70% of GHAMRO Members are Semi – Illiterates … as Rex Omar Calls for Proper Royalties’ Education

The Chairman of the Board of the Ghana Music Rights Organization (GHAMRO) Rex Omar, has emphasized the need for proper education on the responsibilities of GHAMRO to its members. He blamed the gap in knowledge of the purpose of GHAMRO as a challenge and also, as a fuel to growing misconceptions about GHAMRO among members and the public. He stated this while responding to a live audience on some issues such as piracy and synchronization fees at the second edition of the National Music Summit in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday 21st June 2022.

According to Rex Omar, the lack of effective communication from GHAMRO to its stakeholders has been a major set back which GHAMRO is looking forward to fixing soon. “Some of our major problem has been communication. It is not as if we did not know that we have to communicate, but it is because we did not have the money to employ professionals to help us communicate scientifically and effectively… Firstly, our members do not know (do not have adequate information), secondly, our users also do not know, and thirdly, the public also doesn’t know. And, we have members whom I can say 70% are semi – illiterates”, he said.

Rex Omar took time to erase false perceptions about the powers and duties of GHAMRO by responding to some questions and suggestions from the audience. Among the issues raised was punishment for failure to pay royalties. “The law does not give us (GHAMRO) the mandate to close down radio stations. So, when a radio station uses music (without paying) the only thing you can do is to take them to court. And, in our courts, you need to go there for 5 years before you can settle one case”, he explained.

Another question asked from the audience was on GHAMRO’s response to piracy. Rex Omar said though it was related to the subject matter of royalties, that area wasn’t a core responsibility of GHAMRO. “Anti-piracy is not the job of GHAMRO; it is the job of the Copyright Office of Ghana which is a state institution. GHAMRO’s mandate is simple, go and collect for music usage and give the monies to its rightful owners. So, GHAMRO can one way or the other help or support anti – piracy ; but it’s not our core mandate”, he explained.

Finally, the issue of synchronization fees was put to rest after Rex Omar stated how GHAMRO works with song owners to collect royalties in this area.”Yes, GHAMRO collects synchronization fees, but, in collaboration with the owner (of the song/ music). For example, what is synchronization? Somebody wants to use your music as a film soundtrack or in an advert… GHAMRO doesn’t have the right to give a ‘blanket license’ to the interested user . But, GHAMRO can contact the owner of the music and say somebody wants to use your music for a, b and c. So, how much do you want (to charge)? … So yes, we collect for our members”, he explained.

GHAMRO is a Collections Management Organization in Ghana which emerged from the Copyright Office of Ghana. Hence, the periodic confusion as to the responsibilities of GHAMRO.

By Jerry Wonder

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