Liberia: First Lady Risks Prosecution for Alleged Violation of Intellectual Property Right
Monrovia – Vateran Liberian musician Zack Roberts has threatened legal action against First Lady Clar Marie Weah’s Foundation and other institutions for alleged violation of his intellectual property rights.
Roberts, well known for his 1980 hits, is contempleting the suit through his legal counsel, Cllr. Finley Y. Karngar.
Speaking at a press conference in Monrovia on Wednesday, Cllr. Karngar said: “Mr. Roberts have contacted Madam Clar Weah’s office and she has rejected or reneged to have the slightest respect for the intellectual property right of Mr. Roberts.”
Cllr. Karngar said Roberts’ intellectual property right has been allegedly violated over the last months by the She’s You Movement – a component of First Lady Clar Marie Weah Foundation’s programs.
He also named the USAID West African Biodiversity & Climate Change Program in collaboration with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Partners in Development (PAVED) and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) as institutions that will face legal action.
He said the above named institutions have over the last months allegedly distributed his client’s songs, which includes ‘Sweet Liberia’ and ‘Keep on Trying’ without his knowledge to the public through their programs.
“Over the last few months, Mr. Robert informed us, that USAID West African Biodiversity & Climate Change Program in collaboration with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Partners in Development (PAVED) and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and Madam Clar Marie Weah – SHE’S YOU MOVEMENT – have misappropriated his property rights.”
Cllr. Karngar continued: “These institutions jointly and severally created derivatives works; they are now broadcasting the work to the public through various media outlets without been licensed. Because of this, Mr. Roberts have done all within his power for these organizations to secure license agreement with him for these songs, but they have rejected such efforts to have this matter resolved.”
Cllr. Karngar further explained that Intellectual property right is guaranteed by the Liberian Constitution and other international treaties to which Liberia is a signatory.
“Mr. Roberts has done all within his power for these organizations including the First Lady Clar Marie Weah to secure license agreement with him for the use of his songs, but they have rejected all effort to have this matter resolved without further process,” he said.
“Despite engaging them, they continue their wanton and recklessly disregard for his property right, which is jealously guarded by the Constitutional, International treaties to which Liberia and the US are members.”
Cllr. Karngar urged the institutions to desist from further broadcasting of his client’s songs or secure license for the use of the songs, emphasizing “otherwise, he will have no alternative but to seek legal means in protecting his property rights”.
When contacted, the spokesperson in the office of the First Lady, Arthur Douglas confirmed receiving a communication from Zack Roberts. He could not deny nor confirm the allegation against the First Lady.
“We were in the process of arranging an audience, we have not refused to grant Zack Roberts audience and to discuss the issue he has raised. We have not refused, we were at a point of arranging a meeting,” Douglas said.
“Yes, it true that Zack Roberts sent a communication to the office alleging that we used his songs in some our promos for the She’s You Movement. For us, it was an issue that he raised and honestly we needed to have a sit-down to understand exactly what he was talking about and how we can look into it.”
“That letter was received, and Mr. Zack Roberts was called, there was a conversation between he and a senior person in the office. So, they spoke with him and said we really want to discuss with you on this issue that you are raising. We are not refusing, we are open to discuss that with you.”
All effort to contact the other institutions by this paper could not materialize.