The Charambas Accuse Jah Signal of Copyright Infringement

Zimdancehall Artist's Renditions of Charamba Songs Spark Legal Action

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe
Charambas Jah Signal copyright

Charles and Olivia Charamba, the beloved gospel musical duo from Zimbabwe, have leveled accusations of copyright infringement against Zimdancehall artist Jah Signal. The dispute centers around two songs released by Jah Signal, which the Charambas claim are unauthorized renditions of their original pieces.

The controversy first emerged with Jah Signal’s 2018 release of “Shinga Muroora,” a track that the Charambas assert closely mirrors their 2001 gospel song “Kana Vanhu Vangu.” The situation escalated when, in September 2023, Jah Signal released “Tengai Mafuta,” a song that bears striking similarities to “Tengai Mafuta” by Mai Charamba, further deepening the rift between the two parties.

According to a statement from the Charambas, the issue began when Jah Signal’s management sent them a WhatsApp message seeking permission to release “Shinga Muroora.” After reviewing the song, the Charambas expressed concerns over the transformation of the original gospel lyrics into romantic verses, a change they deemed blasphemous and mocking. Despite their refusal and explicit denial of copyright permission through a text response, Jah Signal proceeded to release the song, prompting the Charambas to accuse him of a “very clear infringement of copyright laws.”

The dispute reached a climax when YouTube removed Jah Signal’s video for “Shinga Muroora” following a copyright violation claim filed by the Charambas. This legal action underscores the complexities and sensitivities involved in music copyright, particularly when it comes to altering the lyrical content and meaning of gospel songs.

In their statement, the Charambas clarified that their response to the infringement was not born out of malice towards Jah Signal but rather as a necessary step to protect their copyright. They expressed regret that some fans might not fully understand the intricacies of copyright law, emphasizing their hope for greater awareness and understanding in the future.

Despite the legal contention, the Charambas extended a message of goodwill towards Jah Signal, stating, “We pray for success for Jah Signal and in his career. We love him wholeheartedly.” This gesture highlights the Charambas’ desire to resolve the copyright dispute amicably while safeguarding the integrity of their gospel music.

The copyright infringement claim by the Charambas against Jah Signal has sparked a broader conversation on the protection of intellectual property rights within Zimbabwe’s music industry. It serves as a cautionary tale for artists across genres to navigate copyright laws carefully and respect the original works of fellow musicians.

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