Monday, 15 October 2012

A review of African official IP websites: no.14: Côte d'Ivoire


In September 2011, this blog reported on the lack of any website for the intellectual property  (IP) offices in Côte d'Ivoire (by the way, nothing has changed). The following month, we missed out on this news that piracy is driving Ivorian artists out of their country.

One of those artists, Zouglou musician, Téhé Ella (a.k.a Ella Mèlèkê), is quoted to have said this: "The financial difficulties in which artists find themselves because of piracy are unspeakable. For the time being, moving to a place where intellectual property rights are respected seems to be the only solution to our problem [...] I've decided to leave, to travel the world and live off my talent,".

The African continent - with its diverse cultures and heritage - is bursting with talented people who need to make a living out of their creativity. Increasingly gaining international momentum is the entertainment sector (see hereherehere and here). Piracy is an obvious global problem in this sector and digital technology has its positive and negative impacts too. It is not that the continent lacks the relevant IP laws crucial for this sector (see here for the one in Côte d'Ivoire), the problem often stems from inadequate and/or ineffective: (a) distribution and collective rights management systems; (b) investment e.g. by recording and publishing houses (who are scared of making no ROI); and (c) state support which include the willingness to address the aforementioned issues.

As Darren pointed out in this post on the Sugar Man: it is not whether IP should exist or not, but how to effectively utilised it for the benefit of people like Ella and for socio-economic development across the continent.

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Could African music save Western pop? see here
How African innovators are tackling piracy, see here

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