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Muscat Daily - - NATION - Riyadh Ab­dul Aziz Riyadh Ab­dul Aziz is a blog­ger in­ter­ested in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the web and so­ci­ety. You can email Riyadh at riyadh.aziz@apex­me­dia.co.om

COPY­RIGHT IM­PLI­CA­TIONS OF THE OMANI DES­PAC­ITO

The Omani ver­sion of Des­pac­ito has be­come an in­ter­na­tional vi­ral hit ac­cu­mu­lat­ing over 2,000,000 views on YouTube within about a week of its re­lease, yet the cre­ation of this kind of artis­tic work is ac­tu­ally pro­hib­ited by the Omani copy­right law.

There is no doubt that cre­at­ing the Omani De

spac­ito in­volved a lot of orig­i­nal cre­ative work, from the idea and the lyrics, to the ac­tual per­for­mance and video pro­duc­tion. How­ever, this work would not have been pop­u­lar, and would not have been cre­ated at all, if it was not for the orig­i­nal Des­pac­ito. The cre­ators of the Omani ver­sion of Des­pac­ito ob­vi­ously did not ac­quire the per­mis­sion of the rights-hold­ers of the orig­i­nal song nor did they pay any roy­al­ties for copy­ing their mu­sic.

Un­der the Omani copy­right law, it does not mat­ter that the Omani ver­sion of Des­pac­ito did not harm the com­mer­cial in­ter­ests of the orig­i­nal song, that the Omani song is not be­ing sold for profit, or that its cre­ators did not claim that they came up with the tune. The Omani Des­pac­ito is in vi­o­la­tion of copy­right as long as per­mis­sion of the rights-holder of the orig­i­nal song has not been ac­quired.

The fact that the Omani copy­right law makes the cre­ation of par­o­dies and other trans­for­ma­tive uses il­le­gal is not nec­es­sar­ily the right pol­icy to have, be­cause the ob­jec­tive of copy­right law should be to en­cour­age creativ­ity to the ben­e­fit of so­ci­ety. Ac­quir­ing per­mis­sion from the right­sh­old­ers who is a ma­jor com­pany in the United States or Europe is prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble to a young Omani artiste with no fi­nan­cial re­sources, and even if it was pos­si­ble for young Omani artistes to iden­tify and con­tact the rights-holder, a big pro­duc­tion com­pany will not have the in-

cen­tive to ne­go­ti­ate a very small deal with in­di­vid­ual cre­ators.

The cre­ation a par­ody such as the Omani Des­pac­ito also does not harm the com­mer­cial suc­cess of the orig­i­nal song, and this par­ody can be seen as a medium for ex­er­cis­ing the right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion be­cause it is writ­ten to ad­dress a so­cial con­cern. There­fore, it is dif­fi­cult to jus­tify the re­stric­tions that copy­right law im­poses on this cre­ative ac­tiv­ity.

These is­sues have been taken into con­sid­er­a­tion by many coun­tries around the world and con­se­quently many copy­right laws now al­low the cre­ation of par­o­dies with­out the need to ac­quire the per­mis­sion of the au­thor. For ex­am­ple, in the United King­dom, the copy­right law ex­plic­itly pro­vides that par­o­dies can be cre­ated with­out the need to seek the per­mis­sion of the orig­i­nal au­thor. Sim­i­larly, in the United States, the courts have held that par­o­dies do not vi­o­late copy­right be­cause they can be con­sid­ered fair use un­der the Amer­i­can copy­right law.

The Omani copy­right law does not pro­vide an ex­cep­tion sim­i­lar to the one found in the United King­dom to al­low par­o­dies with­out per­mis­sion and does not have a fair use prin­ci­ple sim­i­lar to the one found in the United States, which means that the Omani Des­pac­ito vi­o­lates the copy­right law in Oman.

Even though the il­le­gal sta­tus in Oman of the Omani Des­pac­ito is un­likely to have any im­pact on the avail­abil­ity of the song on the In­ter­net, the Omani law is still rel­e­vant to Omani artistes that want to be­come pro­fes­sional cre­ators and want to make a liv­ing out of their work lo­cally. The Omani copy­right law must be re­con­sid­ered to en­cour­age creativ­ity in­stead of crim­i­nal­is­ing it.

The views and opin­ions ex­pressed in this col­umn are solely those of the au­thor and do not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent those of Muscat Daily or Apex Press & Pub­lish­ing

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