April 5, 2005

The Collective of the artists and producing victims of piracy

The fight against piracy was the topic of "Question d'actualité " (a broadcast of the national television) of Sunday April 03, 2005. An initiative that "the Collective of the artists and producers victims of piracy" greets because there's nothing better than a debate to confront opinions and strategies. Unfortunately, that of April 03, 2005 has not achieved its goal for two fundamental reasons. The first is that piracy is a national problem. To give a chance to the majority of the citizens to know what piracy is, what are the ins and the outs; the debate should have been done in a language understood at least by the ¾ populations: the bambara!
The second reason is that some participants let themselves overflowed by their passion and their frustration so much that they concealed the essential or got mixed up in the standpoint. This led them to be less consequent and less realistic in their declarations and especially in the solutions suggested. The representative of the ministry for the Culture completely passed beside the subject by speaking of renewal . instead of concrete measures taken by his department to cleanse the market. The Malian Office of authors' rights (BUMDA) has especially illustrated by a perpetual escape. We agree with them when they speak about specialization in the sector, of grooming of the texts because the legislation is in total discrepancy with economic and cultural realities of the time. Otherwise the remainder border on demagogy.

"We did this, the government made that." said the director of the BUMDA to the majority of the questions which were asked to clear up the shadiness zones. Our opinion is that the debate should not be any more at this level.
It must rather relate to the efficacy of the government's initiatives and the actions of the BUMDA to cleanse the market. This is the pith of this debate. All the things the government did up to that point is in conformity with its constitutional engagement to guarantee quietude to all the citizens and to protect all the economic actors against the unfair competition.
Without forgetting that it also has interest to fight against piracy because music brings back at least 1 billion per annum to the Treasury.

The contribution of the government to the BUMDA passed from 5 to 110 million F CFA. The government spent more than 50 million to offer to the BUMDA the material necessary to affix stickers on the cassettes (sum refunded by the producers and distributors). These are the arguments that the BUMDA generally take out again to give itself the beautiful role in this salutary fight. The unwillingness of the Director of the BUMDA is there. They always asserted that they do not have human means for the operations of seizure of the cassettes. But, when the two units (Mali K7 and Seydoni-Mali) closed, we saw the BUMDA getting back 20 000 cassettes, in one morning, near the Dabanani.

The struggle against piracy can be carried out effectively only if there is a constant presence of the agents in charge of repression on the ground. The engagement of the minister Cheick Oumar Cissoko with the artists is sure.
But some executive of his department still do not manage to accompany this manifest will. Today, the major concern of the person in charge for Bumda consists in dividing the actors of the musical production for better reigning. Otherwise, how can we understand that the jackets of the cassettes which licences were sold to the pirates are authorized at the time when the profession shouts with the unfair competition? Definitely, the ridiculousness does not kill in this country.

How can we understand that the first organism in charge of the fight against piracy simply opposes to the destruction of the works seized as stipulated in the texts? What can we then say about the reaction of Mr. Harouna Barry?
As an artist, his step is comprehensible; he has no album on sale. The Malians still remember his bet in 1992, when he undertook to put an album on sale by taking delivery of the new material offered by Alpha Oumar Konaré.
It was necessary to wait the eve of the Africa Cup of the Nations "Mali 2002" to see the first album of the Badema National, of which he was in charge, on sale. As a member of the board of directors of the Bumda, he has surprised more than one Malian, he who, by nature always charges the State by his standpoint. He arrived as the saver of the Bumda, he set out, the head low.

The discussions must now relate to the effects of the efforts authorized.
What did the contribution of the government to the authors' rights change?
Which was the impact of the affixing of stickers in the fight against piracy? These are essential questions which answers allow to have an idea of the efficacy or the inefficacity of the government's initiatives or of the struggle strategies of the BUMDA.

Its director carefully avoided this ground because he knows that it is unfavourable for him. And apart from the representative of Mali K7 and Habib Koité, the others played the same game on the stage. It is obvious that the sticker had no positive impact on the fight against piracy. That is in any case invisible. On the contrary, piracy did not cease growing. Some of us had attracted the attention of the BUMBA on the fact that an effort of communication to support and accompany the affixing of stickers was necessary. It's important that the consumers know what sticker is, why it is affixed on a cassette, what are the advantages to buy a cassette carrying a sticker? It is true that this work of communication is not incumbent upon them only. But, if it had really played its role like some producers and distributors, the impact of the sticker would have been more palpable.

Concerning the seizure and the destruction of the pirated cassettes, the legislation does not leave any ambiguity on the subject. A counterfeited cassette among 1 million legal cassettes, all the batch is seized. And we do not remember any disposition of the law authorizing the BUMDA to give back the legal cassettes. Even if there's a supposed gap in the law in this direction, it must rather benefit to those who really invest themselves in developing the sector and not to those who hide in shadow to despoil the actors of the fruits of their investments.

Since the ORTM promises to organise another debate in three months to evaluate the way covered, we dare to hope that the aspects raised above will be taken into account on this occasion in order to better inform on the question of piracy.