Rwandan social media is abuzz and emotions are running high.
No, it is not the end of local football team’s Rayon Sports’ fairytale run in Africa’s premier tourney. Their chances of proceeding were very slim anyway, having lost the opening game to their Nigerian opponents, a country renown for producing Africa’s finest footballers.
What was setting the social media scene on fire was a decision by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to begin implementing a longstanding copyrights law.
Local artistes would begin to receive royalties for the use of their work, especially musicians. Radio stations and other businesses such as hotels would start sharing their revenues with the artistes.
What seems to be the origin of the uproar is that not all stakeholders were consulted to find a conclusion acceptable to all.
Radio stations particularly argue that they help popularize the artistes by playing their music, without which the latter would not get the audience necessary for their fame and fortunes.
Some are even threatening to do away with local content and only play foreign music on their radio stations.
This is surely a standoff that could be avoided and RDB has the ball in its court. If businesses turn their backs on the local musicians, it is definitely the latter that will bear the brunt of the decision.
It is true our local artistes’ copyrights have been infringed for long and it is time they are paid their dues for their struggles and sacrifices. But it should be done in a manner that will not disrupt their development.
RDB could have started by first going against piracy which is still a threat to local music. The finer points of the law could then be fine tuned by bringing everyone on board.