Music of Wednesday, 18 January 2006


Ghana Loses ?20.2bn Through Music Piracy

Ghana and the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) lost about ¢20.2 billion last year through music piracy, the President of MUSIGA, Alhaji Sidiku Buari, has said. This comprised taxes to government and royalties to MUSIGA.

“If piracy is not checked, we would lose further billions of cedis to it because they do not pay taxes or royalties to the MUSIGA”.

He said it is about time that government takes serious action on the issue.

The President, in an exclusive interview last Thursday, said Ghana currently has a copyright law passed by parliament last year after the President assented to it But it is not being implemented because there is no Legislative Instrument (LI) to show the modalities through which the law can be implemented.

“It is only through the LI that we would know what to do, but we have not heard anything up till now,” he added.

He lamented that this has been a big handicap considering the way music is being pirated in the country. According to him the LI is supposed to be passed by the Attorney General.

Alhaji Sidiku Buari was not happy with the way people do not respect the laws of the country as some look on whiles pirates sell pirated goods, including foreign and other intellectual property.

“It is the biggest problem in the music industry now”.

The president said they would improve on the Banderole system of security for their products by acquiring the latest technology “Quick Code”, where codes are inscribed on CDs during manufacturing. Those codes can neither be rubbed off nor copied.

Alhaji Sidiku Buari told the Business Chronicle that his outfit is working with some security agencies such as the Custom Excise and Preventive Service and the Police to arrest the problem and cease smuggling activities, especially from the countries in the sub-region.

“We would work together to be able to let this country benefit from the taxes and revenues that they deserve”.

The term ‘piracy’ is generally used to describe the deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale.

In relation to the music industry, it refers to unauthorized copying and, in this context, falls into 3 categories:

Simple piracy - The unauthorized duplication of an original recording for commercial gain without the consent of the rights owner. The packaging of pirate copies is different from the original. Pirate copies are often compilations, such as the “greatest hits” of a specific artist, or a collection of a specific genre, such as dance tracks.

Counterfeits – Products copied and packaged to resemble the original as closely as possible. The original producer’s trademarks and logos are reproduced in order to mislead the consumer into believing that they are buying an original product.

Bootlegs - These are the unauthorized recordings of live or broadcast performances. They are duplicated and sold - often at a premium price - without the permission of the artist, composer or record company.

Piracy is the greatest threat facing the music industry today. The international recording industry is responding proactively and aggressively to this US$4.3 billion worldwide problem.

The economic losses due to piracy are enormous and are felt throughout the music value chain.

The victims include the artists whose creativity get no reward; governments who loses hundreds of millions of tax revenues; economies that are deprived of new investment; consumers who get less diversity and less choice; and record producers who are forced to reduce their artist rosters because it is impossible to compete against theft.

Why must governments join the fight?

First, the greatest victim of piracy is local culture.

The international recording industry invests hundreds of millions of dollars –up to 15% of its turnover in some countries– in new talent.

This investment has risen steadily over the last decade, and local repertoire accounts for nearly 70% of the global music market.

Second, piracy nurtures organized crime. Very often the money that is paid for pirate CDs will be channeled into the drugs trade, money laundering or other forms of serious organized criminal activities.

Third, piracy acts as a brake on investment, growth and jobs.

Governments cannot permit this critical asset to be devalued by piracy.

In the US alone, copyright industries in 2001 accounted for 5.2% of GDP, or US$535 billion.

Governments are increasingly regulating their CD manufacturing plants; copyright laws worldwide are gradually improving, online and off-line; seizures of pirate product are sharply up, reflecting not only the problem, but also the industry’s heightened response to it; and hundreds of millions of unauthorized music files have been removed from the internet.

Global value of music piracy The value of the global pirate market is estimated to have risen slightly, from US$4.2 billion in 2000 to US$4.3 billion in 2001.

This increase was contained by falling pirate disc prices.

Ghana’s domestic music piracy level is between 10 to 25%, whiles Nigeria’s and Kenya’s is over 50%.