After seven years of delays, the Liberia Copyright Office has finally introduced the long awaited one million hologram security stamps in Liberia. The stamp’s introduction is intended to stem the growth of the black market of artistic and literary works.
The stamp, which comes with world class security features, and cannot be duplicated, will cost US$0.10 (ten US cents) to be placed on a single work of an artist’s.
The holographic stamp protects and distinguishes the authentic works of an artist from pirated ones, therefore helping artists to benefit more from their works.
Meanwhile, although many pundits lauded the Copyright Office for such a move, the lack of cooperation between artists and the Copyright Office raises some uncertainties among said pundits.
Clifford B. Robinson, Officer-in-Charge of the Copyright Office, narrates that the introduction of the stamp would enhance the protection of literary and artistic works in Liberia.
However, re-echoing his usual statement on the importance of collaboration, he said the war against pirates would be difficult to win if artists, who are the real victims, “stay away from the fight by not protecting their works with us.”
“It is time to let go of the noise and work. We have done our part and will continue to do it. Now the artists have the greatest task either to register their work with the copyright office or not. We cannot force them because it’s for their own good.
“Take advantage of this opportunity by disregarding the saying that ‘too much bureaucracy among line ministries will slow down the realization of the hologram stamp functions.’ Nothing like that will ever happen.
“The government is now prepared to initiate this war against pirates, every line ministry is now on board, and willing to work,” Mr. Robinson assured creative people.
According to the copyright boss, any artistic or literary work that remains unregistered three months from now will be considered a pirated work; whether it is from the original owner or not.
He further explained that before the hologram stamp is issued to any creative person, they have to apply for it, likewise with marketers or distributors.
“The process is new and it is not even difficult. Even if any artist wishes to license their work to anyone or a distributor wishes to do so, they have to do that in our presence.”
Mr. Robinson added: “We will be serving as a neutral person to the agreement, and when they agreed on the number of copies, if it’s 100 or not, every single one of the work will have to be presented at the office before a hologram stamp is placed on it.”
“For royalties,” he noted, “distributors or anyone who have interest to license a work from creative people will have to give the artists their 10 percent royalties up front; nothing like going to sell before paying up. It is mandatory. Anyone refusing means we
cannot issue you the hologram stamp. Therefore when the work is placed on the market, it’s considered a pirated work.”
Meanwhile, the copyright boss said no action will be taken against pirates until the three-month grace period ends, which is given to them to rid the market of pirated goods.
Making remarks on behalf of the collective society, the President of the Liberia National Culture Union, Kekura Kamara, noted that the hologram stamp will bring an end to the piracy that is killing them. He urged artists to “rush and take advantage of this new golden opportunity.”
The stamp has finally arrived showing the government’s preparedness to fight the black market of artistic products, which is now turning into a million dollar venture.
Coming with high security features that cannot be duplicated is great but if the major primary challenge, which has to do with the lack of cooperation between artists and the Copyright Office, is not handled, it will gradually affect the implementation of the stamp.
If that happens, then the fight against piracy will not make any impact because government will find it difficult to win any case against pirates for not having the works registered.
Also, this failure will even weaken government’s efforts to increase support to the creative sector, and terming artists as people who are not ready for business.
This is a mutually beneficial relationship. Government has made an investment by bringing in the hologram stamp, at the end of the day, they expect to gain revenue from it to reinvest in the industry.
Anything to the contrary, resulting in government losing, may slowly affect the artistic industry. So artists now need to rush and register their works for just US$0.10 cents.
On the other hand, government should be willing to fight piracy. Any failure on their part, after creative people rush in to register or protect their works, will cause havoc.
Finally, the payment of 10 percent royalty up front should not be mere talk, but an objective that will be fully implemented.
Now it is about time that both parties trust each other for their collective success.