Distributors, Marketers Frustrate Liberian Artists

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Nearly every distributor and marketer in Liberia illegally carry on copyright infringement of music, movies and other creative works- a LIB Life investigation has discovered.

The investigation came after the death of veteran Liberian actor Karma Soko, who died a very poor man because his artistic right was illegally infringed.

The pirated work is cheaper as a single music can be transferred from a computer to a phone for L$10, movie L$15 and the multi 10 in 1 disc L$100.

The excess of foreign movies, especially Indian season movies on the Liberian market is the result of distributors and marketers illegally downloading these movies from the internet and extending it to more than 13 seasons.

Most distributors and marketers that were interviewed during consented that foreign movies can be easily pirated, followed by Liberian comedian movies and music, which do not bear copyright stamps and therefore lack protection.

During the investigation we noticed that most creative people exposed their work to pirates by sending the link for free download on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, thus making it easier for copyright infringement.

Veteran Liberian artist and founder of the Liberia Visual Arts Academy (LiVArts), Leslie Lumeh said artists have the right to produce their work and it’s the duty of the state to provide protection for these intellectual properties.

“Regrettably the state has failed to protect the creative work of Liberian artists, who spend a lot of time getting these creation done,” he said adding, “leaving their artwork vulnerable to copyright infringement and causing a situation where the artist does not benefit from his work and often die poorly.”

Mr. Lumeh explained that the only way the war against copyright infringement can be realized is when the government and its copyright office dedicate full steadfastness to the cause.

“We cannot defeat these guys as long as our government sees their ugly act and still collect revenues from them as legal business entities,” he said.

But the investigation gathered that most distributors and marketers, who are engaged in copyright infringement, are foreign nationals who register their businesses as electronic shops while selling pirated work.

“It is very sad that our artists are not benefitting from their handwork. But let them be patient, we are working in their interest,” said Clifford Robinson, Jr., who is the officer-in-charge of the Liberian Copyright Office.

Mr. Robinson said, “We are not so blind that we don’t see these pirated works that have taken over the Liberian market, causing difficulties in which the artist isn’t able to live from his work.”

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