Piracy of artistic works in Liberia has been a huge setback to the Liberian entertainment industry, hampering growth and creating a situation in which many Liberian artists barely benefit from their work. Many artists now rely on invitations and events, which produce still little income and are not as often as needed.
Awards winning musician Eric Geso says piracy is affecting every part of his music life.
“I should have make money from my songs and be living a comfortably by now but because of this copyright infringement thing are move well,” Eric Geso said.
But sensational singer, Sweetz, who is give an opposing view think that piracy is not the main obstacle and problem associated with the industry growth.
“Take on piracy it’s not a bad thing. It will give the industry much exposure like it did with Nigeria,” she says.
She noted: “The problem that is hold back the industry is artists not having the right team to push them forward.”
Speaking with former Liberian copyright boss, Ernest Bruce, as to why copyright laws in Liberia is slack that pirated films and music is flourish in the market. Mr. Bruce said that the lack of political will in government is to blame.
According to Mr. Bruce, Liberia has a very good copyright law that can eliminate or minimize piracy from all angles, including the protection of international work.
“There is some opposition among government officials that work directly with the copyright office to implement these regulations,” says Mr. Bruce. “This leaves artists and the copyright office vulnerable to pirates,” he said.
He said further the increase in foreign pirated works on the Liberian market has exposed government’s limitation to fulfill numerous international treaties signed to battle piracy.
He said also “If the power was invested in the copyright office to have its own police to carry on operation by them, Liberian movies and art industry could flourish.”
“During my time at the copyright office, we launched operation Big Fish a few years back and pirates got scared,“ he said, adding that since then piracy has increased because the campaign was not fully supported by the government.
He noted that with political will from government official in the fight against pirated works, the long-awaited dream of entertainers benefiting from their works would be a reality
He added that political will doesn’t only mean fighting alongside the copyright but also the eagerness to prosecute individuals caught in such an act.
“It’s very unfortunate that we have an author as president of Liberia but that things are not going well for artists,” he said. “The art, culture and entertainment industry being overlooked by government can boost revenue income, increasing middle class status.
Mr. Bruce said regulation is not only about putting the laws in place but ensuring that a better framework is laid across the country.
He appealed to government to give the needed focus in the war against piracy, or the future of many talented Liberian artists uncertain.