Ghanaian musician Spiky in legal showdown with CAF

BY: GraphicOnline
Ghanaian musician sues CAF

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) is being sued for copyright infringement over the use of a beat/instrumental music belonging to a Ghanaian musician in its promotional materials for the 2018 CAF awards.

Kwabena Ofei-Kwadey Nkrumah alias Spiky says the instrumental titled called “SPIKY – OKOMFO ANOKYE” was uploaded on his YouTube channel and SoundCloud with a caution that "any intended use of his music and/or beats for commercial purposes requires his prior consent".

He wants a declaration that CAF used his beat for commercial purposes without his prior consent thereby infringing on his copyright as well as an order directed at CAF to account for profit for the commercial use of same.

He is also claiming general damages for the infringement, additional damages for the flagrant and brazen nature of the infringement and costs including legal fees.

CAF has denied the allegations in their statement of defence filed by Naa Odofoley Nortey and argued that "save an apology and the pulling down of the soundtrack from its social media platforms, Spiky is not entitled to the reliefs contained in his writ of summons and statement of claim.

In a writ obtained by GraphicOnline, Spiky avers that defendants including the English & Media Officer Communications Department CAF, Kofi Addae (second defendant) and another staffer of CAF, Mohamed El Shazly (third defendant) failed to seek his prior consent to commercially use the beat/instrumental music in its promotional materials contrary to copyright laws of Ghana.

Spiky further argues that CAF despite his complaint plagiarized, appropriated and infringed his beat by not acknowledging him as the copyright owner in the said promotional materials until after the 2018 CAF awards which took place on January 8, 2019, when it took down the said infringing promotional materials.

The plaintiff further avers that after the 2018 CAF awards, he received an email dated January 15, 2019, from the second defendant on behalf of CAF with the third defendant copied, admitting the said infringement and purporting to render an apology for the unauthorized commercial use of Plaintiff’s beats/instrumental music.

"Plaintiff says that following the admission and purported apology by Defendants, Plaintiff responded to the email of paragraph 17 above, by demanding compensation for the unauthorized use of his copyrighted work but Defendants rebuffed his demand with brush silence," the writ reads.

"Plaintiff says that rather than the Defendants replying to his email, Plaintiff received information from some friends, family and acquaintances that 2nd Defendant had made derogatory and insulting remarks about Plaintiff to them. The remarks include describing Plaintiff as an ungrateful person. He was also heard to have made comments to the effect that, he, 2nd Defendant, was only trying to help Plaintiff to “get something small” from 1st Defendant, rather Plaintiff has involved his lawyers and for that reason alone, Plaintiff will get nothing from 1st Defendant.

"Plaintiff says that by a letter dated 31st January 2019, he caused his lawyers to serve a demand notice on 1st Defendant but again 1st Defendant rebuffed same with a deafening silence".

CAF defence

CAF maintains that the soundtrack which was used as background music for the artwork was pulled down within 24 hours when the plaintiff complained that his soundtrack had been used without permission.

The African football governing body adds that being a non-governmental organisation and the CAF Awards being a non-profit event, it did not obtain any pecuniary interest from uploading the soundtrack within that period.

In further denial, CAF added "that it did not use the soundtrack for commercial purposes as the CAF Awards was a non-profit event and the 1st defendant being a non-governmental, non-profit organization obtained no pecuniary interest in the less than one-day use of the soundtrack in particular and the CAF award in general".