On the 23rd of July, IFRRO’s CMO members from all across Africa met in a virtual setting. The meeting was also attended by ARIPO, CISAC, OAPI, WIPO, observer CMOs from Benin, Namibia and Zanzibar, CLA, CCC, IFRRO’s First and Second Vice Presidents, and the IFRRO Secretariat.
IFRRO’s African Committee was due to meet in Lilongwe, Malawi, this year, but the pandemic has caused the cancellation of all physical meetings. Instead, the African Committee met online and had a successful three hour discussion with more than 60 representatives in attendance.
At the opening of the meeting, Sonia Cruikshank of WIPO expressed the deep regrets and sadness of the whole copyright community on the passing of Rosario Kamanga in April this year. Rosario contributed immensely to the development of the creative industries and CMOs in Africa. He was also a kind, gifted, and spirited person. Dora Makwinja, Chair of the African Committee and First Vice President of IFRRO, acknowledged that “we will always miss Rosario, and his spirit will continue to guide us in making sure that copyright continues to grow in importance in Africa”.
International and regional partners gave an update about their respective initiatives and activities. WIPO, represented by Senior Counsellors Carole Croella and Geidy Lung and Counsellor Anita Huss, shared information about the IFRRO-WIPO reprography project in Africa, the partnership built with UEMOA around private copying, and the current agenda of WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights. ARIPO, represented by its Director General Fernando dos Santos together with his Copyright colleagues Maureen Fondo and Amadu Bah, referred to the ARIPO model law on copyright and related rights, which was published last year and is currently being revised. Solange Dao, Head of Copyright and Collective Management at OAPI, spoke about the Training on Collective Management that OAPI is planning to launch later in the year. Samuel Sangwa, Regional Director for Africa at CISAC, explained how the pandemic has severely affected CMOs across the continent. He gave a detailed overview of the measures taken by the confederation to mitigate the effects of the crisis and to work with governments on recovery plans.
The second part of the meeting was dedicated to educational licensing. Leemisa Molapisi (Operations Manager at DALRO, South Africa), Madeleine Pow-Jones (Policy and International Relations Manager at CLA, UK) and Ruth Simujayangombe (CEO of ZARRSO, Zambia) reflected on the impact of the crisis and the temporary closure of educational institutions. This sudden move from a mostly in-person teaching to full distance learning has demonstrated the relevance of collective licensing solutions: the CMOs witnessed a significant increase in licensing requests coming from universities. They reacted swiftly and offered tailor-made solutions to those educational institutions, making it possible for students and teachers to continue using and copying copyright-protected works.
Private copying remuneration compensation as a stable source of income for creators and publishers was discussed during the final session of the meeting. In Africa, an increasing number of countries are implementing or considering introducing compensation. This is true also in Europe and in other parts of the world. Burkina Faso and Ghana are among the countries that have pioneered the establishment of private copying. Chantal Forgo (Director for Legal Affairs and International Cooperation at BBDA, Burkina Faso) and Joseph Gyamfi (Senior Licensing Officer at CopyGhana) explained how they are constantly adjusting the systems to maximise the benefits to authors and publishers.
While the COVID crisis had tremendously affected CMOs’ collections in Africa and, therefore, the well-being of creators and publishers, we have also seen a blossoming of initiatives. The African Committee concluded on the shared hope that governments will continue to take action to save and support the cultural sector, one of the hardest hit by the crisis.