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June 14, 2006

Piracy hurts creators in developing countries II

 
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Here's an article from allAfrica.com about how native African artists are being harmed by piracy and lack of IP protection and enforcement.

Tiro Baikananyi, Phikwe based Pantsula artist who goes by the stage name Tyrozee, has complained about music piracy after catching a trader in Francistown selling his album, illegally.

"It was after a tip off by a fan that I was alerted and took a trip to Francistown, where I located the pirate. I pretended to be a genuine customer and asked for a 'cheap' copy of the Tyrozee album, and to my shock, he opened a trunk full of the pirated album. I disclosed my identity and ended up seizing the trunk, with the pirated material and took it home to Phikwe," he said.


Wait a minute--I thought that intellectual property protection was a barrier to economic activity in developing countries? I thought IP was a tool of capitalist imperialism, which U.S. companies use to restrict access to knowledge? I thought creators are being harmed by intellectual property protection?

I guess I've been spending too much time listening to NGO interventions at WIPO. 'Cause that's what the so-called "civil society" NGOs keep telling the delegates at WIPO.

When you actually talk to creators themselves, ESPECIALLY those in developing countries, it is clear that IP protection and enforcement is the only leverage they have to sustain themselves and their creativity--to ensure that they can continue to create.

Those who are advocating weakening or doing away with IP protection are actually harming the very people they claim to be helping. At the very least, they are hypocritical. Perhaps worse.

The economic data is unanimous: IP protection leads to economic growth and greater creativity.

Here's the entire text of the article, reproduced in case the link goes down at some point.

Local Artists Nab Pirates

Mmegi/The Reporter
(Gaborone)
NEWS
June 8, 2006
Posted to the web June 8, 2006

By Ephraim Keoreng
Selebi-Phikwe

Tiro Baikananyi, Phikwe based Pantsula artist who goes by the stage name Tyrozee, has complained about music piracy after catching a trader in Francistown selling his album, illegally.

"It was after a tip off by a fan that I was alerted and took a trip to Francistown, where I located the pirate. I pretended to be a genuine customer and asked for a 'cheap' copy of the Tyrozee album, and to my shock, he opened a trunk full of the pirated album. I disclosed my identity and ended up seizing the trunk, with the pirated material and took it home to Phikwe," he said.

Another artist, Kabelo Mogwe, lead singer of the traditional music troupe, Cultural Spears, has also complained about pirates, whom he accuses of unscrupulously dubbing his group's recently released music DVD, Korone. He told Showbiz that they were shocked, when a few days after the DVD was released someone told them shops in Phikwe were selling it at P30, instead of the P65 price. "We were suspicious that something was fishy in Phikwe, hence we dispatched one of our group members to investigate the issue. After promising to bring me a copy after lunch, one of the shop owners became suspicious and said they were no longer selling it," he said.

It appears that the artist's biggest enemy is the world's advance in technology, which was previously supposed to make life easier for the artist. But there are those using the technology to rob artists of their dues. Radio cassette recorders, CD and DVD writers are used to illegally copy and sell artists' works on the underground market. Twenty five year-old Molemogi Rabana, a Phikwean, told Showbiz that he has always bought dubbed CDs and cassettes, oblivious to the fact that he was actively facilitating piracy.

Rabana a factory worker in one of Phikwe's textile factories said he found it cheaper and affordable to buy the pirated stuff, instead of the original. "I have been buying this for a very long time. Most of my music collection is dubbed material," he said. The issue of piracy is not only found within the borders of Botswana. According to a BBC news bulletin, in Germany, police targeted about 2000 music pirates in a bid to stamp out piracy. Kevin Maney, a reporter with Cyberspeak, an online Technology news service says that in some countries pirates have mastered the art of pirating such that it is sometimes difficult for the potential consumer to tell the difference between a pirated copy and an original.

What makes matters worse, he says is how the ingenuously pirated copies find their way into well-known legitimate music stores. "I bought a CD in a legitimate music store on one of the busiest corners in Beijing, a few blocks from Tiananmen Square. The CD came shrink-wrapped, complete with a slick insert of photos and lyrics, and cost the equivalent of $4.

Yet despite the retail setting and packaging, the CD is most likely a pirated copy. The pirates are so good, hardly anyone can tell the difference," he says. He sees the situation as devastating for artists as they are not able to make profits out of their work, while the pirates gain handsomely from this rip-off. "As soon as a CD is made , the pirates are on the street, offering them for a fraction of the retail price. Stores sell pirate copies. Legitimate CDs all but vanish.

So artists have to regard CDs as essentially promotional tools, not as end products. Yu Quan makes money by performing concerts, getting endorsement deals and appearing in commercials. If people hear and like Yu Quan's songs on pirated CDs, at least they'll be more likely to come to the concerts and buy what the duo endorses", Maney says in his Cyberspeak article. In Botswana, though some artists might not be aware, the law is not silent on the issue of piracy.

Lancelot Jeremiah, a music producer in Phikwe says that though he appreciates that the Botswana laws have something to say about pirates, they are hardly enforced, and besides, the charges are not "that high to totally punish these wrong doers so that they can stop this crime. The other thing is as artists I think we should get off our laurels and help the police to identify the culprits and also push for more stringent legislation on piracy," he advises.

Phikwe Police Station Commander, Isaiah Makala says that for the police to take action, in cases relating to piracy they depend on the artists and the public in general to tip them. "Artistes who have a very clear knowledge of the nature and outlook of their products have to come to us and lodge a complaint against the pirates. I would like to appeal to everyone who may have evidence of pirating to report to us," he says.



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