Not abomination – GHAMRO on taking royalties from churches
The decision by the Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO) to collect royalties from churches for performing Gospel songs was thought to be a move that would be fully embraced by players in the sector.
Instead, the announcement by the Chief Operating Officer of GHAMRO, Abraham Adjartey, last month has rather created disunity among Gospel artistes as they remain divided over the move, with some believing it is sinful.
However, Mr Adjartey has told Graphic Showbiz it is not an abomination to collect royalties from the churches.
He explained that the decision was not born out of malice or to cause disaffection between the churches and musicians, but had legal backing in Section 49 of the Copyright Law, Act 690 of 2005 and regulated under L.I. 1962 of 2010.
“It is rather interesting the opposing views we are getting from the sector, but that should not have been the case. The truth is that there’s nothing abominable or sinful about collecting royalties from the churches.
“Besides, the churches are not even against it after many engagements with them, but unfortunately it is some Gospel artistes who feel that what we intend to do is abominable. Perhaps, the gospel artistes should be enlightened about the legal functions of GHAMRO so it doesn’t look like we are witch-hunting the church or God’s people,” he said.
Some Gospel artistes, including Patience Nyarko and Eric Jeshrun, who have spoken about this matter are of the opinion that the enforcement of the law will destroy the relationship between them and the churches.
“If the churches ask Gospel artistes to stop recording or singing their songs or even ask every artiste who has commercially recorded songs belonging to them (church) to pay royalties to them, that money will be so huge that Gospel musicians cannot pay,” Patience Nyarko is reported to have said in an interview with Accra-based radio station Onua FM.
Eric Jeshrun also said he was in doubt about the appropriate approach and system GHAMRO would adopt to collect the royalties.
On the same platform, he pointed out that GHAMRO should educate and prepare the minds of the churches through the Christian Council since it had administrative problems.
However, speaking to the above issues, Mr Adjartey said GHAMRO had already engaged some of the churches and they had agreed and negotiated on the fee to be paid every year.
“Just like every organisation, I acknowledge that GHAMRO has challenges but that should not deter us from doing what the law empowers us to do. Besides, this is not the first time this conversation has come up so it should not be a subject for discussion now,” he added.
Gospel artiste Bernard Amankwah told Graphic Showbiz that it was a matter of concern that some Gospel artistes were against the collection of royalties.
“At this point, GHAMRO needs nothing more than the support of stakeholders but unfortunately, the opposite is happening. I agree with assertions that GHAMRO should have proper structuring but that should not be enough to discredit this good initiative,” he stated.