Ghana’s Copyright law scrutinised

Mr. Emmanuel M. Darkey, a Librarian at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana on Tuesday observed that the framers of the copyright law should have balanced the interest of stakeholders in order to facilitate public education on the legislation.

He said while ensuring the protection of intellectual rights of authors and publishers, it was also crucial to protect users’ rights so that they could have unhindered access to needed information for socio-economic development.

Mr. Darkey, who was speaking at a workshop on Copyright limitations and exceptions for education and research environment in Ghana, argued that currently the Copyright law did not favour libraries, archives and educational institutions, since they are restricted to make few copies of publications for their records only.

He said in Ghana educational institutions depended widely on the services of libraries due to limited access to readable academic materials, yet the copyright law prohibits the reprographic reproduction of whole books.

Mr. Darkey said students and faculties in tertiary institutions were faced with frustrations and challenges of having to violate the law, while libraries and achieves were also desperate thereby hindering swift services as large number of its clientele had to struggle over limited publications of wider readership.

He said education was the only way for people to understand and take control of their environment and lift themselves out of poverty, therefore educational materials should be made accessible to them.

He said in crafting copyright laws, legislators should be able to equalize the bargaining leverage among the three groups which involves publishers, authors and users, so that no group becomes too strong or unlimited.

However it is certain that copyright had served as a barrier to the development of learning and education in Ghana, he said.

Mr Darkey said in order to expand knowledge and inspire wider authorship and publication, indigenous and local publishers should be given financial and technical assistance so that they would be able to publish more books to satisfy the large demands for books in tertiary institutions.

He urged librarians to seek further education on the copyright law and be involved in debates and discussions when it comes to its revision.

The workshop which was organized by the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Project, was aimed at soliciting for inputs from stakeholders for a draft Legislative Instrument on the Copyright law.

The project, which was under a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, Canada and South Africa’s Shuttleworth Foundation, carried out a research to investigate the relationship between copyright and access to copyright protected works for purposes of education in Ghana.

Mrs. Betty-Mould Iddrisu, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, acknowledged the importance that knowledge plays in the development process of every nation, saying the wealth of a nation is measured by the quantum of its intellectual assets rather than by its military might.

The Minister said intellectual property rights had become one of the most important commodities in the global market place, however access to quality and affordable education, as an important policy agenda for government, also hinges on the citizenry’s ability to afford materials that greased the wheels of knowledge.

Mrs. Iddrisu said the institutionalization of a balanced copyright regulatory society in accordance with the law would promote public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of works of arts and intellect, while providing a just reward for the creator.

She said a copyright regulatory environment in Ghana, should be fine-tuned to promote the interests of the public and private owners.

The Minister promised to ensure that the inadequacies that existed in the Copyright law were ironed out.

Mr. Poku Adusei, ACA2K Ghana Team Leader, expressed the hope that the study would contribute to the development of a legal, regulatory and practical environment that served to increase the scope of access to teaching and learning materials in Ghana.

He said the study was also expected to assist in the development of an enabling environment for positive interactions between copyright users.

Source: GNA

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