Creative works such as music, drama, art and writings do not only nourish lives and build national heritages; creative works also contribute immensely to national economies.
“Surveys conducted in several countries show that the creative industries contribute between three to six percent of gross domestic product (GDP).” the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice has said.
Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrissu said these at a symposium on the “Rights and Responsibilities of the Media under the Copyright Law.” The symposium, organized by the Editors Forum, Ghana (EFG) in Accra Thursday July 30, 2009 was to bring to the fore the copyright infringements in the Ghanaian media and to encourage professionalism.
She said through creative works “we appreciate the arts, learn new things and different cultures.” “Creative works,” she said “are done primarily for our education, our enjoyment and for improving the quality of our lives.”
Plagiarism or the copying of other people’s works and putting them up as one’s own is rampant in the media in Ghana. Most TV, radio stations, newspapers and online news portals, copy and use other people’s works and take credit for these without recognizing the contribution of the original creators of the works.
This disturbing and illegal trend has been going on for long and it appears to have become the norm, to the extent that some of the radio and TV stations especially, think that they are doing copyright owners a favour by attributing to them what they have created. They argue that by attributing works to original owners, they are advertising them.
Ghanaian journalists, writers, musicians and artists, are not among the best paid in the country, while most of these media that infringe on their copyrights rake in large amounts of money from advertising revenue.
“While the lives of individual members of the society are enhanced or enriched by creative works, it is necessary to ensure that the creators of the works get recognition and fair reward for their labour. It is for this reason that we have a regime embodied in the Copyright Act, 2005 Act 690,” she said.
Adding, “Copyright laws vest certain basic and exclusive economic and paternity rights in the creator of the work which enable him or her to receive credit as the author, and remuneration for his or her creative work.”
The copyright legislation also provides the basic exclusive mechanism to prevent the unauthorized use of copyright protected works, she said.
According to the Attorney-General, “government is committed to ensuring that all stakeholders of the creative industries get credit and good remuneration for their endeavours.”
“It is in this regard that my Ministry is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the Legislative Instrument to the Copyright Act becomes operational within the shortest possible time,” she promised.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi