Afro-IP has come across an inspiring tale of an American musician whose songs had become the fabric of South African society during the 1970s and 80s. The musician was not only oblivious to his fame and following on the African continent, his modest lifestyle and anonymity (many thought him to be dead) in his home country were in stark contrast to the iconic image he had created (and not exploited). Apparently he did not receive a single cent in royalties for the numerous record sales he had made. In fact, by all accounts he was financially very poor. Yet, after watching the short documentary by 60 Minutes, one wonders whether he (and us) are in fact richer for his experience especially if one compares him to the lifestyles and images of his contemporaries.
In a sense Rodriguez's story also contributes to the evangelism of creative commons and open access for it is an example of under exploitation (by Rodriguez anyway) and a resultant greater good that, in many ways, also elevates the individual, his image legacy and original creations. At the same time IP (copyright, reputational rights and trade marks) are extremely important as they are crucial to protecting and enhancing his legacy even beyond his lifetime, if they are used appropriately. It is an illustration, amongst many others, of why it is important to consider how IP is used and not focus on whether it should exist, if used inappropriatelty, as is so often the case in Africa.
The story also highlights why artists have such a dim view of collection societies and production companies. Rodriguez apparently did not receive a cent from his record sales as this post elaborates.
Here’s the clip to the “Sugar Man” - unfortunately with adverts - how else could content like this be worthwhile - I Wonder (sorry I could not help myself).
If the links do not work please try:
Preview: Rodriguez - 60 Minutes - CBS News http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7424316n