The war against piracy took another successful step forward last week when the Ghana Association of Phonographic Industry (GAPI), in conjunction with the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), clamped down on music pirates in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The National President of GAPI, Mr. John Mensah Sarpong, led a combined team of personnel from the Berekum District Police Headquarters and an anti-piracy task force from Kumasi to descend on suspected ?pirates? at Berekum and Sunyani.
About 20 people in Berekum were arrested, including the owner of Family Ventures Supermarket who had in his possession a compilation of songs of various Ghanaian musicians on several CDs.
Among the items seized during the exercise were computers pirated audio and visual CDs of local musicians, VCD/DVD players and amplifiers.
Mr. Sarpong said those who were arrested during the exercise in Berekum would be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others and pledged that the exercise would continue till the piracy of musical works was reduced or stopped completely.
Mr. Sarpong said the activities of those persons were pushing music producers and musicians into debt.
He, therefore, called for the support and co-operation of the public to help flush out those criminals who were bent on killing creative works in the country and the music industry.
The GAPI National President also urged the public not to patronise pirated music CDs and VCDs as well as compilations, but endeavour to report or inform the nearest MUSIGA office about people who engaged in piracy for them to take action.
?Any person who provides information leading to the arrest of those engaged in the piracy and compilation business is rewarded with ?500,000 and I therefore appeal to the public to assist in our fight against these enemies of progress of the music industry? he said.
Mr. Sarpong quoted of section 42 of the Copyright ACT 690, which says ?any person who reproduces, duplicates, extracts, imitates or imports into the country, except for that person?s private use, any work or distributes, sells, rents, possesses for commercial purposes? commits a copyright offence.
He explained that a person who infringes a right protected under ACT 690 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than 1,000 penalty units and not less than 500 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three years or to both.
He said GAPI, an umbrella organisation of music producers had teamed up with MUSIGA to form the anti-piracy task force to help protect the creative work of musicians and producers in the country.
The National President of GAPI revealed that the moment a new album was released a copy is sent to Singapore, the base of the piracy syndicate for duplication of that album.
The pirated ones are sent to Togo because of the free port, then the local counterparts of this syndicate would use the bush path to bring into the country the pirated CDs to compete with the original.
This criminal activities, Mr. Sarpong observed, do not only lead to lost of reverence to music producers and musicians, but also to the state as this criminals do not pay royalties to original owners of the work as well as tax to the government.
?The fight against piracy in the country is a collective one and all must support if we want to preserve the country?s culture and creative art? Mr. Sarpong implored.