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Gallo in court battle to protect SA music

2012-05-18 15:10
Cape Town - Record label Gallo Music has taken Sting Music to court for alleged copyright infringement on three songs that were recorded and performed on tour by music theatre group Umoja.

According to Gallo Music the disputed songs include Thula Baba (Hush baby), Unomathemba and Siliwelile.

The record label claims that their case, which is currently being heard in the Johannesburg High Court, is an effort to protect the rights of musicians like Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo fame.

Pay royalties

"Gallo Music Publishers is merely defending the rights of the composers whose works are being staged by Sting Music, who not only refuse to acknowledge the validity of the copyright in these works, but also refuse to pay royalties to the composers," they said in a press release statement.

Sting Music disputed the allegations and claimed before the court that the songs were traditional songs sung by black South Africans over many years.

The Star newspaper reported that Sting Music brought music legend Abigail Khubeka as a witness for their case.
Khubeka told the court: "It (Thula Baba) was a household song… a lullaby that you'd sing at home when you send a baby to sleep."

"It is not something I acquired. I was born into it. I didn't go to school for it. Its part of my inheritance… it is in my genes," she added.

No traditional version

Gallo Music won a previous ruling against Belgian crooner Helmut Lotti when a Belgian court found he had unlawfully reproduced the song Thula Baba.

According to the Belgian court there was no "traditional" version of the song.

Questioned in the Johannesburg court Abigail Khubeka refuted the claims that the song was sang to a different tune than the original.

"Then you don't know African music. That is African. I swear to God, you don't know. You don't know how powerful Africans are musically... even the Americans copy us," The Star reported her saying.

The South African Constitution under section 39(c) states that courts may consider foreign law when making a decision.

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