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May 31, 2006

Piracy hurts creators in developing countries

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For those who think that piracy and counterfeiting are wonderful tools for economic development, here's a great story. Apparently artists and creators in Swaziland disagree with you.

The story is in the Swazi Observer.

Here's the text, in case the link goes down at some point:

Shongwe attacks music pirates

By Nondumiso Dlamini

IN an attempt to clamp down on piracy, top gospel musician Pastor Elias Shongwe of Shongwe and Khuphuka Saved Group yesterday embarked on a lone crusade and seized fake CDs and cassettes from street vendors.

This rather unusual incident happened yesterday morning at around 9 at the Mbabane bus rank. The gospel artist posed as one of the buyers to the unsuspecting pirates and succeeded in walking away with five music cassettes. Some of the dubbed cassettes belonged to a variety of artists including Ncandweni Christ Ambassadors, Shongwe and Khuphuka’s last two albums and South Africa’s Afro pop group Malaika.

“Music piracy is theft. Elaborating on this explanation, music piracy is the  recording of music without the authority of the copyright owner. The invention of CD writers has impacted on the creativity of everyone in the music industry. Piracy is bad practice and slowly but surely killing music,” Shongwe said, adding that the creativity of all the people involved  is being taken for granted.

He said the worst part of this was that most people in the music industry lived and breathed music. This means if the projects they worked on do not do well in the market, their profit decreases, creating a situation whereby they have nothing to support themselves and those who depend on them.

“The cassettes go for as little as E15 so you can imagine what that does to our music as customers are now forced to buy the cheap material from these pirates,” he said.

A recent international school survey shows that approximately 70 percent of the pupils had copied music on a CD and 37 percent illegally downloaded music files from the internet. It is also strongly believed that about everyone who owns computers with a CD writer, copies music at home.

In the African continent, Lucky Dube, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Chicco, Brenda Fassie, Rebecca Malope, Mandoza, Ringo and Joyous Celebration are some of the SA musicians who have been seriously ripped off by piracy.

According to the research it is estimated that each year, the local music industry loses about E350 million to piracy.

As piracy continues to harm the industry it means that artists have no royalty payments and no bread money. Record companies also have no returns on investments which means a decrease in budget expenditure and staff members end up being retrenched. Retailers cannot compete with low prices and no investment takes place into new musicians. Consumers face inferior quality product and if tracks are missing or the sound quality is poor, there is no exchange or refunds. Owners of record stores, CD and Cassette plants, marketing, promotion and distributors also lose out. Of course, government losses come in the form of revenue as the tax man is not paid, which does not help our fledgling economy.

“The fights against music piracy needs the involvement of everyone in the music scene to play a dynamic role. People need to be educated about how piracy is attacking the music industry and how it is harming the work of everyone involved in the project,” he said, adding that if people love music and want to support its development and the longevity of local artists, then they need to comply with regulations and buy original music copies.

“When you buy pirated music you create a market for criminals and when you copy music you are promoting piracy. Let’s all put our efforts towards supporting a thriving domestic music scene in every way we can, and consumer behaviour is one area where everyone can play a significant role,” Shongwe said.

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