Experts make a case for copyright infringement in Africa

Participants chat during the just concluded Kigali Audiovisual Forum on Friday. Nadege Imbabazi.

Africa will continue to have problems of copyright infringements if the intellectual property of African Authors is not protected.

A report done by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) shows that Africa collected the lowest revenues from intellectual properties with only Euros 750 million out of Euros 9 billion of the total royalty collections across the globe, which is 0.8 per cent of the total global collections and shows how the continent loses a lot of money out of piracy and copyright infringements.

Europe is the highest revenue collector globally, collecting at least 56 per cent of the total global collections.

CISAC works worldwide to protect the rights and promote the interests of creators across all regions of the world and artistic fields; music, audiovisual, drama, literature and visual arts with the aim to secure fair remuneration for creators for the use of theirs works anywhere in the world.

Reacting on the report, Leonardo de Terlizzi, the CISAC Legal Advisor in France, said that audio-visual creators across the world have challenges that broadcast traditional media have exclusive rights to authorize their works, but in practice, with the majority of their royalties, they do not get remunerated.

Terlizzi said that it was a very big problem that needed attention because there is strong resistance from broadcasters and traditional media in general to pay them based on legal remunerations.

“The main reason for that is that audiovisual operators rely on negotiations to receive fair remunerations, they don’t have strong legal framework, especially an international legal framework which shows that they can receive remunerations on a legal basis,” he said.

Current trend in Africa

The CISAC survey which was conducted in 22 African countries in 2017 shows that only 40 per cent of radio stations in the 22 countries pay royalty fees compared to only 30 per cent of TV stations with South Africa and Algeria leading in paying royalty fees.

While 29million euros out 75 million collected in Africa last year were collected from Radios and TV station, Samuel Sangwa, the Director of CISAC Africa Chapter said the authors are losing a big amount of royalty fees mainly in free consumptions of Radio and Televisions.

“Something is wrong when it comes to royalty exploitation in Africa and we are going a step behind instead of moving forward to improve and this is really this is really a huge loss to the authors,” he said.

The case of Rwanda

Filmmaker Willy Ndahiro told Sunday Times that although there is a political will to protect authors’ works, local authors still struggle to make a living out of their works.

“We are suffering from piracy and local broadcast media use our works with an understanding that they are doing so to promote us yet they can’t pay royalty fees.

But if there were fair agreement between these TV and radio owners and authors on how they can pay royalty fees for using our work, then our industry would develop. If others countries are paying royalties why shouldn’t that happen in Rwanda?” he said.

Sangwa said addressing this trend in Rwanda will depend on a legal framework on the issue, the enforcement of the law by decision makers and the awareness about the law in the community to make sure that intellectual property is protected.