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    Diverging Views On IPR Protection Needs In Africa Emerge At IP Workshop

    Published on 25 March 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    01 Martins, AnifteDar es Salaam, Tanzania – Nigeria’s booming film industry, born in an intellectual property-free environment, was presented as a case study of how IP needs may vary depending on context during a recent workshop organised by the US Commerce Department. In parallel, representatives of multinational brands and law enforcement delivered a strong message on the gravity of counterfeit trade, highlighting its link to organised crime.

    Co-organised by the United States Commerce Department Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) and the African Intellectual Property Group (AIPG), a new pro-IP association, the regional workshop on Practical Approaches to IP Utilization and Protection in Africa brought together about 150 African government officials, members of law enforcement, IP practitioners, and industry representatives from 19-21 March in Dar es Salaam.

    The three-day workshop agenda [pdf] focussed on protecting intellectual property rights and the dangers of counterfeit goods. It also showcased experiences of successful African content creators, whose varying viewpoints highlighted the complex role of intellectual property, especially in the context of developing countries.

    Breaking IP Conventions in Nigeria

    Nigerian musician J. Martins and talent manager Tony Anifite discuss piracy in music industry (Photo Credit: IP-Watch)

    Nigerian musician J. Martins (left) and talent manager Tony Anifite (right) discuss piracy in music industry (Photo Credit: IP-Watch)

    “Early Nollywood was a natural experiment of creativity in the absence of intellectual property,” said Olufunmilayo Arewa, professor of law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. She is writing a book about Nigeria’s film industry, colloquially known as Nollywood, and argues that the model demonstrates that strong IPR is not necessary for innovation. “The role of intellectual property rights is complex,” she said.

    Looking back at origins of the Nigerian filmmaking boom, Charles Igwe, managing director of The Big Picture, a Nollywood production company, said that rampantly circulating fakes were actually good for business. He said that the country’s “culture of piracy” helped his films to gain widespread popularity, boost the impact of in-movie advertising, and help to fill supply gaps.

    Today, Nollywood releases some 40 to 50 films to the market every week, averaging 2,000 films per year, and surpassing the production rate of Hollywood. With a brand of its own and international notoriety, Nollywood is less appreciative of pervasive piracy today. In particular, producers are starting to fight back against so-called “30-in-1s”, massive compilation DVDs packing up to 30 pirated films on one disk.

    “They are not being made by Nigerians, they are made in China, and we want to ban the product from coming into Nigeria. We need to protect this space, so the market can grow as it should,” Igwe said.

    Nigerian musician J. Martins was also divided about the role of piracy in the music industry saying that it can make and break a musician. “Some musicians actually go to markets in Nigeria and pay pirates to get a song on one of their compilations,” Martins said.

    But his talent manager, Tony Anifite, chief operations manager of Now Muzik, disagreed. “I don’t normally like when people say, oh piracy helped us, took us far, I do not subscribe to that…. In terms of IP, there’s a great problem. We make money from shows, but collecting on royalties is a real issue.”

    For Prof. Arewa, it’s a case study in how “IP needs may vary depending on the context” and that it is important to take into account other factors such as the business life cycle, the country’s position on the development ladder, varying copyright owner interests, and the overall business environment.

    Other African artists shared their various experiences with protecting intellectual property during the three-day workshop. Senegalese fashion designer Adama Ndiaya, who goes by Adama Paris, said that she often comes across her designs, slightly altered and attributed to another name, in magazines, and said that so far, she has found no recourse. Additionally, she said that protecting her brand in African countries is an inefficient process. “To protect one of my dresses, I have to spend two hours filling out paperwork. Considering that I produce a collection of 60 dresses every two weeks, that’s a lot of wasted time,” Ndiaya said.

    Olufunmilayo Arewa, Charles Igwe, and Bob Nyanja on African film industry panel (Photo Credit: IP-Watch)

    Olufunmilayo Arewa, Charles Igwe, and Bob Nyanja on African film industry panel (Photo Credit: IP-Watch)

    Dudu Manhenga, a jazz singer from Zimbabwe and anti-piracy activist, said that she is facing new challenges protecting her works as she has started to build her presence in Europe. “My music is being played all over, while royalties are only being collected in my local area. The money is going to benefit culture in Europe, rather than in Zimbabwe,” Manhenga said.

    Counterfeit Trade: A High-Stakes Fight

    Meanwhile, representatives of multinational brands, including Hewlett Packard (HP), Unilever, Dolby Laboratories, and Japan Tobacco International (JTI), spoke out about the growing counterfeit trade and its negative consequences. Standing next to law enforcement officials, one of their key messages was its connection to organised crime and terrorism.

    According to a study commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) and conducted by Frontier Economics, the total global economic value of counterfeit and pirated products could reach $1.77 trillion per year by 2015.

    This study builds on a 2008 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) called the “Economic Impact of Counterfeiting and Piracy.” It goes beyond the OECD report by “introducing and examining categories of impacts identified and discussed but not quantified by the OECD report – the value of domestically produced and consumed counterfeit products, the value of digital piracy, and impacts on society, governments and consumers,” according to the study summary.

    During a panel presentation, Geoffrey Eyles, a regional investigations manager with HP, said, “We are concerned about the growing market share of counterfeit.” He added that counterfeiters are becoming more sophisticated, shipping the products and the labels separately to avoid copyright infringement.

    A former member of law enforcement himself, he said, “We have profound indicators that organised crime is behind a large portion of counterfeit trade.”

    Similarly, Karl Lallerstedt, director strategy and communications of JTI’s Anti-Illicit Trade Strategy, also focussed on the organised crime link, saying that there is a high profit incentive and low risk of punishment. He said that cigarettes are one of the biggest commodities in illicit trade today.

    According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, of the 400 billion cigarettes that Africans smoke per year, 60 billion are bought on the black market. A big portion of the sales is used to finance conflicts, Lallerstedt said. He also warned that “once a route has been corrupted,” it could be used to smuggle anything else including drugs, weapons, and people.

    Marie-Flore Johnson, a trial attorney with the US Department of Justice in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, addressed the challenges associated with stopping goods in transit and suggested that customs and borders officers should use a “layered approach” in controlling counterfeits. Whereby in situations in which officers do not have the legal right to examine suspicious goods, they should use other tools available to them, including communicating with officers in other countries.

    “The way around this is to build connections. Call a colleague where the goods are supposedly destined and tell them to have a look,” Johnson said, encouraging officers to take advantage of the workshop to network and meet officials from other countries.

    Indeed, networking was one of the workshop objectives. A representative of a multinational company told Intellectual Property Watch that special efforts were made to reach out to law enforcement officials participating in the meeting.

    However, some customs officials said that cracking down on counterfeits is easier said than done. A law enforcement official from Burkina Faso said during a panel session, “Since yesterday, we have been talking about the counterfeit problem, but you should know that the border control conditions in our countries are very dangerous. People are risking their lives.”

    Related articles:

    http://www.ip-watch.org/2013/03/18/african-ministers-focus-on-ip-role-in-innovation-for-development-less-on-flexibilities/

    http://www.ip-watch.org/2013/03/01/speakers-outline-ideas-for-africa-to-find-appropriate-ip-policies/

     

    Rachel Marusak Hermann may be reached at info@ip-watch.org.

     

    Comments

    1. Unilever News – 25 Mar 2013 | Finance says:

      […] 12:55 UTC Diverging Views On IPR Protection Needs In Africa Emerge At IP Workshop […]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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