PNG Collective Management System for Creative Rights

By Oala Moi

The existing Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act 2000 lists and protects exclusive economic and moral rights in favor of both copyright owners and owners of derivative works, and for the past 8 years, these rights remained dormant in the absence of a legal framework and entity to regulate compliance. This is about to change fundamentally under the proposed Copyrights and Neighboring Rights (Collective Management) regulations 2008.

These regulations form part of the Copyright and Neighboring Rights (Amendment) Bill 2008, which were discussed at length in Port Moresby at Holiday Inn hotel from 1st to 2nd May 2008 during the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) National Workshop on Copyright and Related Rights and Collective Management of Rights.

At the WIPO workshop, recording artists and songwriters joined legal practitioners and representatives from government agencies, educational institutions, and the book publishing, radio, television, and recording industries for an induction on copyright and its applications before deliberating on the Amendment Bill and regulations.

“It is high time we had a copyright industry in PNG,” workshop participant and copyright advocate Oala Moi Eno said. “I join others in commending the National Government through the Investment Promotion Authority and Intellectual Property Office of PNG for collaborating with the Constitutional Law Reform Commission to finalize legislation. I understand the Amendment Bill and regulations will now be put to the National Executive Council for its sanctioning and then Parliament for approval when it next meets. This has been a longtime coming after intense arguments in favor of copyright surfaced again in early 2000”, Oala added.

Oala now challenges creators of works in key cultural industries in PNG such as music and sound recording, print and publishing, film and television, visual arts and photography, and dramatic works and theatre, to consider the benefits of collective management of rights.

According to a WIPO publication, collective management of rights makes the work of artists, authors, and other creators available to the public on a large scale. Its role in economic development is also important:

the collective management system not only helps individuals make a living from their work, it builds upon and strengthens cultural industries as well. Authors and artists in many fields have established professional organizations – generally called collective management organizations (CMOs) – to manage their copyrights, to facilitate clearance of those rights, and to ensure that they obtain economic reward for their creative output.

“Copyright is a private right and the onus is on the beholder to listen, learn and act responsibly. I know of numerous newspaper reports citing breach of copyright allegations, but in all these we stakeholders failed to get up and educate ourselves on an important issue such as copyright.

Now with government and non-government support, we can work together to highlight the importance of copyright and underline the fact that creators of copyright works have a place in society, to create works for our education, our enjoyment, our enrichment, for improving the quality of our lives”, Oala said.

The Bill provides for different groups of copyright owners in the literary and artistic field to organize themselves and setup their respective CMOs.

There is already a preliminary group of songwriters, artists and musicians united as an industry body under the name, Music Industry Association (MIA). Oala is part of MIA’s interim committee and the Chairman of the Interim Committee is popular sound producer/engineer Mr. Digby Holeong.

Oala says that MIA was born in Port Moresby at the conclusion of the Workshop for Performers and Musicians on Copyright and Neighboring Rights in PNG, which ran from 15-17 April 2008 at the UPNG Art Gallery.

“The UPNG workshop was timely as it prepared Port Moresby-based copyright owners to actively participate in the WIPO workshop. I know that facilitators of the UPNG workshop tried to involve a cross representation of copyright owners from within the music industry based in Port Moresby. Due to funding constraints, the inclusion of other regions or networks was simply not possible (at that early stage), however be assured that given time and funding, our brother and sister copyright owners in the Highlands, Momase and New Guinea Islands regions will be given a timeframe and an opportunity to discuss the essential issues as determined by the Interim Committee of the MIA. Missing out or not participating at the WIPO National Workshop was never an option because it involved an issue that would shape and control our livelihood. However, I can say that in attending the National Workshop, we, as individuals and under the MIA banner, represented your interests at a time when it was not possible to have you attend in person and in time, we will come to you. MIA is currently working on a National plan which includes conducting IPR awareness and would embark on a membership drive in due course”, Oala added.

Meanwhile, an infant copyright industry will be born after it goes through the normal legislative process and the new Director of Copyrights and stakeholders covered by this legislation will be kept busy in their efforts to ensure that the PNG Collective Management System works for the country as well as for each stakeholder.

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