Local artistes react to Kayirebwa court ruling

A section of local artistes have weighed in on the outcome of the court case that saw one of their colleagues awarded compensation for infringement on copyright law, saying the suit was uncalled for.
Kayirebwa has stirred the local music industry with a suit. The New Times/File.
Kayirebwa has stirred the local music industry with a suit. The New Times/File.

A section of local artistes have weighed in on the outcome of the court case that saw one of their colleagues awarded compensation for infringement on copyright law, saying the suit was uncalled for.

The verdict, last week, awarded Rwf8m to Belgium-based artiste, Cécile Kayirebwa, who had dragged a number of local radio stations to court for playing her songs without her consent.

State-owned Radio Rwanda and Rwanda Television, under parent company, The Rwanda Bureau of Broadcasting (Orinfor), were among the losers in the case.

However, local artistes have termed the lawsuit unnecessary, saying in the Rwandan context, the two parties–media and musicians—complement each other.

Local RnB artiste James Ruhumuriza alias King James said Kayirebwa’s action does not represent the views of Rwandan artistes.

“If radio stations had not played my songs, I would not have been who I am now,” King James, who last year won the Primus Guma Guma Superstar award, said. 

Other artistes said Kayirebwa, who has for decades lived in Belgium, did not understand the Rwandan context, which they say is different from Europe where artistes get royalties for their patent.

“When we start asking every radio to pay for playing our songs, we stand to lose,” Patience said. “She [Kayirebwa] doesn’t know how may years it took those western countries to reach that level.”

Jean d’Arc Butera, a.k.a, Knowless, said she cannot go to court over radios playing her songs.

However, Adolphe Bagabo a.k.a, Kamichi, said it would be good if royalty was paid to artistes.

“If we do so, our music industry will grow where artistes will be able to get money out of their songs as they spend most of their time singing with little return. Now there should be contracts between singers and radio managers,” he said.

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