A Copyright Monitoring Team (CMT) has been inaugurated to undertake anti-piracy activity and other functions that are necessary to protect authors and other artistes.
The Ghana Copyright Office formed the nine-member Team in accordance with the Copyright Act 2005 (Act 690), to enable them monitor copyright works, investigate cases in respect of copyright and protect and enforce the rights of authors and the creative industry.
The Team, which comprises personnel of the Police Service, five representatives of Copyright Owners and two officers of the Copyright Office, was formed on December 14, 2915.
The members are: Ms Dorothy Habadah and Mr Godfred Lumor of the Copyright Office; Detective Sergeants Mr Nasigri Briamah Seidu and Kessie Akrasi, Ghana Police; while Mr Stephen Brobbey, Mr Richard Quartey, Mr Socrates Safo, Mr Kwasi Nyarko Ofei and Mr Yaw Oxbon, all represent copyright owners.
Ms Yaa Attuafuah, Acting Copyright Administrator, described the CMT as an anti-piracy body that would monitor and send the appropriate signal to all those who continue to infringe on the copyrights of artists, that they are ready to stand up to them.
She said those who infringe on such rights included downloaders of music and films, those who make illegal copies of music and sell without the authorisation of right owners as well as radio stations that play music without paying any royalties to music owners.
Ms Attuafuah said with the coming into force of the monitoring team, all those who infringe on the rights of artists would be arrested and investigated, and offenders would be arraigned before the courts.
Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, in an address read for her by the Chief Director of the Ministry, said creative industries make a considerable contribution to the economic wealth of nations as they contribute about three to six per cent to the gross domestic product of many countries.
She said “in spite of the positive contribution of the creative industries to society, authors and creators are sometimes unable to enjoy the benefits of their toil because of the activities of infringers or pirates who want to reap from where they have not sown”.
Mrs Appiah-Oppong said one of the prime objectives of the copyright system is to ensure that creators of protected works receive financial benefits or remuneration from their works.
She said the CMT therefore, has a specific mandate to plan, coordinate and execute programmes and activities to curb copyright infringements.
She advised the members to discharge their responsibility with utmost integrity and guard against entrapments of pirates and infringers of copyrighted works.
She also called on the Copyright Office, the Collective Management Organisations (CMOs), the various stakeholder groups and the media to support the work of the monitoring team by helping with the needed resources and logistics.
Dr G. Kwesi Annoh, Chairman of CopyGhana, said one of the major incentives for creating copyright works is the opportunity to reap the financial benefits as the creator of a work, but in recent times, unauthorised manufacturing, reproduction and sales of copyright works have deprived copyright owners of their legitimate income.
“With the emergence of rapid technological development, copyright infringement and especially piracy is now similar to organised crime, and fighting this sophisticated, dangerous and armed criminal activity cannot be handled by the individual copyright holder alone,” he said.
Dr Annor welcomed the formation of the monitoring team and said it was a positive signal government has stated its vested interest in helping to curb copyright infringement in Ghana.
He appealed to government to help sustain activities of the Team to ensure that the remedy for copy-right infringement should come with the necessary penalties such as the enactments of injunctions, destruction of infringing products, award of damages and imprisonment of offenders.