Draft Copyright Regulation L.I. 1933 - Issues
We wish to appeal to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Hon. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, to critically review portions of the Copyright Regulations and amend or delete burdensome and detrimental clauses that have the potential to stifle and disintegrate the music and audiovisual industries, particularly concerning (a) Security Devices (b) Collective Administration Societies; and also critically review provisions on the Levy, before submitting it to Parliament, in the supreme interest of God and country.
To govern the operations of the Copyright sector, Copyright Regulations LI 1933 is on its way to Parliament once again, after being withdrawn by the last administration as a result of serious objections raised by key stakeholders to certain provisions described as draconian in nature.
Regrettably, no corrective measures have been taken since.
Laws shape the direction and success or otherwise of all businesses and are thus critical to the survival of these entities. This makes it imperative for all stakeholders and lawmakers to ensure such rules and regulations are fair, equitable and create an enabling environment.
To buttress this assertion, law Professor Mark Schultz and Alec van Gelder, in their paper on “Creative Development…” state “…institutions- the laws, customs and norms within which people act and interact in any society- matter. The right institutions allow knowledge industries to prosper. They empower creators through an enabling environment that allows them both to compete with each other and co-operate to undertake mutually beneficial activities. The wrong institutions can cause creativity to wither. The trying experience of African musicians is a testament to this fact.
It is crystal clear that the Attorney General's Department has been misled by its division in charge of Copyright, i.e. the Copyright Office, which is largely responsible for the content in the regulations. The provisions in the LI do not reflect broad consensus and consultation as has been erroneously put out, but mostly opinions in tandem with those of the Administrator. Serious genuine concerns raised by several key musicians, many of iconic status, have been totally ignored.
It is thus of crucial importance to correct this anomaly and take a critical look at the contentious provisions which continue to cause tension, particularly the imposition of a Security Device on stakeholders in the Music and Audio-visual industries.
We believe the time is ripe for a critical, dispassionate and objective in-depth analysis for a resolution of this matter once and for all.
Part 2- SECURITY DEVICE
Clauses on the Security Device in the Copyright Regulations emanate from Section 25 of Copyright Act 690, 2005. The Regulations make it an offence to sell, rent or do any business in reproductions of musical and audio visual works i.e. Cassettes, CDs, DVDs, VCDs, etc. without affixing onto them a security device purchased at the IRS. The penalty for non-compliance is 500 penalty units, approx. 60 million cedis (GHc 6000)
The requirement to have it fixed implies a physical device, going by history a sticker- (Gamugram, Hologram, Stamps, etc.). These devices are used supposedly to distinguish genuine from pirated works; even customers who buy products without it commit an offence.
The banderole system, introduced to COSGA/Copyright Office by the International federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI), has been operating in Ghana for 17 years (1992-2009). However, after 5 years of success, the remaining 12 have been mired in controversy and confusion, due primarily to non performance of key stated objectives.
(1) Failure to pay 7% mechanical royalty (reproduction rights fees) to composers for each sticker sold (a major selling point that made it easy for stakeholders, particularly composers, to accept the banderole system. This mechanical right provision to date has never been implemented and has actually been totally de-linked from sticker sales, not forming part of provisions on security device in Copyright Law 690. This clearly constitutes bad faith and deception)
(2) Failure to enforce the use of detectors to distinguish genuine from fake banderoles as stated at the inception of the banderole system, seriously undermining credibility in the system.
(3) Non-accountability and lack of transparency in operations, particularly in the last decade- numerous calls by stakeholders on the current Copyright Administrator for accounts on sticker sales have been blatantly ignored.
What became the flagship of the Copyright system within its first five years has disintegrated into a lethal tool in the hands of pirates due to its loose acquisition processes, manufacture of several versions of stickers in printing presses lacking the ability or capacity for security printing or safe custody, sales of such stamps directly from the premises of Copyright Office (allegedly without receipts) rather than IRS as advertised, and total disregard for stakeholder concerns.
The consequences of these irresponsible industry wrecking practices include
(1) Legitimization and proliferation of piracy
(2) Deception of law enforcement officers who cannot distinguish between fake and genuine works, as both genuine and pirate works carry the stickers, (whose authenticity cannot be verified).
(3) Deception and financial loss to stakeholders and the public, who deal in or purchase fake works thinking they are genuine, and miscarriage of justice by law enforcers who seize genuine works without stickers.
(4) Government's unwitting endorsement of piracy via the Copyright Office, with fake works bearing stamps/stickers embossed in Ghana's national colours and Coat of Arms, creating the impression of government approval, even when done privately.
The sum total of this is that the original objective for introducing the banderole to assist in distinguishing genuine from fake products has been completely derailed. What began as the banderole mutated first into hologram, then gamugram and finally several versions of stamps, literally rendering the whole exercise meaningless and totally eroding stakeholder confidence leading to rejection of the system by many of them.
The banderole system worked mainly because there was broad consensus at its inception. This consensus however has completely broken down. Despite intense opposition to its imposition, Parliament unwittingly endorsed it as part of the new Copyright Act 690 of 2005, with presidential assent withheld for five months, due to its highly controversial nature.
It is no wonder then that enforcing the system despite its current legal status has run into serious difficulties, further stalling the passage of the LI for over four years now, the same issues having earlier delayed passage of the substantive Act for several years.
THE INTERNATIONAL DIMENSION
It is interesting to note that the IFPI that introduced the banderole to Ghana sounded a warning as far back as September 2001 in a memo, that stated “the banderole system carries rather more dangers than benefits and urges Ghana to take a cautious approach”.
Continuing further, it states “The way the banderole system is currently drafted in the Bill it is prone to mislead consumers and to create the impression that any product which has been produced with the consent of the author's society is automatically legal. It is apparent that the provisions do not meet any of the concerns raised above. Quite the contrary, they create a lopsided system that is not yet designed to help the fight of the violation of phonogram and videogram producer's rights while asking the producers to carry the financial burden. This only serves to confirm the general reservations of right holders vis-a-vis banderole systems”.
Nigeria, one of the countries that have operated the banderole system, has encountered problems similar to the Ghanaian one. One of the major stakeholders on the Nigerian Music landscape, the Musical Copyright Society (MSCN) in a memo dated May 21st, 2001, stated:
“The Nigerian Copyright Commission is engaged in the commercial venture of producing and selling banderole stamps on the works produced by private citizens without authorization of the owners of the copyright in the works…
“The law infringes on the exclusive right of a copyright owner to dispose of his works, as he deems fit, without interference from any authority or person.”
It argues further “If a copyright owner wishes to dispose of his work by sale, hire, barter or any other means without additional burden of a so-called anti-piracy label or mark, which will put additional burden on him, he must be free to do so”.
Interestingly, the Nigerian situation parallels the Ghanaian one in several respects, with the copyright owner arguing that
(a) A state controlled authenticating system violates the right of the author to control his own works including devising schemes to protect it from piracy
(b) The operations of the scheme have not been transparent. And as a result there has been misappropriation of funds to the tune of Ten Million Naira.
In a document authored by The International Intellectual Property Alliance- 2003 Special 301 Report, Turkey- under sub-heading
“BANDEROLE SYSTEM NOT WORKING TO CURB PIRACY”,
'The banderole system has not worked as an anti-piracy tool in Turkey, and even though strengthened provisions were introduced in the 2001 Copyright Law (including the possibility of criminal penalties for unauthorized uses of the banderole or dealing in works without banderoles), those provisions remained untested in 2001 and 2002.
IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic industries) reports that some plants hold unnecessarily large quantities of banderoles which are not secured adequately. Additionally, where banderoles are applied to a jewel case (the case of an optical disc), the situation can easily be exploited for fraudulent purposes, as pirates will insert a pirate disc into the case of an original (making it look legal)…
Fraud and abuse marred the system in 2001, as over 5 million stickers were unaccounted for and probably made their way into unauthorized users' hands and onto unauthorized product, making them look legal.
In addition, in 2001, proceeds from the banderole allocation were being collected but not being used for anti-piracy purposes….
International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) understands that one civil servant of the Istanbul Copyright office was tried in 2001, found guilty and imprisoned for large scale misappropriation of banderoles……
E.g. The entertainment software industry reported in 2001 that banderoles for game software were being obtained falsely by pirates supplying false documentation to the Ministry of Culture which did not take steps to ascertain whether documents presented were legitimate……
It is crystal clear from the above that the banderole system has several pitfalls and can pose an extremely high risk to owners of copyright, as clearly demonstrated in the few countries of the world that have experimented with it. This is apart from the question of whether it can withstand constitutional or judicial scrutiny.
The IFPI states clearly
“Copyright is the means by which a person or a business makes a living from their creativity. Copyright springs from a simple notion: the people who create or invest in creative work should be the ones to decide how that work should be reproduced and made available to the public”.
Article 9 of the Berne Convention, the world's pre-eminent Copyright Treaty which Ghana has acceded to also states that “Authors of Literary and Artistic works protected by this convention shall have the exclusive right to authorize the reproduction of these works in any manner or form”
Imposing a sticker that is prone to easy counterfeiting on stakeholders, many of whom have absolutely no confidence in; a system that legitimizes a pirate work merely by its presence, and criminalizes a genuine one simply by its absence, promotes miscarriage of justice and is clearly an encroachment on the rights of stakeholders.
It is interesting to note that, though books are copyright products prone to serious piracy, owners are not obligated to use the compulsory sticker.
The Copyright Administrator in the final forum held on the Copyright Regulations held in April this year, tried unsuccessfully to justify the exemption of books on the lame excuse that they had a problem with where to place the sticker, though books have an even larger surface area than cassettes, CDs and DVDs. How will book authors and their consumers distinguish fake from genuine books without the sticker?
Many other intellectual property products under patent law, trademark and design law are constantly subjected to piracy and counterfeiting, just like CDs, and audiovisual works. Voltic and other brands of mineral water, soft beverages including Coca Cola, pharmaceutical drugs, etc. pose a direct health risk to consumers should fake or counterfeited ones enter the market, yet they are not compelled by the Registrar Generals Dept. or Food and Drugs Board to transport their products to their premises for stickers to be placed on them upon pain of criminal sanctions.
Thus the argument forcefully advanced by promoters of the sticker that it is for the protection of consumers is spurious.
TECHNOLOGY HAS RENDERED BANDEROLE OBSOLETE
Technological development has always outpaced the law, so that laws enacted without foresight become obsolete and ineffective within relatively short periods. As the developed world fast tracks its advanced voluntary security device systems, Ghana lags so far behind it is pathetic.
At a time when digital downloading has become the preferred format of doing business for both legitimate user and particularly pirates, necessitating the use of advanced copy protection systems including watermarking and encryption etc., Ghanaian lawmakers are being encouraged to create a disabling environment by compelling the use of obsolete mechanisms.
Also how stickers and stamps as security devices can be used to protect works in the digital domain being illegally downloaded consistently millions of times here in Ghana mainly at the several internet cafes, in the process displacing sales of physical products that are already on the decline, remains to be seen.
Technology has moved us from Vinyl LPs, Cassettes, CDS, DVDs and the Internet. The most effective protection for current formats including Cds and DVDs is through embedding in them codes that make illegal copying extremely difficult, in the process effectively safeguarding the rights of copyright owners, and not by placing stickers on cases or inlays of products.
Our situation clearly exposes the lack of interest in and comprehension of how technology has impacted on music industry operations by particularly the Copyright Office, which does not yet have a website and is not abreast with technological developments and their impact on copyright works.
The solution is simply to abandon the sticker entirely, or failing that, make it optional. It's time to change and move forward in the right direction.
THE TAX ELEMENT
When the banderole was introduced almost two decades ago, an argument was made that it would compel owners of phonograms meet their tax obligations. One clear result has been the increase in costs of legal products bearing the sticker, and creating an incentive for cheaper pirated works.
Our contention is this: Tax matters must be completely divorced from protection of works. The IRS will do better instituting a tax at source, i.e. when the products are manufactured, but this must apply to all manufactured goods in the country. VAT is factored into manufacturing of CDS and DVDs so a tax element exists, and most producers and manufacturers of musical works consistently and responsibly pay their taxes.
The sticker system is ineffective to ensure tax compliance as due to several anomalies that have resulted in the printing of counterfeit stickers and others that are sold outside the IRS premises, with absolutely no action taken by the IRS. The role of the IRS has been totally limited to collection of 15% of proceeds from sales of stickers, without any involvement in manufacturing, procurement, monitoring and enforcement. The IRS can engage stakeholders in the Music and Audiovisual industries directly to determine if it is necessary to institute special taxes only for these sectors.
At worst, stakeholders are prepared to pay the 15% revenue that the IRS collects from the sale of each sticker directly to the IRS if need be. The IRS can then issue its own tax stamps directly to musicians, record and film producers.
It is crystal clear that the IRS is only being used to give the sticker system legitimacy to convince lawmakers of its benefits to the nation, when in fact it has become abundantly evident that the imposition of the system is a result of an obsession by the Copyright Office to engage in commercial business of selling stamps, stickers etc. without any benefit to stakeholders.
More Cumbersome Measures Introduced-
The requirement to physically transport thousands of bulky works to the IRS to have these devices fixed is impractical. Sales peak during key seasons like Christmas, and one can imagine the chaotic scenes at the offices of the IRS during such periods, with several artistes and record company personnel struggling to acquire devices before the holidays.
Music is a high risk business, and sales patterns are erratic. The risk of
failure is over 90%, and capital is difficult to come by. The IRS, being a
government body does not operate during periods like Christmas, Easter and
other holidays, periods when artistes enjoy the best sales. Most product
have products have a 6 month life cycle, after which sales can plummet and
One can imagine if during a critical period like Christmas one is not able to
acquire these stickers for several reasons including closure of the
government IRS office! If your production is, for instance 'Christmas
Songs” and you are unable to acquire stickers early enough your business
will experience bankruptcy! Since it is an offence to sell without the
sticker, one can only imagine the number of bankruptcies that will result,
creating a cycle of poverty with attendant social and psychological problems
This provision is clearly burdensome, an inconvenience that will surely create a suffocating environment for the music and audio visual industries.
These and many other valid factors too many to enumerate have created lack of confidence and outright rejection of the sticker system by many well meaning stakeholders, who contrary to what is being mischievously, deliberately and erroneously bandied about, are not opposing the sticker system just for the sake of it.
It may be prudent to listen to the genuine concerns voiced by these key copyright owners who are only out to protect their livelihood and the substantial investments they have made in their works, as these perceived minority voices may turn out to be the majority after all, history and prevailing evidence in other areas clearly being a guide! The right thing must always take precedence over so called majority views.
It is recommended that the Minister of Justice suspend indefinitely the entire Security Device clause from the Regulations till the following measures have been taken-
1. An investigation into the operations of the Copyright Office, whose unprofessional handling of the security devices has jeopardized the security of works of music and film owners, including the viability of their businesses, resulting in a total lack of confidence in the sticker.
2. An in-depth analysis of the Sticker Security Device system, and whether it is relevant and beneficial to copyright owners, particularly in this digital era.
3. Expunge or comprehensively amend Section 25 of Copyright law 690,
making the use of the security device optional.
Copyright is a property right, and exclusive rights are granted by law to owners of these rights, who can buy, sell, transfer, donate or will these properties as they wish. Protection of these properties, like other forms of real or movable property, is the prime responsibility of private owners, with government providing the right environment through assistance and support from law enforcement agencies.
The compulsory sticker system is akin to government compelling all citizens to engage the services of security companies at their own expense no matter how prohibitive the cost may be, to guard their homes, without which they would be penalized. Property owners must be allowed to determine what security systems they find appropriate- some may use dogs, watchmen, spiritual aids, high tech tools or nothing at all.
Imagine what will happen if citizens, who for instance perceive a security company to be unreliable and dangerous, are forced to use their services, upon pain of punishment! This is the situation we find ourselves in.
Key effective remedies against piracy including civil and criminal penalties, court injunctions, seizure and forfeiture of infringing articles etc. that have been provided in the Copyright Act under Clauses 42, 47 and others, have not been employed in the fight to eradicate piracy.
The situation is brilliantly presented in the authoritative “Ghanaian law of Copyright”
“There is no legal presumption that a phonogram without a banderole is, ipso facto, a pirated work.”
“Producers and musicians have every right to protect their works embodied in sound recordings against illicit duplication and distribution. They do not have to do it under COSGA or any collecting society. In this they can adopt any appropriate identification device so as to enable them identify genuine from pirated works.
…An anti-piracy scheme can be operated outside the Copyright Administration or a recognized collecting body. Indeed in other countries, there are associations like FACT or FAST i.e. Federation against Copyright Theft and Federation against Software Theft. They are not part of copyright societies. They are established by the rights owners with the sole purpose of detecting copyright offenders and having them punished.”
COMMENTS ON THE LEVY PROVISIONS
Our comments on the levy will be extremely brief. The main point of contention is the percentage for administration and cultural purposes.
We believe it will be patently unfair to exceed 10% for administration, and this must cover what goes to all government establishments involved in any way in the administration of the fund, including CEPS.
For a whopping 30% of the levy revenue to go into administrative and cultural purposes is way too much and patently unfair. Also the remaining 70% to be apportioned equally for musical works, audiovisuals and literary works does not reflect he reality on the ground. Musical works churned out every year far outnumbers audiovisuals and books comparatively.
It is thus patently unfair for the levy to be shared equally among the music, book and film industries. We wish to propose the following-CEPS- 4%, Copyright Office-3%, other admin costs- 3%, and culture-5%: Total=15%. Remaining 85% shared as follows: Musical Works-40%, Audiovisuals-25%, Literary-20%. This is a more equitable arrangement, as music practitioners outnumber the others by at least a ratio of 10 to 1.
On the provision to reserve 10% for cultural purposes, the prudent thing to do is to clearly spell out exactly where and how this fund will be managed, its application, plus detailed provisions to ensure accountability and transparency and how exactly this revenue will be used to the benefit of the creative community. Maximum effort must be expended to avoid any loopholes that will create avenues for corruption.
The levy has been purposely instituted to provide compensation for revenue loss to copyright owners as a result of home taping and other use of blank media that deprive creators of deserved income, and this must be handled responsibly.
On the distribution of the levy to various stakeholders in the creative community, it is important to take cognizance of the fact that musical products constitute the vast majority of copyright works produced in the country and are thus the primary target of illegal pirate activity.
Music is clearly the fountainhead of the arts, and this is reflected in the extensive usage of musical works, which comes in the form of Cassettes, Cds, DVDs (music videos) etc. Musical works are also an integral part of other audio-visual works including films, video games, etc., and are used extensively on all broadcast networks (Radio, TV, Webcasts, etc) and other internet uses including extensive downloading, legal and illegal.
It is thus crucially important and fair that in the apportioning of resources from the levy, musical works be accorded priority and majority percentage, in relation to other copyright works.
Collective Administration of Copyright
The Copyright Act 690 gives authors of copyright works the right to form collecting societies to advance their interests, in consonance with provisions in Ghana's 1992 Constitution guaranteeing the Right to Free Association for the promotion of interests of citizens of Ghana who wish to voluntarily operate collectively.
Music Collecting Societies represent songwriters, composers and music publishers who create and own rights in their musical works, which constitute property. The rights owners come together simply to make it convenient and efficient to license their creative works to persons and organizations (users) who desire to use these works publicly to enhance their businesses and increase their profitability.
CISAC, which is the oversight international body for collecting societies worldwide, states
“Collective Administration is the exercise of author's right by organizations which represent creators and look after the enforcement of their rights”
The role of the lawmaker is thus to make rules that create an enabling environment for these private societies to operate effectively.
Enumerated below are clauses that need to be either amended or expunged.
1. In Part 4 of the Copyright Regulations under the heading “OPERATION OF COLLECTIVE ADMINISTRATION SOCIETIES” In Section 20, the operation of private societies without the approval of the Minister of Justice has been criminalized, carrying a penalty of 150 penalty units (approx. GHc 1800) and/or one year in jail.
This provision puts an impediment on the rights of citizens to voluntarily and freely associate to promote and protect their interests. For it will be an aberration if after registering their association at the Registrar General's Dept. simply to benefit from revenue generated through the use of their property, composers can be thrown into jail for not acquiring a license to operate, even when this is unjustly and unreasonably withheld.
This clause carries the potential of intimidating and cowing into submission authors who may be victimized for resisting bad governance practices of a dictatorial regime, simply for fear of penal sanctions.
In as much as it may be expedient to constitute a body or person to approve the operation of such societies, such an authorizing body must not be vested with such totalitarian powers in this constitutional democracy, as the potential for abuse is extremely high.
This will ensure right thinking citizens who have impediments deliberately put in their way by officials with domineering tendencies or for reasons of purely political mischief, are not intimidated by the possibility of serving a jail term for simply exercising their right to free association.
Also, we firmly believe such legislation is ill suited to a government that believes so much in constitutional democracy. These provisions even under military rule would be deemed harsh.
Copyright is mostly a civil matter, and we are thus calling for the operation of societies to be decriminalized. This clause must be deleted. Civil sanctions may apply if necessary.
2. Oversight powers granted to the Minister of Justice, (who may delegate all functions under Copyright Act 690 to the Copyright Administrator under clause 75 of Copyright Act 690), are excessive, particularly for a private association of composers etc. who are not employees of government.
For instance, under Section 23-The Minister may approve or reject societies based on whether or not certain burdensome conditions are fulfilled, including a requirement to establish functional offices in at least five regions of Ghana!
The condition for societies to establish functional offices in at least five regions of Ghana, is not only unreasonable and financially crippling, but demonstrates once again lack of comprehension by the Copyright Office of the nature and operations of collecting societies in the music industry.
Music Rights organizations are not formed based on geographical location- they are bodies one joins voluntarily irrespective of where one resides or comes from. The prudent approach is to establish one functional office to begin with (Headquarters) in an area with high a concentration of musicians and musical activity and expand when deemed necessary.
In countries like America cities like Nashville have been designated music cities, due to the high concentration of music practitioners and business entities in that locality. In Nigeria, Lagos is where most of the action is.
In Ghana, Accra and Kumasi have the highest concentration of active music business organizations and practitioners, more than all the other regions combined. The practitioners are made up of people from all regions, making setting up in several regions financially imprudent.
The Copyright Society of Ghana (COSGA), established by government with all the resources of government at their disposal, has operated for over twenty years primarily in Accra, with skeleton staff in Kumasi- and even then from the premises of the Copyright Office!
How then would the lawmaker saddle a private collection society in its infancy with the gigantic financial and administrative burden of establishing functional offices in five regions? And at whose cost, particularly when the provisions do not enjoin government to provide funding for the setting up of these functional offices, but rather imposes the extra yoke of “a fee to be determined by the Minister of justice in consultation with the Minister of Finance”, upon approval?
In the US, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), one of the three major collecting societies for performing rights which has been operating for close to a hundred years, functions mainly from its headquarters in New York, and about two other locations.
These onerous provisions will discourage the formation of societies by saddling composers, etc. with debt even before they begin operations.
What happens to a society of composers, who after spending thousands of Ghana cedis to establish functional offices, gets rejected? How do they recoup their investment? And will they then be compelled to join associations whose objectives they do not subscribe to or believe in?
Also in this technologically advanced era, societies must encourage members to open bank accounts into which their royalties will be deposited. The use of internet, e-mail and several technological innovations can be employed for efficient operations and optimization of benefits.
Managers appointed by owners of collecting societies are enjoined to ensure members have optimal benefits from the use of their works. Thus, setting up functional offices in several regions is unreasonable and counterproductive.
This provision must be replaced with a requirement to have one functional office (Headquarters) to begin with. A society must be allowed to expand as and when necessary and financially prudent.
3. The Minister of Justice in consultation with the Minister of Finance, to fix a license fee to be paid by Society on approval-
This places another financial burden on owners of private property, who after paying registration fees at the Registrar Generals Dept. have to pay an additional undetermined fee for a license to operate.
Other onerous provisions include-
The requirement for the society to submit reports of meetings, operations and accounts to the Minister annually;
Inspection of facilities by Minister anytime;
Authority of Minister to disapprove or revoke license;
Renewal of License every five years, etc
These provisions are superfluous and unnecessary, as the Societies are accountable to their members and also have to fulfill accounting and other provisions spelt out in the Companies Code, which is issued by the register General's Dept. under the same Minister of Justice.
Private Collecting societies must be required to provide statements of account and records of its operations and activities to its members. The requirement to submit same to the Minister on an annual basis constitutes unwarranted interference in private sector business.
The courts may however upon express request by members of a society, request for such documents when there are blatant violations and the society is operating contrary to the principles of good governance.
The provision to renew a society's license every five years is totalitarian and burdensome, particularly the requirement to go through the whole process again as if a new body was being set up. This provision must be expunged.
Collecting Societies are set up to operate perpetually and their operations must only be revoked through judicial process by a court of competent jurisdiction, and this should be for blatant breaches of the law, refusal to operate according to good governance principles and furnish owners with audited accounts and statements of operations and activities, and literally operating with clear criminal intent to defraud members.
The Minister, and by extension officers including the Copyright Administrator to whom the Minister of Justice may delegate all functions assigned to him/her, must not be vested with such authoritarian powers over private collecting societies, as these powers may and can be misused.
There is also the danger of these provisions being used as a political weapon to whip into line or bring into submission perceived political opponents, or used as a weapon to control persons with dissenting opinions.
The failure of the copyright sector largely emanates from policy failure of the Copyright Office, absence of proper systems and structures and lack of good governance practices in creative industry institutions.
The result is blatant violations in all areas of intellectual property works in Ghana, including piracy of cassettes, optical discs, books and an influx of imported counterfeit works coupled with unauthorized uses of works in broadcasting and other areas.
Time is ripe for the institution of proper measures that ensure accountability and transparency in creative industry institutions and deal decisively with the culture of impunity that has characterized the sector for years. The time to act is now.
Thank You and God bless you.
Represented by Kojo Antwi, Amakye Dede, Carlos Sakyi, Mac Tontoh, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Amanzeba Nat Brew, Nana Kwame Ampadu, Randy Noonoo, Aboagye Asiama, Mark Okraku Mantey, Rex Omar, Enock Adjepong, Obuoba J.A. Adofo, Rex Boateng, C.K. Morrison, Slim Busterr and several others.