‘unfortunate’. I said they took my song and then even said maybe my account was hacked. Well, if you thought so why didn’t you pick up your phone and say “Yo black.. . What’s going on?’ But, no they won’t because they wanted to steal it and it backfired, and they trying to act ‘holy’ so they make flimsy excuses. 2face and his manager planned all of that. 2face sang my song (Let Somebody Love You) and featured an American artiste, Bridget Kelly. His manager published it without my permission. Till today they haven’t deemed it fit to tell the world that they tried to assassinate my character in the media but that couldn’t be justice and they know. So, the court is our only option as they keep avoiding meetings thinking that with time it will all fade off. But, they know not what tomorrow holds and neither do I.”

EFE OMOREGBE’S STATEMENT REGARDING THE ALLEGED THEFT

When my attention was drawn to Blackface’s twitter rant about the “theft” of his songs by his ex-band mate 2Baba, my initial reaction was to ignore what I perceived as an obvious marketing gimmick for his new single.

The reaction from a vast majority of people on social media who read about the allegations was evidence that the ploy had backfired.

Blackface’s press interviews since the twitter rant has made it necessary for me to present the flip side and set the records straight.

1. 2Baba and Blackface do have a bunch of songs they co-wrote in their days as Plantashun Boiz.

2. Both artistes have collectively and individually recorded and commercially released materials from this collection.

3. 2Baba has always given Blackface (Austin Ahmedu) co-writing credit every time he recorded any song that has Blackface’s input – No matter how minimal.

4. Blackface has neither given 2Baba (Innocent Idibia) co-writing credit nor sought “permission” to record any of the materials they jointly authored.

5. Blackface has earned royalties off his shared publishing rights for about a decade.

6. A huge chunk of income he has made derives from royalties earned by the commercial exploitation of the successful materials performed/recorded by 2Baba.

7. 2Baba did not and couldn’t have stolen “Let Somebody Love You” from Blackface. The song was released about 2 years ago. Blackface complained about his name being misspelt on the CD sleeve and we personally apologised to him.

8. Yes. Blackface contributed to the writing of the first verse of the song. The second verse was entirely 2Baba. Bridget Kelly wrote her verse and Efe Omorogbe wrote the outro verse.

9. Efe Omorogbe is not 2Baba’s manager on “Let Somebody Love You” but a co-writer.

10. The outro verse was lifted from the song “How?” written in 1997 and recorded in 1999 at Dolphin studios, Surulere. Blackface didn’t write that bit. Couldn’t have written that bit. Blackface cannot in 2016, touch Efe Omorogbe’s writing from 1997.

11. Blackface should be honoured to have shared co-writing credit with 2Baba. I am. For each and every song we have collaborated on.

12. Blackface should be grateful 2Baba recorded their co-authored materials to ensure a lifetime of royalty income for him.

12. Blackface should record and release his own version of “Let Somebody Love You” and keep 100% publishing on that version. Oops! 2Baba will still be entitled to a share.

13. Blackface is not in 2Baba’s league as a songwriter. Their post-Plantashun Boiz’ catalogs speak for themselves.

14. Blackface should go to court to seek redress if he indeed believes he has a case.

15. Blackface should know that nobody ever secured a court judgement via a twitter rant or media tour.

17. Blackface must have realised by now that the unfortunate tirade has not made “Killa” a hit. At least, not at the moment.

We grind our way to the results we seek bro. Just HARDwork. No short cuts!

– Efe Omorogbe

2FACE’S NEW THREAT TO SUE FOR DEFAMATION

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia.

Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the prestigious Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
For legal representation inquiries, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). For blog related inquiries i.e. advertising, licensing, or guest interview requests, please email (africamusiclaw@gmail.com). Thank you for visiting Africa Music Law™.

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