Ghana – A second version of the Ghanaian government’s copyright administration is seeking to place a tax on any commercialize use of folklore traditions. The first version fell flat last year due to the number of clauses. The new folklore royalty tax clause would force musicians to get governmental permission and pay a tax for any Ghanaian folklore tradition, song or story appearing in their music. Calls for public opinion forums will debate the issue before the bill goes before the Ghanaian parliament.The threat of fines and jail time, associated with passage of the tax, are expected to squash the use of folk songs and ancestral stories in music and other artistic forms. Some opponents of the bill expect the tax to silence the rich culture and tradition of Ghana, in favor of free use and prominence of American culture and other foreign influences.
Music is not the only target of this folkways tax. Writers, film makers, sculptors, painters and fashion designers would be subject to the strict standards of the tax. Stories told by ancestors, songs sung by mothers and grandmothers for generations and drum poetry would all be subject to taxation if the bill is passed. Litigation and confusion are expected to tie up artistic freedom in miles of Ghanaian bureaucratic tape for some time is the copyright administration gets its way.
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