Ghana President intervenes in copyright controversy



Ghana President intervenes in copyright controversy

After months of debate, the President of Ghana has intervened in a controversy between concerned musicians and music lawyers in Ghana and the Copyright Office in the country.

The new proposed Copyright Bill in Ghana could violate musicians fundamental human rights, argues the coalition, COCCA, consisting of top Ghanaian composers, musicians and lawyers.

A representative from COCCA, on March 2nd was called to the Presidents Office and given a formal letter saying the President has refused to accent to the bill, and has sent it to the Minister of Justice to meet COCCA for review.

“This is a victory for all of us and we pray that we can synergise for the right thing to be done for the betterment of the arts and music as a whole” says Francis Twum of COCCA to Freemuse.

The proposal has – according to the coalition – a tendency to increase the power of the (State) Copyright Office to the disadvantage of the Music Industry and other copyright owners.

The new bill could also – according COCCA -be used to impose fees (taxes) on Ghanaians who use folklore in their music. This would include those musicians who since generations have preserved the traditional knowledge.

Freemuse does not focus on copyright issues but on freedom of expression for musicians and composers. However Freemuse has through Executive Committee member, Krister Malm assisted the Ghanaian musicians with knowledge and advice on this issue.
Krister Malm, who apart from being a Freemuse founding member also is the President of ICTM, the International Council for Traditional Music, has dealt with copyright legislation and international conventions for more than thirty years and says:

“The new Ghanaian legislation is probably according to WIPO guidelines. But the application of the legislation seems twisted. I can’t understand how the Ghanaian government can claim that tolls taken from bona fide performers of traditional music are in line with WIPO recommendations”.

In a forthcoming seminar in Dakar organized by Freemuse, Rex Omar, top musician in Ghana, will inform colleagues from West Africa about the campaign run by COCCA.

Follow the links for more information:

Ghana Music.Com

News in Ghana on-line

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