Umoja song rights battle resumes
THE five-year-old court battle over ownership of songs used in the musical Umoja resumes in the Johannesburg High Court today.
THE five-year-old court battle involves Ladysmith Black Mambazo lead singer Joseph Shabalala.
Umoja producer and director of Sting Music Joe Theron is accused of violating copyright laws by including the songs Thula Baba, Nomathemba and Siliwelile in Umoja, which has been touring locally and internationally for years since 1999.
Theron's argument is that the songs are African pieces with no known composers.
Theron told Sowetan yesterday that Gallo initially demanded 8% of the Umoja box-office takings.
"Gallo has no right to these songs and we have done our own renditions of them. They will do whatever it takes to stall the case but I will take them on," said Theron. He said Thula Baba and Siliwelile were still being used in Umoja.
According to Shabalala's lawyer Bernard Hotz, the singer registered Nomathemba in 1973 and undersigned his rights to Gallo Music Publishing Company.
Thula Baba, which Hotz claims was composed by Bertha Egnos, Eddie Domingo and Basil Gray, was registered and undersigned to the same company in 1963. Hotz said Siliwelile was composed by Mthunzi Namba, Lindelani Mkhize and Jabu Hlongwane and was assigned to Sony Music.
Following the release of Umoja - The Spirit of Togetherness DVD in 2005 which featured the songs in question, aggrieved publishers alerted show promoters around the world that they had not granted the necessary licence for Theron to perform Umoja or use any of their material. An agreement was reached in 2006.
The case resumes with a special plea that will focus on the 2006 agreement of settlement in which Theron acknowledged that Thula Baba and Nomathemba were original compositions and that copyright of the songs vests in Gallo.
In the agreement, which Sowetan has seen, Theron was ordered to pay R20,000 and a further R44,000 for royalties for including the two songs on the Umoja DVD.
But he later changed his mind, declaring the songs to be traditional songs.