Between Sammie Okposo, Canaan Nyathi & Intellectual Property Infringement – What Is The ‘Christian Thing’ To Do?

Award winning international Gospel music minister Sammie Okposo has accused South African Gospel artiste Canaan Nyathi of intellectual property theft after the former took Sammie Okposo’s 2017 hit release “A Marvelous Thing”, recorded and released his on his new album. He further went ahead to perform the song without the permission of the property owner.

Sammie Okposo made the unofficial case, which has been ongoing since November 2019, public today, after Canaan Nyathi was seen performing “A Marvelous Thing” to an excited audience at his live DVD concert in South Africa.

In the post backed by the performance clip of Canaan Nyathi, and titled “Intellectual Property Theft”, Sammie Okposo wrote:

“This south African Gospel artiste that goes by the name Caanan Nyathi in this video clip is an intellectual property thief he recorded my song “A Marvelous Thing” at his live DVD concert in South in 2019 he went around telling people the song is a public domain song and he rewrote and remixed it.

“My management contacted him and told him clearly not to include my song in his album and DVD project without permission as that will mean him infringing on my intellectual property
instead of him to do the right thing and go through the process of getting the necessary permission/paper work from my publisher he started sending a Pastor friend of mine from South Africa to talk to me.

“I told the pastor that he will eventually get the permission to release the song but he must go through the proper process with my management and publisher to secure the permission this has been going on since 2019 I left the matter in the capable hands of my publisher @eminigeria who has been communicating with him. I’m putting this out here now cos this south African Gospel artiste has ignored the conditions my publisher gave him and he has gone ahead to release my song “A Marvelous Thing” without permission.

“This is how people just deliberately do the wrong thing and expect to get away with it all in the name of “fellow brother in Christ.”

All my albums and released singles are published and protected globally by @bmi so this matter will not be treated with kid gloves at all. This South African Gospel artiste will face the FULL legal consequences of his action.”

In response to the direct accusation, Canaan Nyathi said he reached out to Sammie Okposo concerning the said song after it was mentioned to him by a Nigerian. He said he was given a wrong title and could not ascertain the owner of the song at the time, till Sammie Okposo’s management team reached out to him.

The song was given to me by a young man from Nigeria or Congo with a title “Jehovah Don Do Me Something” and he said to me ‘it’s one of the Nigeria public song they sing at church.’ then I was busy checking “Jehovah Don Do Me Something” publisher online didn’t find coz I didn’t know the title “A Marvelous Thing” that is how I thought surely the boy gave me a Nigerian public song.

“Then soon about 2 days after my recording, Sammie’s publisher contacted me saying the song belongs to Samie and the title is “A Marvelous Thing” and I sincerely apologized to them and told them I didn’t know. I started begging them to allow me release the song I’m willing to give them full credits, royalties and everything about the song coz the song is at the opening of the DVD.

From November 2019, I never did anything [or even posted] the release of my album bcoz I wanted to find a way to beg these guys and Sammie, then I went to my pastor I know from Nigeria to see if he can speak to Sammie – Pastor Felix of House of Treasure SA, he spoke to Sammie and he said he will only agree to allow me to release the Song bcoz of Pastor Felix but his management will do final confirmation, I waited January nothing happened then I Whatsapp Sammie directly begging him. Sammie Reponded and said “I will allow you to use my song only bcoz of Pastor Felex. He said my management will tell you to release then he said “dont talk to me again, then he blocked me

.”

Canaan Nyathi went further to state how Sammie’s management contacted him on the 3rd of April after the album was released with “A Marvelous Thing” included. He was asked to pay $10,000 or face the consequences of infringing on Sammie Okposo’s intellectual property.

Our View:

Recording or performing another songwriter/artiste song is not the problem. There is a workable system that allows for this in the creative art industry. However, doing this can… and will never be in the terms of the person using the creative content. It has always been to protect the right of the content creator. This does not mean that it will undermine the effort of the content user.

From the response of South African Gospel artiste Canaan Nyathi, you can see the deficiencies caused by the lack of recognizing the fact that the ministry is also a business – especially the music aspect of the ministry. This kind of mindset as displayed in the response of Canaan Nyathi appeals to the human emotion than it does to reason and rationale. It tries to arouse sentiments and forsake logic. At the end, a system by which a body functions is destabilized and becomes unprofitable to all.

You cannot use someone’s song before their prior knowledge of its usage, then “beg” while stating your own terms and think everything will be alright. There are bodies set up to regulate these things and even if Sammie decides to go by your terms, should it not be properly documented before you go ahead to release?

This brings us to the second point. Canaan Nyathi also stated that having waited from November 2019 to April 2020, and got no response from Sammie Okposo, he went ahead and released the work.

Wait, do you sense some impatience and irrational thinking here? You could have removed the song from your album since you didn’t get any response, then go ahead and released your album and everything will be just fine. Inspiration for writing and recording songs should not be that difficult for a creative artiste that you have to latch on to another person’s intellectual property so tightly like it is your only hope of doing something meaningful. If this is the case, such an artiste had better rethink his career path.

If you cannot build on a land just because the owner of the land who promised to sell you the land is delaying in the process of documentation, then you cannot release a work simply because the writer/publisher delayed the process of documentation. The best you can do is discard the song and move on!

Moreover, Canaan Nyathi said that having been introduced to the public domain song titled “Jehovah Done Do Me Something” by a young man, he searched on Google and couldn’t get hold of the original owner of the intellectual property. What? Are you serious? With a simple search using the keywords “Jehovah Don Do Me Something”, you will immediately get suggestion by Google adding “by Sammie Okposo” to the keywords. This looks more like negligence of due process, probably aided by difference in geographical location. An average internet user should know however that it does not take much to go round the world.

Lastly, because of this very wrong move by South African Gospel singer Canaan Nyathi, some are of the opinion that Sammie Okposo should do th “Christian thing” and let it slide.

The question is – What is the Christian thing to do? Keep quiet and keep pampering chaos till the whole system fail? Begging to differ, let it be stated here that Christianity is not some lukewarm-trash-taking, failure-indulging way of life. Actually Christianity confronts for reconciliation. Therefore, the idea of condoning failure and wrongs is not Christianity, however, just like Jesus, the watchword is that everything should he done in love… sometimes that means tough love!

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