A group of artists and inventors, comprising of 20 individuals, has urged the Liberia Intellectual Property (IP) to engage in more awareness, which will help to educate them and their peers about the intellectual property, its legal framework and benefits.
The artists and inventors noted that low levels of IP awareness among them has made it easier for their works to be infringed upon because said works have not been protected to enable them seek redress when needed.
The appeal was made during the questions and answers period of the “Intellectual Property (IP) Clinic,” organized by the Liberia Intellectual Property Office, to discuss the importance of IP, the value of it as an asset in commerce and economic development, and the present status of IP in Liberia. Among the participants were a large number of artists and inventors as well as users of IP.
Held at YMCA on April 25, 2018, the IP Clinic, the first of its kind since the establishment of LIPO, aimed to enlighten them on the legal framework of intellectual property and the essence of the moral and economic rights.
DJ Weezy, CEO of Naymo Record and manager of PCK and L’ Frankie, two of Liberia’s finest artists, said the IP clinic was indeed an eye opener for them in the creative sectors because they are now understanding the country’s IP law and its legal framework, which is crucial to creation of an enabling environment and a society knowledgeable about IP.
Weezy added this IP clinic has enlightened him and the members of the creative sector about the benefits of IP, which they were not educated about before. He noted that the continuation of this awareness is crucial to help them to avoid the losses they incur on a daily basis.
“You can believe that as CEO of a record label, which owns two of Liberia best artists, none of their songs are copyrighted because I never had the knowledge about this whole IP thing.
“This lack of knowledge is affecting many of us, so we are kindly appealing for an extension. We need this kind of discussion frequently for the betterment of the industry. Today, we have learned a lot and now going home to apply it,” DJ Weezy added.
“From today’s seminar we have been educated about our rights as IP holders and how we can go about benefiting when our works are registered,” said Joseph S.K Pambu, an ICT trainer and consultant. “Not only my inventions but also to care about other people’s inventions and the penalty for infringement.”
LIPO’s Acting officer-in-charge, Prince Decker, said the seminar comes at a time when the problems caused by lack of IP awareness among artists and inventors continue to have a disturbing financial effect on their trade. Because they lack a basic understanding of the law, they don’t register their works, he noted.
Mr. Decker added that in order to curb these financial losses, the players in the industry need to firstly understand IP and its legal framework; and once they understand it they will start to reap the benefits.
“If we are to build a society that will be knowledgeable about IP, it is essential that we reach out to the creators, to ensure that they are equipped with the IP knowledge needed to succeed in their field and avoid people exploiting them.
“While it is the truth that IP has the potential to help reduce poverty, create employment and accelerate economic growth, this can only be done through comprehensive public awareness campaigns, to boost understanding of the system and its potential benefits, which we are doing now,” Decker said.
“Educating the industry’s players about IP is crucial in harnessing the economic benefits of IP, which is vital to the longevity of creative industries; they will be their own security by suing people who pirate or infringe on their creations.”
Decker added that in a recent study by LIPO, it was discovered that 80% of creators know that IP is important, but don’t have the knowledge needed to support them in their future careers. So to give them this knowledge, LIPO decided to host the IP Clinic and beef up the year-long nationwide awareness campaign that it started.
The seminar yesterday was part of LIPO’s celebration of World IP Day, observed today (April 26), under the theme: ‘Piracy is a Public Enemy for our Economic Growth, Stop Piracy to Empower Innovation and Creativity.’
World IP Day is a day on which the global IP community joins with others to acknowledge the fundamentally important role of IP in promoting innovation and development throughout the world.