[Originally published in the Vanuatu Independent newspaper.]
Following a recent workshop on copyright, the plight of the local reggae group Naio was used to demonstrate how copyright legislation could improve the lot of struggling Vanuatu artists.
Unauthorised copying, they claimed, had so reduced income from CD sales that the band simply couldn’t make a living on recording alone.
While the principle of respecting creative works is one I support wholeheartedly, I need to make this clear: Recent copyright reform has done little to change the plight of performers elsewhere in the world.
There are numerous interwoven ideas wrapped up inside what people call ‘Intellectual Property’. The World Intellectual Property Organization, a UN body, clumps many of them them together under the term Copyright. In essence, it says that Copyright – the right to exercise control over one’s creation – can be exerted over any creative work, its production or its broadcast.
The idea here is quite simple: Artists deserve to be rewarded for their work. Because they share their work with the world, and because we all benefit when they do so, they should be allowed a limited monopoly on the right to reproduce the work in question.
Well, that seems perfectly reasonable.