Intellectual property policy coming on at last

With an Intellectual Property (IP) policy firmly in place, these youngsters of the Babawatoto Samba Reggae band performing at the National Museum and House of Culture, late last month, would get a better reward for their creations. (Photos by Iman Mani)


FOR years, local stakeholders of the Creative Industry (CI) have been complaining of the need for some regulations over sales and general usage of their artworks, with very little or no results.

As from last week this undesirable situation looks to be changing, due to the initiative taken by various stakeholders, including the government.

The five-day workshop was actually conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in collaboration with the Tanzania Film Federation (TAFF) and the Tanzania Music Network (TAMUNET). Those present represented a broad section of the CI together with experts in Intellectual Property (IP) policy drafting.

Their task was to come up with a suitable amendment to the intended IP policy draft. Ernest Omalla, a consultant of Business Development with focus on Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) growth provided the ‘Daily News’ with the background to last week’s gathering.

In 2003, he was engaged by the TAFF to do a small study so that they could understand whether the IP policy draft of the government covered stakeholders’ inputs. Through this exercise, it was discovered stakeholders’ inputs, from ground level, was not really included.

From this point the TAFF and the TMN requested the Ministry of Industry and Trade to give them the chance to call stakeholders together, so that they can review the film policy draft, to understand the areas that their concerns were not covered.

As a consultant, Omalla helped them go through the draft supported with funds from Best AC, an advocacy capacity building NGO. They did a small study, with benchmark from other countries, particularly concerning with copyrights. “We went through copyright policies of countries like Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda and Namibia, for an African context.

Thereafter, we went to developed countries such as Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the USA to see how we can fit in, as well as on a development perspective, as well as an emerging economy perspective,” he said.

Through this action, they came with a stakeholders’ report with inputs and recommendations, on how they would like to be covered in that particular policy.

TAFF and TNM then went in collaboration with all other stakeholders of the CI, streamlined their inputs and recommendations, which they gave to the government to be included in the policy document. It is since then May 2014, when this document was handed over to the Ministry that there have not been any feedbacks.

A follow-up was done and representatives of the CI approached the Ministry and last week’s workshop was arranged. In fact, this became the second-time stakeholders were given the chance to revaluate their inputs and recommendations.

This revaluation exercise was done together with the technical drafters of policy documents present. This consisted experts from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), and a number of various institutions of the government, to sit with representatives of the CI then go step by step through the intended IP policy draft.

One of the participants, who has been on this issue from its beginning is the Chairman of the TAMUNET John Kitime. He first started getting into this issue in 2011 and believes now they’re heading towards getting to the peak.

He told the ‘Daily News’ that just the mere fact that such crucial people within the CI sector were able to sit down in discussion for the entire week, was a recommendable job.

“If the government and the private sector can come together friendly and work towards the country’s wellbeing, that’s one of the requirements to having something better in operation,” he added. He maintains that after the exchange of ideas they have taken the task to another level.

Different individuals working together into smaller groups will be continuing with the work, so that it will be polished-up more. He will be working with COSATA on coming up with something on the copyrights section for the IP policy.

For Kitime this is a very big step, for it was in effect the second phase of a failed initiative TAMUNET had started back in 2011. Then in 2013 they teamed-up with the TAFF, with funds provided by the NGO “Best AC” to produce a copyright policy.

It was this initiative that was presented last week for modification. “When this is over it will go back to the ministry to begin a procedure that it is hoped will reach the cabinet and hopefully passed into law. This will create a new environment when you can look at all of the laws on IP.

Similar sentiments of joy and some level of contentment were expressed by the TAFF President, Simon Mwakifamba. His joy rests on the fact that the team, which sat for the five days last week to perfect this IP policy draft were highly skilled experts, who he says have been able to produce a highly-recommended document.

He emphasised that this policy will be very useful to the country. Now that the various experts have come together and produced this document he maintains it should not get stuck anywhere but be allowed to follow the other steps for it to be put into law.

The work, which has been done here should not go to waste. This he maintains, is because, first of all, people have “used a lot of knowhow and brains,” together with their time and a lot of money. “This shouldn’t be taken as something light and easy.

IP is life. IP is economics. The world we’re living in now is a world of intellectual property. People are living by using their brains as opposed to physical force. The time to using force has finished,” he suggested.

He then went on to lists a number of countries headed by the USA and South Korea, to show how IP has helped them build into what they are today. Others that he mentioned are Germany and Japan. That is why he feels the government should do likewise here and have an IP policy written in the constitution.

The Tanzania Federation of Crafts and Arts (TAFCA) official Adrian Nyangamalle is also optimistic the necessary steps should be followed for there to be an IP policy.

This being done, he maintains, would benefit members of his federation beyond words could express. For years, he says they have been greatly ignored, to the point whereas such places as the Nyumba ya Sanaa becoming a small shop, instead of a centre without anyone saying anything.

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