Thursday, 18 March 2010

Fines as an Incidental Cost for Infringing

It’s a problem many African countries face, inflation rendering a fine meaningless.  When the law listing the fine is very old, the fine goes beyond meaningless to downright ridiculous.  This is the complaint of musicians in Swaziland who are upset over the very low fine amounts for copyright infringement in Swaziland. [More information on reactions to the fine and the particularly hard effect of copyright infringement on gospel singers can be found here.]

The current Swaziland Copyright Act dates back to 1912 and lists the fine for making, selling, distributing or displaying infringing works as 4 rand for each infringing copy. (Section 13.)  The Act also caps the fine at 100 rand.  (E 4 is equal to ZAR 4, or about half a US dollar.)

A new copyright act has been drafted, which would increase the fine amount to E25,000.  A coalition of copyright law stakeholders met last week to discuss the new draft.  Representatives from the judiciary, music industry, publishing industry and the Council of Arts and Culture discussed their support of the proposed draft and their plans to increase awareness of the need for a new act.  (Swazi Observer has more details of the meeting here.)

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