‪The 13th season of Idols South Africa comes to an end this weekend where either Paxton Fielies or Mthokozisi Ndaba will clinch the title of this season’s winner. The final week sees the final two release their debut singles and while Mthokozisi’s ‘Masithandane’ seems to have gotten a fantastic response from the public so far, Paxton’s debut single ‘Demonstrate’ has had a bumpy start. The 16-year-old singer has been accused of plagiarism and it could cost her the competition.

A twitter storm erupted when Twitter user @ultboysrepubIic called the star out for not giving credit to K-Pop group Rania who sang a similar version of the song in Korean back in 2015. “The kpop girl group Rania/BP Rania released a song on November 5th, 2015 which was titled ‘Demonstrate’. Recently on the show SA Idols, the contestant Paxton performed a song titled ‘Demonstrate’ which seen below is almost completely the same as the original performed RaNia,” the user tweeted. “not only is the song being performed without credit to the original artists who sang it or the writers/composers, it is also being sold without any kind of credit. Please RT this and/or share the story to get the story out there.” Naturally, fans got wind of the comparison and Paxton was accused of plagiarism.

The Gallo Record Company quickly put fans at ease saying “Paxton’s song rights were approved by the composer & their publisher. This version is in English & has different lyrics. It was presented to us as it has never been released in English before. All approvals are in place.” DR Music, who represent Rania, took to their twitter account to deny these claims. “We checked with the composers and heard from them that they too, did not approve of anyone using the song. We are currently investigating [the issue] and checking with Paxton’s company, and we will take legal action if necessary.”

The issue seems to be not that Paxton recorded an English version of the song but that she claimed it as her own without giving credit to Rania – the group that originally recorded the Korean version of the song. In a tweet, Paxton called ‘Demonstrate’ “my song” which, although may suggest that she wrote it, sees the singer promote what is ultimately her new single – something artists like Britney Spears, Katy Perry and more have done in the past.

Now, fans believe the scandal could cost Paxton the competition. “Why does the Japanese group say that they didn’t give permission and are now taking legal action? Now people are accusing Paxton of stealing a song. It’s unfair because this jeopardizes her votes! FIX THIS!” Karabo Mokgoto tweeted. “The fans of the group that originally recorded the song were harassing and bullying Paxton since Sunday and tagging Idols fans not to vote for her because of it. I hope Idols fixes this. Paxton now has a very unfair disadvantage.” The scandal got Paxton’s twitter account suspended and now fans claim she isn’t able to campaign for votes in this crucial part of the competition.

Meanwhile, the Gallo Record Company released an statement official statement where they clarified the confusion from a legal perspective. “This is not theft. Paxton is the SINGER of the song only, she has not and does not claim to have written the song or to own the Copyright. Very few people write their own songs when it comes to Idols. There is a difference between a composer or songwriter and a performer. Even big stars like Justin Bieber perform hits written for them by others. This does not mean they have stolen the song.”

The label then went into detail explaining how the song landed up on the show. “The song was presented to Gallo by the Publishers (Razor & Tie Music Pub. & Active Music Publishing) on behalf of their clients (Aimée Proal, Phil Bentley & Brian Kierulf who are the legitimate and original composers / songwriters of the song) for Idols consideration for the Top 3 as a single, since it was a perfect fit for Paxton, and had never been previously released as an English version. An English recorded version of the song did not exist.” They added that they were “unaware that any other previous version existed, in particular a version sung and released by a Kpop band in Korean, for the Korean market. In fact, the written English demo version existed before any Korean version was adapted. Regardless of the above – Changes were done to the song and the English lyrics (by the original songwriter) for Paxton’s version.”

The label added that “The Kpop version is also in fact NOT written by the band. They are also only the performers / singers of the song and as much as they say it’s “their” song that only means they performed / sang a Korean version of it prior to Paxton’s English version and they did not write it either. It is written by the same composers and songwriters who presented the English version to Gallo and gave Gallo and Paxton their 100% approval and endorsement for Paxton to release.”

In summary, the label states that “All rights are approved. No rights infringement, no plagiarism, no theft. [The song] was given to [Paxton] to sing, presented to her label by the parties who wrote it, to release as her version in another language (with lyrics reworked into English), with the approval of the publishers, songwriters and composers, who will also get paid, by earning royalty revenue from any commercial success. Paxton is singing a re-worked song (as the original English version was written) given to her with the blessing and approval of all the rights holders. There is thus no wrong-doing.”

However, now that the copyright infringement has been cleared, Paxton’s future could be heavily affected by situation. Not only did she endure abuse from angry fans, but the saga caused her Twitter page to be suspended. Meanwhile, Mthokozisi’s ‘Masithandane’ shot to number one on iTunes and has been getting rave reviews. One thing’s for sure – Sunday night’s outcome is going to be an interesting one regardless of who wins.

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