A few months ago, Zambia officially began requiring authenticating holograms on physical media like DVDs and CDs. The program appears to be similar to the Nigerian Hologram Scheme put in effect about 6 or 7 years ago. The idea is that the government will affix legal copies of media with a special hologram sticker that allows everyone to see that the product is not a pirated copy. The Zambian program is only a few months old but has already dealt with its share of criticism.
The Zambian government began promoting and educating about the hologram program many months before introduction of the actual holograms on discs. President of the Zambia Association of Music criticized the program as “archaic” because it addresses only physical copies of media and does nothing to address sharing digital files. Traders who sell music and movies it the markets criticized the program for not allowing enough time for them to sell off their old products. Traders who only learned about the program when government officials visited were concerned the government has not done enough to educate the population about the holograms. Others are concerned that the requirement to obtain holograms from the government will harmfully delay the release of new products. Despite the criticisms, the Zambian government says the hologram program is helping to curb piracy.
Afro Leo is a bit stunned by these developments. On the one hand, a hologram program does seem a rather old-fashioned way to address piracy. Even in 2008, the Nigerian program seemed a little outdated. On the other hand, legitimate music purchasing options are important, and it isn’t always easy for a consumer to know what’s pirated or not in a market stall. This little Leo was surprised to learn that Mondo Music, the label she most frequently purchased when living in Zambia, had gone out of business due to piracy. 10 years ago, Mondo Music had most of the biggest artists in the country and legitimate copies of their albums were available at major retailers in shopping centers across the country.
Perhaps Zambia shouldn’t give up on the hologram scheme yet. It is very new and the holograms themselves did cost the country quite a bit – One billion kwacha. But Mr. Zulu of the Zambia Association of Music is correct that addressing only physical infringing copies is not enough to ensure a thriving music industry.
Hat tip to Lusaka Times for information in several articles, starting with the most recent government support of the hologram program: http://www.lusakatimes.com/2013/11/22/hologram-project-flop-police-confiscating-pirated-dvds-cds-kapeya/