At long last, the Liberian government has met one of the several demands of the artistic community by introducing the hologram security stamp four weeks ago, with the hope of protecting artistic and literary works.
While this government effort to impede the growth of the black market is laudable, however, the lack of a cordial relationship between the artists and the copyright office is worrisome.
The much talked about stamp comes with high class security features, which makes it very difficult to duplicate. It would 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.
Looking at the bad relationship between the creative people and the Liberia Copyright Office, I think the copyright office has more work to do to make the copyright law a success.
In order to make the copyright law impactful, authorities at the copyright office need to wake up from their idle state and launch a nationwide awareness of the copyright law, the hologram stamp and the legal benefits accrued when creative people copyright their works.
If the copyright office fails to launch a nationwide awareness, it will give pirates, who mostly pose as distributors and marketers, the edge in increasing the growth of the black market, as the presence of the copyright office will not be felt among creative people.
Almost all of the authorities at the copyright office are aware that the one reason why most creative people don’t register their works is because of the phrase in the Copyright Law that says “protection of artistic work is automatic.”
Therefore, if awareness is created, it will better explain the meaning of this phrase and where it does not apply, in the case of copyright infringement.
The awareness will also make creative people understand the Copyright Law, the benefits it provides to them when their works are registered and have the hologram stamp.
Continuing complaining about a low budget will not help; the only thing that will help is making the necessary sacrifice that will yield fruits tomorrow and bring about a cordial relationship between the office and artists.
The copyright office should also stop what artists see as a delaying tactic for the office not working speedily with line ministries to have stores not authorized to sell artistic and literary works to desist from such sales; this is damaging the reputation of the copyright office and its chances for being trusted to
protect artists and their works.
Unless awareness is carried out, the chance of the copyright law making an impact is slim.
Choosing the least of all evils by remaining idle is not bad, but it only makes efforts to fight piracy weak, and creates havoc for artists.