‘Rapper Refilwe “Fifi Cooper” Mooketsi refused to sign a final settlement with her former record label following an alleged breach of contract, despite being “bullied” by Ambitiouz Entertainment, her confidante has said.
City Press has learnt that two weeks before the Johannesburg High Court ruled against her for breach of contract, Mooketsi had a tussle over the proposed settlement agreement with her former bosses at Ambitiouz. The court’s order means she cannot perform any of the songs she recorded while she was with Ambitiouz.
“She was being bullied into signing a final settlement and issuing a press statement, which includes saying that she wrongfully defamed Ambitiouz Entertainment and that she retracts her previous comments about not being paid [what she deserves when she was still with the label],” said a source close to the rapper.
The 26-year-old refused to sign the settlement, saying she could not sell her soul and lie to her fans. After all, she had already stated in public that she was not being paid well at Ambitiouz and that she was broke when she was with the label. This was true, the friend explained.
Mooketsi left the record label earlier this year and started her own, called MoCooper Records.
The friend argued that Mooketsi was not surprised when she heard that the high court ruled against her on Monday. She was not in court.
Ambitiouz had sought to have Mooketsi interdicted from performing any of her songs. It claimed ownership of the songs she recorded with them. The rapper was ordered to pay damages and royalties to the label and to settle the company’s legal fees.
Ambitiouz Entertainment chief executive Kgosi Mahumapelo declined to comment when City Press contacted him on Saturday.
However, City Press has seen court papers, signed by Mooketsi in July, which contained the first proposed settlement.
In the papers, she agreed to refrain from using Ambitiouz’ copyright-protected songs without its permission.
She agreed to pay Ambitiouz 50% of the revenue generated from the performance of such songs, backdated to February this year.
When approached for comment, all Mooketsi would say was that while she signed the initial document, she refused to sign the final settlement.
Her friend said that when everyone was thinking Mooketsi’s music career could be over because of the court order, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leaders Julius Malema, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Floyd Shivambu, along with 999 Music owner Arthur Mafokate, offered to fight Ambitiouz on her behalf.
“The EFF is challenging the court outcome, but what is significant is for the public to know that the battle is not over,” said Ndlozi.
Responding to the EFF’s undertaking to help her, Mooketsi said: “I did not have money to fight Ambitiouz Entertainment, who have been using a powerful law firm against me.
“I have met the EFF’s lawyers and they will file an urgent court application some time next week to try to rescind the judgment.”
Mooketsi’s friend said that amid the storm, Mooketsi’s music career was doing well.
“She is doing well financially and, for the first time, she has managed to buy herself a Mini Cooper S Convertible. She also scored herself a TV show gig on SABC1 called Break The Beat,” said the friend.
Copyright lawyer Graeme Gilfillan said the order that favoured Ambitiouz Entertainment contained statute reference errors and was likely to be overturned if challenged.
“Ignorance and omissions are present, and it is a shocking state of affairs that such judgment was contemplated.”
He said Ambitiouz did not disclose to the court that it had signed an application to become a member of the SA Music Rights Organisation and, in doing so, subject itself to the body’s Deed of Assignment of Copyright.
This meant that Ambitiouz had no basis for approaching the court claiming to own Cooper’s performing rights.
Gilfillan said the judgment reflected the difficulties often encountered when dealing with the complex field of copyright law.
“The outcome is bad law and an embarrassment to the judiciary and to the law in general,” Gilfillan said.