Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Copyright Society of Tanzania speaks out

The Tanzanian market is flooded with pirate music and movie recordings placing the country in the lead in copyright infringement statistics in Eastern and Southern Africa. This was revealed in Dar es Salaam yesterday during a workshop on Intellectual Property Rights and its relevance to investment in Tanzania. Participants in the workshop called for urgent steps to reverse the trend by ensuring strict enforcement of the Copyright Law, according to DailyNewsOnline.

Mr Yustus Mkinga of the Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA), told the workshop that COSOTA had embarked on vigorous licensing and anti-piracy campaigns that include filing copyright cases against adamant users, regular searches, raids and seizure of pirate copies as well as communicating with broadcasters on the requirement to pay copyright royalties (eg see report here). The three day workshop has been organized by the Tanzania Investment Centre in collaboration with the International Development Law Organization based in Italy.

COSOTA is a statutory body established in 2001 with the main aim of promoting creativity and protecting the rights of creators. It functions both as a copyright office responsible for implementing the copyright and Neighboring rights Act, No 7/1999 and as a collective management society for rights owners who have mandated it to administer the rights on their behalf. If you are aware of any infringements in Tanzania please contact COSOTA here. COSOTA's tariff and distribution rules can be located here.

Afro-IP wonders if there is not a real opportunity for a legitimate thriving business within this problem area. For example, one could incentivise the public to inform COSOTA by giving them a cut-back on bona fide collections. Cosota could afford to employ dedicated resource and lawyers (to the extent that they do not do so already)by agreeing costs based on performance by the resource, and Cosota could obtain more members by selling a self funding service that collects. Naturally the model is dependant on reliable enforcement system but it appears that some success has so far been achieved.