Musician cries foul

A popular song commonly referred to as “Eleitino” is at the heart of a dispute about the rightful owner.

Sung by a local singer based in New Zealand, Tui Eddie Taualapini, in a duet on a television show, the popularity of the song has upset a man who claims the original belongs to his family. 

A member of the famous Golden Ali’is, Muliaga Metu Mamaia, says the song belongs to his ancestors. 

During an interview with the Sunday Samoan, Muliaga said the song dates back in the 1960s and was recorded at 2AP by the Tama Vaiala - a group he was part of. 

“It was recorded at 2AP in those days with the understanding that it will be protected by them,” said Muliaga. “Five of the groups that had their songs recorded at 2AP in the part include; The Tama Vaiala, Autalavou Vaiala, Southern Cross and Filifili Tunu…all our songs were used by 2AP in those days to play on the radio so when I heard Eddie singing Eleitino on the radio I was quite shocked.”

According to Muliaga, the song Eleitino is originally called “Filifili Auro” and it is about a girl name Elekina.

He said the song was originally written by his uncle, the late Rev. Dr Peti William Tofaeono. 

Filifili Auro, the original name of the song was written by the Minister during the time he was living at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa compound in Malua. 

According to Muliaga, his uncle was dating a girl name Elekina while he was at Malua. 

“The girl was from Vaimauga and Tofaeono was from Vaiala,” he recalled. “He was at Malua and they were in a relationship. He heard rumours about some problems about their relationship then he wrote this song.   

“On the last paragraph of the song he explains that (Tala ave ua e fulitua, ole pola motutua. Uia le ala lou alofa faamaoni.) Those lyrics is a testament of their relationship…they did not marry.”

Muliaga said the late Rev. Tofaeono became a Principal at the Malua Theological College. He was also in Fiji and later went to Pagopago where he was the Principal in a Theological College there. 

Rev. Tofaeono passed away in Pagopago in 1989 and is buried in the territory. 

 Muliaga added that it was during the time of the Tama Vaiala group that his uncle heard of their group and handed over the lyrics to them. 

“He said for us to use the song for our band and make it known and we recorded it.”

Unhappy with the way the song was used, Muliaga said he has taken his grievance to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour. 

He said an official at the Ministry told him to contact the person who used the.  “He has not responded to my emails,” he said. 

Muliaga stressed the importance of abiding by the copyright law to protect the work of others. 

“It misleads the public, this generation and the next on who is the copyright owner of the song,” said the artist. “Once songs are recorded they are copyrighted. It’s not about the money but the way it was used it’s not right and it has violated of our rights and ownership of the song.”

It was not possible to get an official comment from the Ministry of Commerce. 

However, an employee who was not authorized to speak to the media said any song can only be used by another artist 75 years after the year of death of the original artist. 

 Being in the music industry for more than 40 years, Muliaga said there are ways of going about in using other peoples work. He pointed out in the past when songs from other artists were used they had sought their approval before they could use it.

In singing the song, from the lyrics given to him by his uncle, Muliaga was emotional. 

“It’s an emotional matter for me because it was a song from my uncle and one of his relationship with her (Elekina).” 

 The lyrics and tune of both the songs are similar except for variation in the name Eleitino and Elekina. 

It was not possible to get a comment from Tui Eddie Taualapini. 

He has left for New Zealand again. 

Under the 1998 Copyright Act, Duration of Copyright 16;  

 (1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (2) to (5), the economic and moral rights shall be protected during the life of the author and for seventy five years after his death. 

(2) In the case of a work of joint authorship, the economic and moral rights shall be protected during the life of the last surviving author and for seventy five years after his death. 

(3) In the case of a collective work, other than a work of applied art, and in the case of an audiovisual work, the economic and moral rights shall be protected for seventy five years from the date of which the work was first published or, failing such an event within seventy five years from the making of the work, from its making.; Page 23 

(4) In the case of a work published anonymously or under a pseudonym, the economic and moral rights shall be protected for seventy five years from the date on which the work was first published,: Provided that PROVIDED THAT where the author identity is revealed or is no longer in doubt before the expiration of the said period, the provisions of subsection (1) or subsection (2) shall apply, as the case may be. 

(5) In the case of a work of applied art, the economic and moral rights shall be protected for twenty five years from the making of the work. (6) Every period provided for under the preceding sub-ssections shall run to the end of the calendar year in which it would otherwise expire.

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