Ghana’s Copyright Legislation To Get Folklore Hampers Cultural Expansion

Ghana's Copyright Legislation To Get Folklore Hampers Cultural Expansion

Ghana includes a rich folkloric tradition which includes Adinkra symbols, Kente fabric, traditional festivals, storytelling and music. Ghana also has a number of the world’s most restrictive laws about the usage of its folklore.

This also implies that the laws, that will be an upgrade of a 1985 law, applies both to conventional works where the writer is unknown and fresh functions derived from folklore in which the writer is known.

It follows that functions that qualify as folkloric will not fall into the public domain and certainly will not be free to utilize.

The 1985 Act only limited usage of Ghana’s folklore by burglars. The 2005 Act expanded this to Ghanaian nationals. In principle, it follows that a Ghanaian artist wanting to utilize Ananse stories, or even a musician who wishes to rework old folk tunes or musical rhythms should first seek consent from the National Folklore Board and pay an undisclosed fee.

That is profoundly problematic. Following independence in 1957, many artists have explicitly and routinely drawn on Ghana’s folk customs to come up with today’s creative businesses.

The 2005 Act implies the present generation of ethnic professionals must either find consent to utilize and rework their cultural heritage, or look elsewhere for inspiration.

There’s obviously a balance to be struck between protecting and accessibility when it concerns the security of a nation’s cultural heritage.

But it’s very important to acknowledge that although Ghana’s laws seems to tip towards security at the cost of accessibility, it limits growth in the creative industries by discouraging artists by participating with their national cultural heritage.

Protection History

Ethnomusicologist and artist John Collins has noticed the evolution of this 2005 Act was partially in reaction to US singer Paul Simon’s usage of a tune taken from the tune Yaa Amponsah because of his 1990 album’The Rhythm of the Saints.

Simon credited this tune into the Ghanaian musician Jacob Sam and his group the Kumasi Trio. However, on further investigation that the Ghanaian government claimed that the tune was a work of folklore and therefore, belonged to the country.

In this, two things are apparent. Primarily, in Ghana folklore is owned by the country rather than the originating communities which predate the modern country.

Second, Jacob Sam received no recompense for Simon’s usage of this job, together with royalties owed on the job flowing back the authorities.

There are a range of issues that place Ghana besides other African nations. Many countries permit for the usage of folklore by nationals and when a fee is appropriate then it’s paid as a royalty based on earnings increased.

Consequently, whenever an artist in these nations reworks folklore but leaves no cash, then no cash is paid for this usage. If the work gets effective then the artist and also the rights holder advantage.

But in Ghana, the legislation says that payment has been paid before usage and so before any gains made. This potentially increases the price of manufacturing and so discourages use of folklore.

Another issue here is that owns the rights in federal heritage. In most states, such as Kenya, the coming communities maintain the rights for their own expressions of cultural heritage.

It follows that any ethical or monetary advantage that contributes to uses of folklore flow into the office of the president, instead of being used to encourage continued safeguarding and expansion of ethnic heritage within communities.

Protect From Exploitation

Although Ghana’s current regime might seem draconian, there are persuasive reasons why these protective measures are needed.

To provide this some context, Simon’s usage of Yaa Amponsah was just a usage of Ghana’s cultural heritage at the building of a brand new, and commercially effective, work.

More recently, there were a variety of media reports in Ghana the Ghana Folklore Board meant to sue the manufacturers of Marvel’s Black Panther for the unauthorised usage of kente fabric in a number of the characters costumes.

The Folklore Board explained these reports at a press release, stating it did not mean to sue but instead, wanted to talk attribution. Kente is specifically called a object of protection under the 2005 Act and the present proliferation of unauthorised cheap kente designs entering international markets in China presents a substantial challenge.

Attribution, in this circumstance, would make sure that cinema goers throughout the planet would correlate kente using Ghana, bringing a conventional craft into a worldwide audience.

The board faces an especially intricate challenge. It has to balance safeguarding traditional legacy with permitting creative artists area to reuse and rework components of the heritage in a manner that doesn’t increase the price or complexity of creation.

Although the danger of unfair manipulation is real, both real is the possible danger to the creative industries as well as the future growth of Ghana’s living legacy in the event the nation’s artists go from their cultural legacy.