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Adoption of a Protocol on Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights

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By Bemanya Twebaze, Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), with support of the Government of Uganda through the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) is organizing a Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of the Draft Protocol on Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights to take place at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, in Kampala, Uganda from the 23rd  to the 24th of July 2021. 

The Protocol will establish a regional voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights, create and maintain a Regional Database for Copyright and Related Rights. The protocol is the first of its kind in Africa and will help protect the ARIPO Member States and Africa’s creative industry by ensuring that the creators benefit from their creative works. According to the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) Global Collection Report 2020, based on data collected for 2019, €10bn Euros were collected globally, and 37 Collective Management Organizations from 32 African countries reported €79.3million in total collections. This is evidence that exploitation of copyrighted works is a source of revenue for creators and contributes to growth of the economy.

Copyright has a competitive advantage in Africa. However, it is yet to realize its full potential. ARIPO, in cooperation with strategic partners, is working hard to ensure this changes. Having a regional voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights in Africa will create a conducive environment to ensure respect for the copyrighted works. The rights holders -will be incentivized to create more and explore new markets, thereby increasing their income.

It is worth noting that the creative industry contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment in countries, as evidenced from the WIPO Studies on the Economic Contribution of the Copyright Based Industries in Africa. According to the WIPO Study data from 2016, Botswana’s contribution to GDP was 5.46%, which is the highest, followed by Kenya’s 2007 data at 5.32%. South Africa is the highest on employment at 4% in 2008, followed by Malawi at 3.35% in 2009. In Tanzania, the creative industry contribution was higher than the mining and quarrying sector in 2009 and 2010 at 3.2% and 2.8%, respectively. In Malawi, the creative industry contribution was higher than that of the mining and quarrying, human health, education, construction and transport and storage sectors. Botswana’s 2018 creative industry surpassed other essential sectors such as water and electricity (0.3%), agriculture (2%), and manufacturing (5.20%). The statistics above show a great need to harness the sector and intellectual property protection in Africa by pooling our resources and cooperating with strategic partners.  

The regional voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights will enhance ARIPO’s cooperation with the national offices responsible for copyright to achieve the Protocol’s purpose. The national registration systems often hold valuable information on creativity from legal and economic perspectives and provide statistics on authors, performers, right holders, and their works, recordings, and productions in their countries. 

Benefits of Voluntary Registration of Copyright and Related Rights

The voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights will also enable an author to have a registration certificate that can be a prima facie evidence on owning that property (Copyright and Related Rights works, recordings and productions). He may approach the financial institutions for loans, collaterals or engage foreign direct investors or enter into partnership or use the different means to commercialize the property such as licensing, merchandising, selling, etc. Furthermore, in case of any disputes regarding the property, the certificate may be used as a prima facie evidence of ownership. The onus lies with the parties to prove otherwise during the settlement, and this will assist in the management and enforcement of the owner’s and rights holder’s rights. If known, the owner’s information is easier to link with a prospective investor or business person who wants to have legal access to the property. ARIPO will contribute to preserving information on creative content in the continent.

ARIPO sees the need to nurture, promote and protect Copyright and Related Rights, which is vital to the growth of Intellectual Property (IP) and has enormous cultural, economic, and social implications for the community we live in. The voluntary registration of Copyright and Related Rights reassures business communities and opens doors for rights holders. The system will enable effective coordination between Copyright Offices (COs), Collective Management Organizations (CMOs), rights holders, and users worldwide.

Ministers from ARIPO Member States will attend the Diplomatic Conference. ARIPO has 20 Member States, Botswana, The Kingdom of Eswatini, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, The Kingdom of Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Source: ARIPO (A DreamGalaxy Trusted Brand)