Tensions were high during the week when veteran singer, Zaaki Azzay, threatened to institute legal action against Ghanaian singer, Sarkodie, and his Nigerian counterpart, Mr Eazi, for allegedly infringing on his copyright. According to Azzay, the two artistes took lines off his 1996 song, Marry Me, and he was not pleased about it. The song at the centre of the controversy, Na You, is owned by Sarkodie, and features Mr Eazi.
Azzay had written on his Instagram page, “Hello @Sarkodie and @MrEazi, this is to let you know that my song “Marry Am” has been lifted in your newly released single “Na You”…This is a massive violation of my musical copyright dues (sic) and the illegal exploitation of my intellectual property as I haven’t been contacted for permission/approval for the lyrics of my song to be used…My next line of actions will be made private for now…”
However, in a chat with Sunday Scoop, Azzay stated that Mr Eazi had reached out to him and apologised. He said, “Mr Eazi called me yesterday night (Wednesday) and we spoke from about 1 am till 3 am. I must say that I was impressed with his level of humility and honesty because he spoke well. Firstly, he apologised and said the song is not his and he expected that Sarkodie would have done the right thing by reaching out to me before releasing the song. He was surprised that Sarkodie did not do that. He then apologised and gave me his word that he would acknowledge me on the song and also give me my due benefits. As a result of our discussion, all legal actions are on hold.”
Azzay also maintained that gone were the days when artistes treated issues of copyright infringement with levity. He stated, “In Africa, we are growing. If it were before, we probably wouldn’t see it as a big deal. But now, everybody has seen that music is a big business and nobody is ready to play with his intellectual property anymore. With the way I reacted and how people responded, it shows that people are watching and are aware of what is going on.”
On how cases of copyright infringement can be effectively tackled, Azzay said, “One of the missing links, for now, is the involvement of the Federal Government. We (musicians) cannot enforce the law on the issue of piracy on our own. I only hope that the Federal Government will take the industry more seriously because it can contribute more to the country’s GDP; even more than oil.”