'Firirida' hitmaker Dick Njoroge [Photo: Courtesy]

Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has issued a warning about the viral Firirida craze. In a statement, KECOBO cautioned netizens, companies and institutions against jumping in on the challenge without authorization from Firirida’s authors.

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“Make sure you are not caught on the wrong side of the law with the current Firirida craze. Get authority from the author if you want to make a derivative work of it. Jerusalema craze now haunts many. Don't blindly fall for every craze. It may lead you into trouble with the law. The law stipulates that the owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to control the distribution, reproduction and any derivative works,” read KECOBO’s statement in part.

KECOBO explained that the utilisation of the song without permission constitutes infringement. “Copyright infringement has legal consequences. Infringers may have to pay damages to the right owner, pay a fine, or even be imprisoned. Sometimes even a slight change to work without permission can be an infringement.”

This comes days after Warner, a record company that has a contract with Master KG, demanded license fees from the German government after several of its officers took part in  Jerusalema  challenge.  The challenge gained global popularity following the outbreak of Covid-19 after it was featured as a soundtrack by Angolan dancers, catapulting the Limpopo-born hitmaker, together with singer Nomcebo Zikode, to superstardom.

"We love the fact that the fans are getting behind 'Jerusalema'. But if organisations in Germany use the song to promote themselves, we think they should secure a dubbing license. In these difficult times, it is more important than ever that artists and performers are paid for their music when it is used by third parties to enhance their reputation,” a Warner spokesman told France 24.

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Speaking to Standard Entertainment & Lifestyle, Lawyer Liz Lenjo stressed that the owner of the copyright has exclusive rights. “They could make similar demands in Kenya because the law stipulates that the author or owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to control the distribution, reproduction and any derivative works. At the end of the day, one must seek a license from the owner of the works before using it,” said Lenjo.