‘ Copyright legislation set for review’

Local artists have been assured protection of their artistic works against piracy through the planned amendment of existing legislation, Deputy Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Juliana Shonza, declared yesterday.

Shonza admitted during the question-and-answer session in the august House that the existing Copyright and Neighbouring Act of 1999, has shortcomings and hence making it difficult to efficiently deal with piracy.

The Deputy Minister explained on the other hand that despite the faults in the legislation the government organisation charged with enforcement of the law, the Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) was under another government ministry.

“This is another problem, COSOTA is under the Ministry of Industry and Trade and yet artistes fall under the docket of the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports,” Shonza stated in response to a supplementary question by Mikumi MP, Joseph Mbilinyi (Chadema).

The Mikumi MP, best known for his stage name ‘Professor Jay’ had expressed concerns that piracy continues to be a bottleneck to success for seasoned and upcoming local artists and challenged the government to table the legislation for amendment in the National Assembly.

“It is high time the copyright and intellectual property laws were amended because they have proved to be toothless while local artistes and performers continue to suffer from piracy of their work,” the famous ‘Bongo Flava’ maestro turned politician charged.

The Deputy Minister concurred with the argument raised by Mbilinyi and assured him the government was working to transfer COSOTA from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to the Information, Culture, Arts and Sports docket to pave the way for reviews of the legislations.

Earlier, responding to a basic question by Kinondoni MP, Maulid Mtulia (CCM), Shonza stated that despite flaws in the laws, ignorance among local artists on their rights and existing regulations is also to blame for piracy.

She noted on the other hand that the government has drafted model contracts in simple Kiswahili and English languages to guide local artistes when entering into contracts with sponsors and promoters.

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Author: ALVAR MWAKYUSA in Dodoma

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