The Copyright Office in collaboration with the Police and some stakeholders have organised an anti-piracy exercise to clamp down pirates.
The joint exercise, which was led by the Nima District Police Commander, DSP I.A. Yakubu and his team, invaded various warehouses at Sukura, a suburb of Accra which has been described as one of the core warehouses in the city from where pirated works are stored for distribution.
In the process thousands of pirated CD, DVD and VCD works of foreign music and movies including some local ones were seized.
The local works included compilations of artistes such as K.K Fosu, Kojo Antwi, Esther Smith, Daddy Lumba, Ofori Amponsah, Barosky, Obour, Kwaku Gyasi, Ama Boahema Mama Esther, Castro, the late Bishop Michael Osei Bonsu and Maame Pokua, just to mention a few.
Local film producers such as Danfo B.A. Productions, A.A. Productions, Miracle Films, Venus Films, Movie Africa, Harry Laud Productions, O.J. Productions, etc. were not spared.
The inlays of most of the local works found were scanned together with the adhesive labels. The pirated works therefore, to a layman, would appear genuine.
In a brief statement after the exercise, DSP Yakubu expressed disappointment at the rate at which certain unscrupulous persons stole copyright works, reproduced and sold them at reduced prices at the expense of right owners.
He said the Police Service is aware these practices have deprived many composers, performers and their producers of the right to enjoy the fruit of their labour, resulting in premature deaths for some.
Throwing more light on the joint operation, the Nima Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent A. Awuni said his District Commander, DSP Yakubu, upon a tip-off, led the operation which unearthed large quantities of pirated copyright works.
He said in the process, two Nigerians, namely Muntari Issaka and Iddrissa were arrested and would be arraigned as soon as investigation is complete.
“I am informed these pirated works are imported from the neighbouring countries. I therefore call on the law enforcement agencies at the borders and the police patrol teams at various checkpoints to look out for such pirated works being imported into the country,” said the Police chief.
He stressed that the police would do all they could to encourage creativity and warned pirates to desist from such acts as the police would not allow them to have a field day.
Mr. Alfred Kumi-Atiemo, an Assistant Director in-charge of Public Relations at the Copyright Office commended the Police for the manner they handled the exercise. He said the street value of the works seized at the warehouse during the exercise was over GH¢200,000 (¢2billion).
He bemoaned the influx of pirated works and improper importation of copyright works into the country through unapproved entry points.
He said even thought CEPS and other law enforcement agencies were vigilant at the borders, the perpetuators had restructured their operations.
“Now they use unapproved routes and other tactics to outsmart the CEPS and those involved do not only deprive creators of their benefits but also deprive the nation of billions of cedis in tax revenue as they do not pay tax.
“Copyright Office and its collaborators are doing all they can to ensure that activities are brought to the minimum”.
The task of combating piracy is too much for the law enforcement agencies without the support and involvement of intellectual property owners whose rights are being infringed upon.
In an interview after the exercise, a movie producer, Mr. Socrate Sarfo of Movie Africa, expressed surprise at the large quantities of copyright materials seized in one exercise.
“These guys are killing us. The cost of film production is over five hundred million cedis. It is however difficult for any film producer to break even today as a result of piracy,” he lamented.