Legal Drama, Music Business

Moe Musa v. Osagie Alonge: Osagie, You are Out of Line. Who are you Calling a “CreativeThief”? ‘Skelewu’ Video is NOT based on LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock!’

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I read Thenetng.net Osagie Alonge’s writeup titled: “Davido – The new ‘Skelewu’ video sucks + director Moe Musa is a creative thief;” where he directly called Moe Musa a thief and believed LMFAO should file a suit against him. I also read Moe Musa’s response and I agreed with Moe Musa that  Osagie was out of line and frankly; short of concern for legal liability both against him personally and TheNetng.net, should really apologize (privately and only between Moe Musa and Osagie, not the world abeg folks), for his unwarranted personal attack. It really was out of line and uncalled for.

Folks, usually, when there are allegations of copyright infringement, the wronged/injured artist is the one claiming the infringement, and the journalist, bloggers and media, in general, do the  reporting, quote the appropriate experts, and provide the analysis/commentary if they have the requisite expertise to do so. To the degree the media takes on the role of revealing similarities in a body of work between two artists, they certainly don’t go calling, on their own initiative on a legal matter, another artist “creative thief.” That in fact borders on defamation of character and absent a showing, in a court of law, that indeed the work is infringed, I am unsure that a journalist friendly country like the USA, would even exonerate such journalist from repercussions for such actions.

Osagie sounded like he was targeting Moe Musa and had an axe to grind with him. It may very well not be the case.

I do know with  my writings, while am yet to meet 99.99% of the people whose legal issues in mainstream pop culture I address, a handful have reached out to me because they believe my writings was/is targeted at them. Overtime, as they follow my work, they realize I don’t have the time or interest in what they do beyond the scope of discussing the legal issues prevalent in their legal dramas available in mainstream; and how it directly affects my local and international community, particularly Africa’s creative industries. AML is about empowering the artists and the creative entrepreneur community, heavy emphasis on artists.

Indeed, but for the fact that I feel compelled to share my industry experience and legal knowledge as my way of contributing to my community, there is no way I would put myself through the demands of blogging which complicates an already busy personal and professional life.

Nevertheless, in my reading of Osagie’s work, it just seemed like he had a personal and displaced anger towards Moe Musa.  I really don’t know what’s going on but the article lacked the objectivity/deference I have come to expect from Osagie.

However, I am thinking we all have our days. So, hopefully Moe Musa and the rest of the creative community cut him some slack and let’s hope this is all a learning experience and we all can/and should do better next time.

I will address a few things really quickly on the copyright infringement allegation as this issue while relevant is not worth spending too much time on:

What exactly is Osagie claiming is copied? Not the dance moves, which by the way are copyright protected, at least under US law and arguably also UK and Nigeria.  He also is not claiming the sound recording is at issue, nor the lyrics/composition. All of the aforementioned are owned by HKN. The finished video, pursuant to the agreement Moe Musa probably signed with HKN, should also belong to HKN.

So, what exactly is the infringement allegation? Osagie argues that the concept/theme of the music video is similar to LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock.’ Therefore, Moe Musa copied LMFAO.

He goes through both music videos and even does some screen captures of certain portions of the music video.

Folks, it is not enough to say, “Your video sucks and you are a creative thief because your video looks like LMFAO, so there is copyright infringement.” The analysis goes beyond that both under UK, US and Nigerian copyright laws.

I will focus here on US law especially since Davido, owner of HKN which ultimately owns the video, is a US citizen from what I understand; and the alleged infringed work is that of a US music group LMFAO.

First, folks, you’ve got to show that the work that is allegedly infringed is protected by copyright law. This involves a three part test. Further, how does Osagie know that the concept used by LMFAO is in fact their own? There are many questions but for brevity sake, let’s keep it short and sweet.

Second, once a Plaintiff shows that work is copyright protected, they must show under US law that the work was actually copied by the infringer. You show this through “access” by infringer and that the works used or parts of it are “substantially similar.” Here, Moe Musa has already denied “access”  and “substantial similarity” and cited other sources for his inspiration, which is not hard to believe since indeed, there is nothing new under the sun. Further, just because there are similarities in the videos does not mean there is always copying. This analysis involve several factors (that we simply don’t have the time for).

Third, if you can show that the work is indeed copied, the person you call “creative thief” has the absolute right to defend themselves and use the defense of “fair use.”

For fair use, the courts will look at four main factors:

a) The purpose and character of the use;

b) the nature of the copyrighted work;

c) the amount and substantiality of the portion that was used;

d) and finally the effect of the use on the market place for the copyrighted work.

I will not go through all factors. I don’t have that kind of luxury/time right now. Let me focus in on point a) as it is highly relevant here.

First, the Skelewu video is not a substitute for the original work of LMFAO, even if it can be argued that LMFAO ‘Party rock’ concept is an original work. Second, Skelewu video, from what I can see, “adds” its own element and “something new” to this alleged infringed work and “creates a new expression, meaning or message” which is what the law would look for, to declare this work to be a new work or “transformative” work.

Skelewu and Party Rock have two different audiences, different meanings, different cultural implications, different characters and the list goes on.

Again, I don’t know what Osagie was thinking. But, it is wise to let the artists and the lawyers that represent them sort issues like these out.

Focus on reporting and avoid the very personal attacks because it not only looks bad on the great body of work you have created over time, and the company you represent; but it also makes you lose credibility and opens you up to liability, especially one for defamation.

This, by no means, should be confused with being direct, conducting aggressive investigative journalism and what have you. That is your job and timidness, to me, is not necessarily part of that equation.

Alright. Check the videos and links out folks below.

Folks check out Osagie Alonge’s article link here.

Can’t we ALL get along?

Cheers,

Uduak

Below is Moe Musa’s response.

1st the vidoe was inspired by 28 days later which also inspired party Rockers.

To put is very blunt Mr there is no idea new under the sun and any video you see is inspired by something my friend.

With regards to being a “creative theif” as you put very cheap and vindictive headline by the way. I guess that makes every single video Director in Nigeria thief becauase i can compile you a list of videos on Nigerian Tv by Accailamed Nigerian Directors that fit that profile and that would make everybody a Thief is that what you are implying?

Bluured Lines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Ayoola ft Phyno: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Alingo VS NEYO

The bloddy list goes on………

Get your Facts right. I respect your boss Mr Ayeni The Great and all he represents but this is cheap and sounds very sponsored to me.

PS: cant be bothered with all the typo so have it.

Many thanks

Tunde Babalola

VIDEO PRODUCER SKELEWU

LMFAO ‘Party Rock’

Davido ‘Skelewu’

Business of Music North Africa Roundtable

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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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1 Comment

  1. Osagie is too opinionated.

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