Tribune / Presse
Article paru dans
N° 2470 - 17/03/2005


"The authorities are accomplice of the pirates"

First numerical studio of West Africa and duplication of tapes in Mali, Mali K7 decided to close at the same time as Seydoni-Mali because of the piracy of the artistic works. To know some more, we met the director of Mali K7, Philippe Berthier, who is very angry against the authorities.

Les Echos: Why do you close?
Philippe Berthier: it is because of economic reasons; there are so much pirated cassettes on the market that we don’t sell legal cassettes any more. Now, we work on average 3 to 4 days per month. It’s not easy to ensure the wages by working 4 days per month. We cannot pay the electricity, the telephone. It’s extremely difficult.

Les Echos: Since you are established in Mali what dot the authorities concretely made against piracy?
Philippe Berthier: Piracy has always existed in Mali. When I arrived, there were practically only pirated cassettes. We tried to form, to explain that it was necessary to manufacture legal cassettes. We could convince some people, who started to make real productions, who produce artists in legality.
But for a few years, there is a total recognition of piracy. There is currently no legal cassette on the market. It’s easy to check. You take any walking seller of cassettes in the street; you look at all the cassettes in his paperboard, if you find a legal cassette, you are lucky. There is 1 % of legal cassettes against 99 % pirated.
The current Minister for the Culture helped us, but I think that he doesn’t have the means of his policy. He doesn’t manage to free important things to carry out serious operations in the fight against piracy. We close because economically it’s very difficult.

Les Echos: Do you pay taxes to the government?
Philippe Berthier: We pay rights, taxes, all what we must pay. We pay rights to the artists, to the BMDA. There are taxes which were versed to the government. The government wins more on a cassette than the artist. Therefore, it has to do its work by stopping the robbers. Piracy, according to the Malian law, is a crime, therefore pirates are criminals. But what we see? The criminals are in the street and we let them live. This is not normal.

Les Echos: does this mean that the government does not do its work?
Philippe Berthier: On this point, the government does not do its work. The office in charge of the problems of piracy, the BMDA, if you want to drink tea you go in their court and you will find their agents taking tea quietly. If the work of the BMDA is to make tea, we do not understand its mission; its work, in our opinion, consists on one hand in regulating the problems of the artists and on the other hand in fighting against piracy. In all the countries of the world, the offices of the author’s rights are there for that.

Les Echos: people say that there are several small units of pirate cassettes. Do you know them?
Philippe Berthier: In all the countries of the world we see it. You go to the market, you buy cassettes, there are people who have radios, you ask them to make you a copy, and this is also illegal. That is done in front of everyone. The BMDA knows all the pirates of Bamako. It knows who do what. The day we close, we received a paper saying that we are controlled by the national direction of trade and competition. We are victim of unfair competition and we are the one who are controlled. I am not content, if I must close definitively, but I do it. I am not the only loser. The Malian culture will lose too.

Les Echos: Can you evaluate the losses?
Philippe Berthier: They are priceless. It’s not only us who lose, it’s everybody. It’s thousands of people who lose in this closing. The government loses hundreds of million and the artists also. There will be unemployed people.

Les Echos: in your opinion, what must be the behaviour of the authorities to stop the plague?
Philippe Berthier: I said that piracy in Mali is considered as a crime. The criminals must be indicted, judged and put in jail, while paying fines. Their "goods" must be seized and incinerated.

Les Echos: What do you think about the creation of an anti-pirate brigade?
Philippe Berthier: The brigade, it’s five police officers. Do you think that five police officers can be enough to collect the pirate cassettes in Bamako and through the country? I think that this is not sufficient. There should be real operations at the beginning and after small brigades. It’s a drop in the sea. It’s not by collecting small retailers that that will finish.