Police swoop on copyright pirates

The Copyright Office and the Nima Divisional Police Command have arrested two dealers in pirated copyright works and seized items valued at over two billion cedis.

Thousands of pirated works made up of CDs, DVDs and VCDs of foreign music and movies and works of some local artistes and producers were seized in the dawn swoop from a warehouse at Sukura, a suburb in Accra. A statement issued by the Copyright Office said the Nima District Police Commander and the Crime Officer led the joint exercise, which lasted four hours. Some of the local works confiscated were various album titles (both

video and audio) and special compilations of artistes such as K. K. Fosu, Kojo Antwi, Esther Smith, Daddy Lumba, Ofori Amponsah, Barosky, Obour, Kwaku Gyasi, Ama Boahema Mama Esther, Castro, the late Bishop Michael Osei Bonsu and Maame Pokua. Others are local film producers such Danfo B.A Production, A.A. Production, Miracle Films, Venus Films, Movie Africa, Harry Laud Production and O.J Productions.

The statement said the inlays of most of the local works found were scanned together with the adhesive labels. "The outlook of the works therefore to a layman on the street appeared to be genuine works." The Nima Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Mr Awuni Angwubutoge, expressed disappointment at the increasing rate at which copyright works were being reproduced and sold at reduced prices at the expense of owners.

"Pirating deprives many composers, performers and their producers the right to enjoy the fruit of their labour", he said. He said two Nigeriens - Muntari Issaka and Iddrissa - who were arrested during the swoop would be arraigned as soon as investigations were completed. "I am informed these pirated works are imported from the neighbouring countries. I therefore call on the law enforcement agencies at the borders and the police patrol teams at various checkpoints to look out for such pirated works being imported into the country," the Divisional Police chief said. C/Superintendent Angwubutoge advised the public to examine the type of audio and audiovisual works they buy to ensure that they are genuine. He called on the public to report such people to the law enforcement agencies for appropriate actions to be taken.

Mr Alfred Kumi-Atiemo, an Assistant Director in-charge of Public Relations at the Copyright Office, bemoaned the influx of pirated works and improper importation of copyright works into the country. Mr Socrate Sarfo of Movie Africa, a film producer, expressed surprise at the large quantities of copyright materials seized. "These guys are killing us; the cost of film production is over 500 million cedis. It is difficult for any film producer to break even today as result of piracy," he said.