Payment of Authors’ Rights: When Enterprises Play To The Gallery

“ Author’s Rights” is an expression describing the legally enforceable rights granted by copyright laws to authors. These rights are designed to protect the author’s relationship with their work and to allow them to authorise or prohibit its use. The existence of these rights are not only outlined in the national laws of Cameroon but are also enshrined in Article 27 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as published by the United Nations in 1948. In Cameroon, the rights are grouped into two categories, the economic and the moral rights of the author. Economic rights refers to the rights to exploit the artist’s work in any form whatever and to obtain monetary gain therefrom. These rights last during the life time of the author and 50 years after his/her death. On the other hand, the moral rights of the artist is linked to his/ her personality. These rights are perpetual, inalienable and imprescriptible and they exist as long as the work of the artist exists. In Cameroon, there has been a perpetual conflict on musical artists rights especially the economic rights of their artistic work. There has been constant accusations and counter accusations as far as the payment of authors’ rights to music artists is concerned. The artists have been on the neck of various enterprises using their artistic work in one way or the other to pay what rightfully is theirs. The most recent case is the press conference granted by syndicates of music artists in Yaounde on August 25, 2023 to denounce the nonchalance of some enterprises in the payment of authors’ rights for using their music in their commercial activities. The music associations and syndicates particularly indexed mobile telephone companies like MTN, Orange Cameroun, CAMTEL and Nexttel for owing them huge sums of money as authors’ rights dues. The outing of the musical association bodies came after several futile attempts to get the telephone companies to reason. On May 16, 2023 they addressed a letter to MTN and Orange Cameroon after that which was addressed to the operators by the Minister of Arts and Culture on September 3, 2018. According to the artists, Nexttel has since 2018 not paid a dime as authors’ rights to artists, while MTN and Orange Cameroun on their part, owe them since 2019 when they lastly paid. Going by the figures, Nexttel is topping the list of debtors with FCFA 210 million while MTN has to pay FCFA 120 million and FCFA 96 million for Orange Cameroun. CAMTEL on the other hand, is expected to pay FCFA 60 million authors’ rights to...

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