Gambian culture minister: ‘Copyright, backbone of culture industry’

As Gambia prepares to combat piracy, protect works of cultural creators

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By Sanna Camara

Copyright is the backbone of the industry, said Mrs. Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture.

According to Madam Jobe-Njie, this is why both the creators and users need to understand its concept and intricacies “so that there will be no losers but only winners”.

Addressing stakeholders at the opening of four-day training on Copyright Administration and Collective management Society of The Gambia, Minister Mass Jobe expressed optimism that The Gambia will soon join the list of ECOWAs countries with copyright collecting mechanisms to strengthen the status of our creative communities.

Combating piracy, protect works of cultural creators

The training, which is supported by the ECOWAS Regional Copyright Observatory, is helping The Gambia to position itself to combat piracy and protect works of cultural creators – ranging from writers, musicians, dancers, playwrights and dramatists.

Its objective is to make sure that creators and in ECOWAS benefit financially and morally from their creations.

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Government benefit from relevant taxes and duties

“We all know that in developed countries, the creative industries account for a large percentage of Gross Domestic Product. And this is only possible thanks to the effective intellectual property defense mechanism which enable creators to harvest what they sow and also allow government to benefit from relevant taxes and duties,” she told the fifty-participant gathering of stakeholders this morning.

She added that creative works such as music could now be exploited in many more ways such as internet downloading and streaming, which poses new challenges to creators and users.

“Creators do not now only worry about those duplicating their CD or books at street corners. They also have to learn to tackle the internet based infringements which are harder to handle,” she argued.

Vibrant industry creates revenue besides oil, agriculture

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“You would agree with me that a vibrant and flourishing cultural industry would generate employment, wealth, increase foreign exchange earnings, create alternative sources of revenue generation (apart from oil and agriculture) and free our populations from the shackles of poverty,” said Prof. Abdoulaye Maga, Director of Education, culture, Science and Technology of the ECOWAS Commission.

Professor said this would further harness the cultural potentials of creators of works and promote regional integration and the visibility of the ECOWAS region.

He added that copyright plays a crucial role in the creation, production and dissemination of knowledge and the creation of wealth in modern societies.”

Protecting the moral, material interests of authors and creators

“It aims at meeting the legitimate demand for recognition and remuneration of the creator. Thus protecting the moral and material interests of the authors and creators stimulates incentive and impetus for them to forge ahead against all odds,” said Prof. Maga.

He added that copyright ensures public interest, promotes education, and engenders progress in technological discoveries and innovations in the art and sciences, as well as dissemination of cultures. 

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