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Sensitization enough, prosecute now! – Socrate Safo on piracy

Piracy in the creative arts industry has robbed entertainers of their revenue over the years.

Successive governments and creative arts groups have dedicated time and resources to educate pirates about the need to appreciate artists.

The Director for Creative Arts at the National Commission on Culture (NCC), Socrate Safo, thinks it is time to divert resources towards the prosecution of piracy offenders.

“I’ll not support any fund or budget to educate people on piracy.  We know and need to do the right thing. These pirates are aware their acts are against the law. If they’re arrested, acts of piracy will reduce, and that is the only way they’ll learn…. we now need to spend time arresting them,” he said.

According to him, monies spent on piracy education can be channelled to other aspects of the creative arts industry.

Background

Piracy takes many forms across Africa, including signal piracy, peer-to-peer file sharing, illegal streaming, and bootleg DVDs.

Pirates operating at a commercial level tend to use bit torrents to access content illegally.

This is then sold to street distributors who offer content for sale on the street. The buyer will then share it with his or her friends, usually at no cost. Mobile apps, particularly on the Android platform, are facilitating the rapid growth of stolen content.

The trends in mobile content piracy across Asia, which has a head start technologically in Africa, indicate that the fight against piracy will need to be intensified to protect local content, local TV channels and ensure that African markets benefit from their creative industries.

Since the 1990s, representatives of the global media industry have been lobbying politicians and law enforcement to strike down rampant piracy of movies, music, and videogames.

In March 2012, an Accra Metropolitan Police action-themed  ‘Operation jail the pirates’ led to the arrest of 19 people during a raid of alleged music pirates at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange.

Five of the suspects were sentenced under the 2005 Copyright Act to hefty fines.

Due to their inability to pay, the court sentenced defaulters to 2-year prison sentences.

The fight against piracy has been ongoing with a more focused approach on education that industry players feel is not enough.

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