This morning I presented a story about The Hitmen (Zimbabwe) placing their audio tag on the song Ventilation by Cashbid. I said that this tag caused tension between Raymond Rayo Sibanda of The Hitmen and J.Dot the producer of the instrumental. The earlier post led to debates in many forums where various artistes aired their concerns on whether this was right or not right.
Amidst all this opinion, Vernon Kathemba who is a practicing lawyer in South Africa when asked to comment on the issue said had this to say, “Yes they can because they deserve a credit. Although it will be ambiguous and create the impression they Produced the song because I’m sure the tag wont say “Engineered by The Hitmen”. I dont think they need to go that far in addressing the ambiguity tho. However, it is precisely because of situations like this that actual written credits are necessary in accompanying releases so there is no uncertainty as to who did what.” (This was on Facebook, post has been modified to remove shortcuts like bcoz, message has been maintained)
Vernon is known for his impartial opinions in hip-hop. He happens to also be involved in the music business [You Can Get His Stuff Here] so he undoubtedly know the laws that surround that area.
“This could have all been avoided by putting out proper written credits for the single. The problem is in the digital age the culture of reading CD/album sleeves and liner notes so you understand the importance of proper crediting is dying. Thats actually the bigger issue and the real cause of the problem.” He went on to say after I asked if it was ethical.
Other producers like Youngnash and Xndr, said it was not right to do so except in the meta tags. Of course these opinions are based on ethics and not actual law since the Lawyers have spoken.
Let’s Look At The Ethics
While it may be legal for me to wear anything I want, it is unethical for me to go and pay lobola at my girls house in baggy jeans and doo-rags (especially if her folks believe it’s wrong). Sometimes what is legally right is not necessarily ethical and producers should understand that it’s relations that matter in business. This serves as a lesson that if one is to mix a track if they feel like tagging the song, they should consult what the other beatmaker feels about it. Not because the law obliges them, but because of ethics.
People and fans do not really care about the legality of things. Let’s keep playing this game well.