Music publishing is a vital aspect of the music business, which is in need although complex in Cameroon is regulated by Law No.2000/011 of 19th December 2000 on copyright and neighboring rights.

The Cameroon music industry needs adequate publishing firms to step up its game. The laws have been enacted in regards but faced with the problems of proper implementation.

In Music Publishing, a publishing contract is what binds a copyright owner and a music publisher. This involves a copyright owner and a music publisher engagement through a publishing contract.

Section 42 of the Law on Copyright & neighboring rights defines a publishing contract as an agreement by which the copyright holder authorizes a person called a publisher, under defined conditions to ensure the license, publication and distribution of their musical composition for financial benefits.

*Who then is a copyright owner of a musical Composition?

Copyright holding in Cameroon is regulated by the Bangui Accord as amended 2002 on Intellectual Property Right.

A copyright owner of a musical composition in Cameroon shall be an individual(a performing artist) or a musical corporate body who officially have registered their musical composition with the competent authority in Charge of copyright and intellectual property in Cameroon.

Musical compositions without copyright protection are deemed to have no legal protection at law.

Neneng Yanick Barrister and Solicitor at Kitang and Co Law firm

In Cameroon, the African Intellectual Property Organisation is the main regulatory body responsible for the protection of copyright of musical composition, tradenames and marks of individuals and recording companies.

*Who is a music publisher in Cameroon?

In Cameroon, a music publisher can be an individual or a corporate body duly authorised by the ministry of Commerce to carryout such activities per the law.

The music publisher responsibility is to ensure the copyright owner music is properly published and payments received of their musical compositions.

*The Role of Copyright owners in Music Publishing in Cameroon per the law on Copyright and neighboring rights of Cameroon;

  • The copyright holder is to ensure their intellectual property rights of their musical composition is legal protected before engaging in any publishing contract.
  • Give the music publisher peaceful and exclusive grant through a publishing contract to distribute their music for commercial and financial benefits.
  • Permit the publisher to fulfil their obligations within the time frame as stated in the publishing contract.

*Role of Music Publisher in Music Publishing in Cameroon per the law on Copyright and Neighboring rights;

  • Ensure the publication is done under the conditions as expressed and agreed in the publishing contract.
  • Make no alterations on the publishing contracts unless discussed, and a written authorization issued sameby the copyright owner.
  • Ensure each copy of the musical composition to be published bears the name and trademark of the copyright owner, unless otherwise agreed upon by both parties.
  • Provide copyright owner with all evidence as to the exactness of their accounts regarding their musical composition published.
  • Produce and provide a yearly statement indicating the distribution and sale of records of musical compositions of copyright owners.
  • Have no right to engage or transfer the benefits of the publishing contract to a third party without the copyright owner consent.

*Termination of Music Publishing Contracts.

The law on copyright and neighboring right of Cameroon provides instances where music publishing contract can be terminated such as;

  • Where the music publisher has completed their work within the time frame as specified by the publishing contract. The contract will be deemed terminated.
  • In exceptional circumstances, the law provides, where a publisher or copyright owner fails to execute their obligations as per the publishing contract and law, the contract can be terminated.

*What should not constitute a publishing contract.

Partnership contracts and hiring of the music publisher is different from a publishing contract and shall not suffice in any circumstance as a publishing contract.

*Disputes in Music Publishing in Cameroon

Dispute outcomes shall results in;

  • Penalties of imprisonment of from 6 months and above depending on the gravity of the offence.
  • Penalties of fines of from 500.000 Fcfa to 3MFCFA depending on the gravity of the offence.
  • Suspension and confiscation of musical composition of copyright owners.
  • Suspension or banned of exercise of music publishing activities on the music publisher.