‘Gambia’s copyright industry is up to D7Million big’

As copyright bureau is set to start collecting royalties for artists

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By Sanna Camara

The Director of Gambia’s Copyright Bureau at the National Center for Arts and Culture has disclosed that the country’s copyright sector has a potential of making between D4million to D7million each year, depending on how effective the collection mechanism is.

Presenting a paper on ‘National Copyright Law’, and ‘Litigation, Copyright and Regulation’ to participants at a stakeholders’ training on Copyright and Collective management Societies in The Gambia on Tuesday, Mr. Hassoum Ceesay said this is why enforcement mechanisms and sanctions are provided in the Copyright Act to protect the creative an artistic works.

Mr. Ceesay said threats such as illegal use of musical products by broadcasters and live performances in the entertainment industry will have to be central to collecting royalties for the artists.

Fifty years without royalties

“Since 1962 (when Radio Gambia started broadcasting) until 1970 (when Radio Syd also hit the airwaves) broadcasters have been illegally using musical products without paying royalties to musicians and singers. This cannot continue,” he told the stakeholders.

He argued that is why the Copyright Act has come to protect musicians from piracy and bad contracts. “Some contracts do not even spell out who is the producer of a product or who holds what right. Such a product is open to all sorts of exploitation. These are all rectified in the Act,” said Mr. Ceesay.

He said the primary function of the collecting society is to collect royalties on behalf of artists and distribute it among them. Musicians currently make monies only through life performances. The Society will ensure that they make money for their CDs, shows, broadcasts on TV and radio, among others.

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Join the union, register products

Musicians are therefore encouraged to join musicians’ union to enable them enjoy royalties emanating from their works and products. Non-members of the union cannot benefit from royalties according to the Act.

The union is represented on the Collecting Society. Musicians have also been asked to register their songs, and their CDs at the Copyright Bureau in order protect them from illegal use. This will also accrue royalties to them and their successors, said Hassoum.

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