South Africa

‘Noko Mashaba’ animation creator cries foul over content being used without consent

The creator of the popular Noko Mashaba animation series, Jonas Lekganyane, is crying foul over his content being used without his consent and the fact that whenever his content is shared, he never gets any credit for it.

In a post on the Noko Mashaba Twitter page, Lekganyane pleaded with those who have used the content without consent. But speaking to The Citizen he said the unauthorised use of his content has been happening for years now.

“Initially, it wasn’t a significant problem; given that short-format social media wasn’t a thing. However, with platforms like TikTok, content that took us weeks to produce can now be replicated, garnering thousands of views in mere hours and hindering the view count on our YouTube channel,” he said.

Lekganyane is the founder and owner of animation and multimedia studio Rams Comics, which owns Noko Mashaba series. The company was founded in 2015 with the intention of advancing African-inspired animation in international markets.

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Protecting the industry

The video that was in question is an episode from the Noko Mashaba series, titled Makhi’s Blessings. The episode sees Noko’s uncle; Malome Dons facing a dilemma as his girlfriend, Rato, seems more impressed by the neighbour’s accomplishments than his own. Determined to save his relationship, Dons takes matters into his own hands in the episode.

At the time of writing, the episode had just above 200 000 views on YouTube, still below the aforementioned number in the tweet.

Lekganyane said it’s not just TikTok users who steal the content, but a slew of people on various platforms, including those with fake accounts.

“Sharing snippets and scenes isn’t an issue for us, but the concern arises when the entire video, especially a new release, is used for other platforms and monetized,” said the Rams Comics owner.

“On YouTube, we’re aware of fan channels posting our content, but we’re not concerned as these channels can’t monetize due to YouTube’s strict copyright policies.”

Unlike YouTube which has content ID which protects the creator, there’s a paucity of regulation on social media platforms. “The only option available is reporting content as copyright infringement. TikTok shares a similar situation, and by the time they respond to the copyright claim, the damage is already done.”

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The entrepreneur-come-creative acknowledges that people will download and share their videos. But says “it becomes demoralising when they use it not just for entertainment and promotion but to grow and monetize their platforms”.

As a way of circumventing the illegal spread of their content, when asked if there’s a way of posting their videos on social media and redirecting viewers to their YouTube channel, Lekganyane maintains that, “If viewers have already seen the full video on TikTok, the incentive to visit YouTube diminishes”.

“This poses financial challenges as producing content involves significant costs, including paying a team of workers.”

Rams Comics has an array of clients who span across various industries such as education, information and entertainment.

One of their recent projects is collaboration with fast food outlet Chicken Licken. Because of this, controversial media personality Nota labelled the animation company ‘greedy’ for complaining about how their content is being used.

“You greedy suckers just got a Chicken Licken deal, lick your fingers and count your money, stop hating on Pmcafrica. You use people names for your jokes and never paid them a cent. You’re greedy and tribalistic, sies,” Nota lashed out.

Lekganyane did not want to respond to Nota’s comments. “We aren’t fighting anyone, just trying to get content creator Apps to ensure they have valid systems in place to protect those who create content for a living.”

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