Stakeholders discuss Copyright Act
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
In accordance with the Copyright Act 2004 that mandates the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) to administer copyright in The Gambia, and in pursuance of this mandate, stakeholders recently organised a day-long forum aimed at sensitisingmusicians and various actors on the issue.
The forum, held at the conference room of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture in Banjul is seen as a good step towards protecting the creative and intellectual properties of the artistes and other concerned actors.
Speaking at the occasion, the director general of NCAC, Baba Ceesay, explained that the Directorate of Copyright was structured to be responsible for copyright matters and the administration of the copyright Act of March 2004 with a view to protect creativity and intellectual property.
He asserted that the empowerment of artists in the NCAC Act started soon after the establishment of then Council with the first Act in 1989 and updated in 2003. “In accordance with our strategy, the recent policy is to desist from being organiser and focus on facilitating and assisting good programmes that stand to benefit a cross-section of the artiste community.
“This task would have been easier with a strong and functioning music union with the broadest representation,” Ceesay said, and lamented the fact that this is not the case as some musicians choose not to be members of the union.
While indicating that the objective of the forum was to get the input of the important stakeholder groups in the development of the next NCAC’s strategic plan, Ceesay said they need concrete proposals from the group on activities that can be implemented in the next five years to benefit Gambian musicians.
The director of Cultural Heritage at the NCAC, Hassoum Ceesay, for his part, said prior to year 2003, the copyright law that subsisted in The Gambia was a colonial inheritance dating back to 1915, explaining that it only covered printed materials. “Given the advances in technology that have occurred since then, the need for a new copyright law was long overdue,” he added. The Copyright Act 2004, he posited, mandates the NCAC to administer copyright in The Gambia.
He continued: “The Act provides for Copyright Office under the NCAC charged with registration of intellectual property works such as films, books, music products; to fight piracy and to sensitise the public on copyright issues.
In addition the Act also provides for the creation of an autonomous body corporate institution called Gambia Collecting Society, which will collect royalties for artistes whose works are used by radio stations, clubs, taxis, hotels, ‘furals’ amongst others.
This body should be set up and run by the artistes themselves and the NCAC has no role in it except that we will sit on the nine-member board. Yet, the NCAC is actively supporting artistes like writers, drama and theatre practitioners to come together in associations so that the Collecting Society can start operations.”
The Cultural Heritage director recalled that in December 2010, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) responded positively to a proposal sent by the NCAC Copyright Office and organised a successful multi-sectored training on copyright issues. This, he added, helped to bring salient copyright issues to stakeholders across the creative arts scene in The Gambia.
He also informed the participants that a comprehensive brochure on copyright in The Gambia has been finalized and awaits printing to help sensitise the public on copyright issues.
“In addition to this, on the international front, links have been established with BSDA [Senegal Copyright Office], and the Gambia is now a member of the West African Copyright Network, which groups West African countries with copyright offices and seeks to harmonise anti-piracy activities in the sub-region, and the Interpol local office,” he explained.
Present at the forum were the deputy permanent secretary at MoTC, Momodou Joof, Benard K. Bosumprah, a consultant to the World Intellectual Property (WIPO) based in Geneva, who was in the country on NCAC’s invitation, and Jaliba Kuyateh, amongst others.
Author: Yunus S Saliu