Copyright Boss Clears The Air

The Copyright Administrator, Bernard K. Bosumprah, has declared that the copyright sector is made up of various groups of copyright owners such as composers, music producers, film producers, actors, writers, publishers, journalists, visual artists, etc. According to him, surprisingly, it is only a small section of the music rights holders who have been creating confusion in the copyright sector in Ghana. Reacting to a publication in the DAILY GUIDE of Wednesday November, 25 which called on the Honourable Attorney-General to probe the Copyright Administrator for his actions and inactions which have lead to “Tragic Disaster” in COSGA and the copyright sector, Bosumprah said the copyright office and COSGA are two separate and independent outfits. “The copyright office has two categories of staff, namely legal and non-legal, who are all government employees”, he said. The copyright boss noted it was unfortunate that at a time when the copyright office is hosting a training programme organized by WIPO and NORCODE for citizens of 22 countries drawn from Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, some persons who do not know what goes on in the copyright office should be making such publications. “How much funds does the copyright office generate on its own or receives from government? Anybody who is close to the copyright office and knows what goes would not hesitate to praise it for its efforts in implementing the Copyright Law with little or no resources. Issues of copyright, as usual, have been matters of the media. I will therefore raise a few issues and the public will be their own judge for the said publication”, he lamented. Explaining further, the Copyright Administrator said the copyright office put in place measures to amend the Copyright Law, P.N.D.C. Law 110 because the penalty provisions, technological developments and international obligations have overtaken the law. It was not until 2005 that the law received Presidential Assent due to media opposition from the same group of persons. Bernard Bosumprah, who was not happy with media publication engineered by a group calling itself Concerned Members of COSGA (CMC), declared that COSGA is a private entity independent of the copyright office. It has its own staff, board of directors, and is the main collecting society for copyright owners. “The same group of people formed a collecting society and opposed COSGA, in covert, the media and in the Copyright Bill. COSGA was not saved by the Copyright Act 2005, Act 690. All the same COSGA was functioning, but the same group of people was in the media to call on users of musical and other copyright works not to pay royalties. We, the staff of the copyright office, think it is rather the unproductive attitude and negative utterances of some music rights holders that have turned COSGA and the music industry (but not the entire copyright sector) into a “Tragic Disaster”, he stressed. On the issue of adhesive stickers, the copyright boss hinted that the gamugram stickers were introduced by music producers and the copyright office to fight piracy. The same group of people instituted a writ in the High Court to stop the system and waged persistent media wars against the gamugram. Today, if there is a growing incidence of piracy, who is responsible? Bernard Bosumprah revealed that a former Attorney-General, Papa Owusu Ankomah, in December 2004 called for a Legislative Instrument (LI) to implement the Copyright Act, adding that until today the same group of people opposed the LI. “Thank God the present Attorney-General has put her foot down to get the LI through. If it takes 5 years instead of 21 working days to pass an LI, who is responsible for the tragedy in the sector?” The copyright office, according to him, has the trained personnel to administer copyright laws, and since 1998 the copyright office has had nothing to do with the management of COSGA. If something goes wrong without the right technical direction, who is to blame? He was also of the view that Ghanaians will bear the copyright office witness for its immense effort to fight piracy. Recently the office, assisted by the police, brought to book persons pirating the just-ended World Under-20 tournaments held in Egypt. He disclosed that the office also undertook anti-piracy exercises in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions. The culprits are in court in the various regional capitals. “The office, at different times, on tip-offs, collected about 3 KIA-full loads of pirated music and movies at different locations in Sukura and Russia in Accra”, he said. Bernard Bosumprah stated that he cannot and does not perform his functions in isolation from the other staff members of the copyright office. “The public should therefore be mindful of the fact that such publications on falsehood do not tarnish the image of only the Copyright Administrator but also the integrity of the entire staff of the copyright office. It is time that the persons who have been in perpetual opposition and derailing efforts at moving the copyright sector forward are brought to book”, he counseled.