African Ministers IPR Conference Addresses Issues For African Creators 09/11/2015 by Sadibou Marone for Intellectual Property Watch and Babacar Dione for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)DAKAR, Senegal — The World Intellectual Property Organization 2015 African Ministerial Conference on Intellectual Property for Emerging Africa took place last week in Dakar, the Senegalese capital where around 50 ministers gathered as well as 200 participants. Among the many themes addressed, the conference called for better recognition of the rights of artists and creators. Musicians called for a strong musicians’ union to better defend their rights, advocating for a reform of African legislation on copyright. And Africa must boost its creativity and innovation to produce sports content by learning on what others are doing, panellists said. Recognition of the Rights of African Artists More than 200 participants including ministers, inventors, experts and intellectual property staff took part at the ministerial conference on intellectual property held in Dakar from 3-5 November. Opening panel of the WIPO African Ministerial Conference on IP Participants made recommendations to boost creativity and innovation in Africa while calling for better recognition of the rights of artists and creators to ensure that they can live better with their activities, having contracts and receiving payment from internet content through downloading and streaming. The participants also called on African states to implement reforms in legislation on copyright and ensure that these reforms are consistent with international standards. They urged the continent to apply best practices to ensure that the sports industry can serve African creators. Participants also encouraged states to create integration platforms through the African Union to facilitate exchange between the artists. They invited states to focus on training artists to enable them to better master the modern tools for content management. Several artists and experts expressed their satisfaction with the conference. “We thank the WIPO because there are several similar conferences in the world but fashion designers are often left behind. We urge WIPO to further support the protection of African designers and strengthen patent rights,” said renowned African designer Alpha Di. African Musicians Blame Poorly Paid Music on the Internet African musical production downloaded from the internet is poorly paid, some participants at the conference said. “We have tubes that are often popular and which register millions of views, but they are not enough not paid enough,” said Metzo Diatta, a young Senegalese singer who was taking part in a 4 November panel on “music and audiovisuals at the crossroads: trends and strategies.” “On YouTube, an African musician may have a tube with millions of viewers but he earns far less than the tube of his US colleague, who may only have 500,000 viewers. This is difficult and paradoxical,” Diatta explained. Around 30 musicians, artists, inventors and experts took part in the panel, which considered the impact of the evolving digital ecosystem upon the production, distribution and consumption of audiovisual and music content. It also discussed what is required from governments to create an enabling environment for creativity and economic sustainability of the audiovisual and musical sectors. Participants said artists are often victims of piracy of their works, adding that solutions must be found. “If nothing is done, we will die. This is unfair,” lamented musician Daniel Gomes. According to Benoit Machuel, secretary general of the International Federation of Musicians, an ongoing study found that 90 percent of top artists have their music available on the internet. Among the main artists, 44 percent say they do not receive payment of royalties for specific use of their music. Only 23 percent receive their royalty payment for the online use of their music. “A big number of artists have a contract with a provision on payment that covers all future use of their piece, but they don’t receive payment when their pieces are exploited,” Machuel said. The study states that there is no transparency on the operational records of 60 percent of artists. Machuel is worried about the fact that musicians “receive internet sales reports that should inform them on how their recordings have been used, but they can’t find the information in order to know what was the use of their music.” In order to challenge such a situation in Africa, he has recommended the renegotiation of contracts, but highlighted the fact that “the weak actor who is the artist himself doesn’t have enough means to stomp on a lever on which it can rely to push the producer to accept his choice. Artists cannot negotiate firmly.” The secretary general of the International Federation of Musicians called for a strong musicians’ union to better defend their rights, advocating for reform of African legislation on copyright. “It is necessary that laws comply with international standards,” he said. Machuel also said that production companies must be forced to provide more detailed statements. “Artists need to be informed; producers must not create unnecessary suspicion. There is a strong need of transparency to help prevent abuses,” he said. Google Calls on African States to Train on New Content Selling Tools The head of Google in Francophone Africa urged African governments to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to understand the new internet selling tools that can mobilize big advertisers. Tidiane Dème spoke on 4 November in Dakar on a panel on “music and audiovisuals at the crossroads: trends and strategies.” Several African artists mentioned the poor income from their views on YouTube. “It belongs to collective management organisations or performing rights societies to work on training, because there is a lack of expertise to develop solutions,” Deme said, complaining about the lack of control of new internet tools. “All actors of the creative industry need to master the tools, rights, and analytical platforms on the internet so as to understand what is happening,” he said. Participants must “recognise that the majority of the content is not well monetized because of the absence of advertisers. Artists in Africa can’t be compared to those in the US where the advertising market is dynamic.” According to Deme, content placed on YouTube with very poor resolution would not be targeted by advertisers. It may have millions of views but not money, and Africans may have problems with the resolution because connectivity is often slow. Analysing the causes of the lack of control of internet tools, Irene Vieira of the Côte d’Ivoire copyright office said it’s an absence of communication between the performing rights societies and the rights holders. “If communication is established, solutions could be found,” said Vieira. She asked Google to rely more on performing rights societies to better facilitate respect for artists’ rights. As Africa has huge potential in terms of content, actors must discuss how to better understand the mechanisms involved because there is a great future for African content once the connectivity issues are resolved. From his side, Aziz Dieng, former board president of the Senegal copyright office, said that urgent solutions must be found. “African music needs new business models because it’s no longer sold like before,” he said. Africa Must Boost Creativity, Innovation of Sports Content Africa must boost its creativity and innovation to produce sports content, according to Howard Stupp, director of legal affairs at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who was speaking on a 3 November panel on the strategic use of intellectual property in the sport industry. “Africa must learn what others are doing. This can give very good ideas. Perhaps Africa is not aware of what others are doing,” he said. According to Simone Lahorgue Nunes from Brazil, the sports industry generates lot of revenue. In 2013, it generated US$ 133 billion versus US$ 145 billion in 2015. Countries like Brazil benefit from the sports industry through sponsorship and content production that has allowed the construction of sports facilities in the country. In such a context, Africa is lagging behind, according to Abdoulaye Sakho, founder and director of the Master of Sports Law at the University of Dakar. “Intellectual property does not benefit the development of the sports industry in Africa,” he regretted, despite the fact that the continent is widely represented in all major sport events. According to him, sponsorship only benefits individuals. He believes that an economic approach to sport events must be developed. “We must implement a strategy to obtain a return in all sports events that involve Africa,” Sakho said. Stupp agreed that Africa has the potential to produce content. “We must see what developed countries do, and not exactly do what they do, but adapt it to the African context,” he said. “In so doing, laws must be understood and respected so as to fight piracy.” According to Mactar Sylla, chief executive officer, MS Consulting, the media has a greater role to play by helping popularize and make accessible knowledge on intellectual property issues. Image Credits: WIPO Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Sadibou Marone may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Babacar Dione may be reached at email@example.com."African Ministers IPR Conference Addresses Issues For African Creators" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.