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Fighting an illegal industry

June 07
12:00 2008

Written By : NANDIKA CHAND . Copyright, especially copyright of digital materials is a complicated issue.
There are the rights of the owners of materials such as movies, music, photographs and software, to control and charge for each and every single copy of their product.
And there are people who demand for free and unrestricted access to their music, movies, e-books, and so on.
Piracy is an on-going and continuing problem in Fiji.
It is on the streets, in shopping malls and many piracy operators work 24 hours a day.
According to the Fiji Performing Rights Association Limited, sales of pirated music and movies have grown in Fiji.
FPRA chairman Eremasi Tamanisau Junior said the owners of these illegal operations have an arrogant and contemptuous attitude towards Fiji’s copyright laws.
Mr Tamanisau said the protective legislation was of no use because no action has been taken against offenders.
He said the Fiji Copyright Act (1999) is a piece of legislation with no teeth because offenders have no regard for it.
“Some businesses in Suva proudly state that they can reproduce multiple copies of originals that are given to them,” Mr Tamanisau said.
“The Fiji Police Force is virtually useless at ensuring that the copyright laws of the state are respected and enforced,” he said.
It had been earlier reported that the Fiji Audio Visual Industry Association (FAVIA) supported the military’s clean-up campaign by tracking down illegal suppliers of Digital Video Disc’s (DVDs).
The facts are that;
* The Fiji Government has lost about $40 million in Customs Duty and VAT in 2005 because of piracy, yet no action has been taken by FIRCA against the pirate stores despite complaints by FAVIA
* According to FIRCA in 2005 over 3.3m movie recording storage devices of various formats were imported into Fiji
* Fiji’s piracy rate is about 98 percent making Fiji’s piracy rate one of the highest in the world
* Major studios such as Sony Pictures who shot parts of the movie “Anaconda” in Fiji are very disturbed with Fiji’s lip service against piracy and do not wish to invest in Fiji thus potential investments worth several millions of dollars are being lost because of piracy
* Pornographic and violent films are being sold unlabelled to people of all ages including young children
* Customers lose out on original value products and are being robbed of your consumer rights
* Fiji rapidly loses local singers, artists and producers to overseas countries because of piracy
* Research shows that major pirates internationally have links to terrorist activities
* Fiji subsequently loses out on favourable trade agreements due to piracy
Selling black market DVDs is illegal under Fiji’s copyright law.
A person can form his or her own opinion about whether it is ethical.
FAVIA’s statistics indicate that the most people in Fiji purchase pirate copies instead of the genuine products.
Fiji’s legislation does not address concerns such as downloading music from the internet.
Fiji will be increasingly pressured by foreign interests to take a clear stand on piracy and this could require an overhaul of the Copyright Act.
How Fiji chooses to address copyright issues will lay the foundation for the future of digital culture in Fiji.
A DVD retailer had earlier said that unless the copyright law was amended, businesses would be forced to close.
Director of Fiji’s Video Ezy franchise, Uday Singh was forced to shut some retail stores because of piracy.
Mr Singh said there was a loophole in regard to the enforcement of the law.
He said sales had dropped by up to 90 percent in the past year.
Local artist, Daniel Rae Costello local artists were affected because of increasing piracy in Fiji.
The business of these operators selling pirate DVDs and music CDs is thriving because the demand is there.
Customers prefer to buy pirate DVDs because they are cheaper and they get to see the latest movies within one week of its release in cinemas and theatres.
To stop this illegal operation, people have to buy and rent originals but it a known fact that customers or consumers prefer to shop for the cheaper things.

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