Entertainment lawyer Raphael Irenen has stated that viral police officer Helen Utabor isn’t legally entitled to earnings from Afrobeats sensation Asake. Utabor gained fame after a video of her went viral in 2022 when a driver zoomed off with her in distress.
I Go Save, a popular comedian, disclosed that Utabor was injured in an accident while directing traffic in Edo and sought help on her behalf. Asake, in response, reportedly gave her N5 million for medical care, leading to a debate about royalties owed to Utabor for her voice in Asake’s song “Peace be unto you.”
Irenen clarified that Nigerian copyright law recognizes six categories of works: writing, painting, music, broadcasting, sound recording, and audiovisual activities. He suggested that the viral video falls under audiovisual production.
When questioned about royalties owed to Utabor, Irenen asserted that, according to the law, Asake is not obliged to provide them to her.
“Copyright in an audio-visual work goes to the author. Copyright generally under the Nigeria Copyright Act goes to the author. That is Section 28 of the Nigeria Copyright Act.
“The video itself comprises the woman’s voice. It is quite reasonable to expect that people would advocate that she be compensated. But it doesn’t work that way.”
“The video was a spontaneous activity. If there was an agreement that stated the lady (Utaboh) would be entitled to something, royalties or she has certain ownership over the said video, that would have been different. But there was no agreement to that effect. The young man took out his phone and started recording”.
He added; “If you remove the lady’s voice, you make it a stand-alone item. Asake only used her voice alone. He did not use the video.”
In a tweet via his account, Irenen explained; “She is not entitled to any royalty accruing from the song. Though her voice was used/sampled in the record, she is not the owner of the video, from which her voice was expunged and used for the said song. Recall that a video was made where she was seen shouting ‘Epp me.’”