By Yankuba Jallow

The Minister of Tourism and Culture Hamat NK Bah, has signed the Copyrights Regulation 2018. They are the rules governing the operation of copyright in the country and the National Council for Arts and Culture is entrusted to enforce the Law.

Speaking at the gathering, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Cordu L. Jabang, said the ceremony has brought into force the Copyright Act 2004; that the Act encourages and rewards creativity and that it is designed to balance the economic and moral rights of creators, authors and inventors with the interest of the society, in using and enjoying their creative expressions.

“While the immediate outcome of this Law is to secure a fair and just return for a creator’s creative endeavors, the ultimate aim is to clearly stimulate artistic ingenuity for the general public good (benefit)”, she said.

On his part Hamat Bah, the Minister of Tourism said the Copyright Act which is designed for the protection of copyright in The Gambia and matters connected therewith, was passed by the National Assembly in 2004; that the Act places the administration of copyright in the NCAC and goes further to mandate the setting up of two outfits for the implementation of an effective copyright regime; that one is the Copyright Office or Bureau under the NCAC, charged specifically with the registration of works, sensitization of rights holders and users, and enforcement of compliance with the law, especially against piracy and the misuse of protected works. Bah further added that the other body is the Collecting Society of The Gambia (CSG) which is charged with the collection and distribution of royalties among rights holders; that this is an independent corporate body that comprises rights holders and has a Board that constitutes representatives of individual groups of rights holders such as Writers, Publishers, Musicians, Theatre practitioners, Film Makers and others.

“All that the NCAC does as a member of the board, is to represent the interests of Government which is the legitimate signatory to the International Treaties that Govern copyright. The NCAC is not there to work at cross purposes with board members or artists and creators for that matter. It is there to play a supporting role and help in transmitting your resolutions to my Ministry or Government for that matter”, he said.

In addition, Bah said he wanted to observe that it is in the interest of Government to see to it, that there is an effective copyright regime.

“As Government cannot provide jobs to all citizens, it is trite policy for Government to provide or facilitate gainful self-employment to citizens. The arts or creative industries is one such area that has huge potential to alleviate the unemployment burden. This is particularly important for the youthful population many of whom have chosen the arts for their livelihood. The least Government can do is to provide the enabling legislation and environment for them to gain a decent livelihood from their preoccupations”, he said.

Bah said ensuring an effective copyright regime can be viewed as part of this effort on the part of Government and that effective copyright serves to inspire more creativity.

“Once a creator knows that he or she stands to gain from his/her original creations, he/she will be motivated to deliver more original creations, assured of benefits to self and dependents for a considerable period, in our case for 50 years, after the passing of the original creator”, he concludes.

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