The greatest challenge of the copyright-based industries and for that matter the Copyright Office is the issue of piracy! Piracy is a world-wide canker that affects the creative industries in every country.
In simple terms, piracy constitutes any illegal reproduction of protected copyright works. Stated differently, piracy involves intentionally making copies of an original work and distributing those pirated copies commercially, without authorization from the original creator of the work. In this sense, basic activities such as peer-to-peer file sharing of digital content involving copyright protected work such as music, video, software, eBooks and tutorials, etc. all constitute piracy, if they are done without prior authorization of their respective creators.
In the strict sense of the word, people who share files (especially music & video) on their phones with other people by way of Bluetooth, Infrared, or any other wired or wireless means, are guilty of piracy! Don’t be surprised. However, we most often consider these acts as for personal private use and thus for no commercial gains and as such we do not make them strictly punishable under the Act – the Act actually makes provisions for permitted uses! (section 19)
In particular, ‘burning’ of CDs/DVDs of music and video, converting and transferring of music and videos onto portable devices such as iPods, MP3/MP4 players, mobile phones, etc. popularly known in Ghana as ‘Downloading‘, all of which are done for commercial gains at the detriment of the original creators of these works are very serious cases of piracy. These acts indeed attract very serious legal sanctions under the Copyright Act (2005), Act 690.
Sections 5 and 6 of the Copyright Act (2005) Act 690, spells out what we call Economic Rights and Moral Rights of authors:
5. The author of any protected copyright work has the exclusive economic right in respect of the work to do or authorize the doing of any of the following:
(a) the reproduction of the work in any manner or form,
(b) the translation, adaptation, arrangement or any other transformation of the work,
(c) the public performance, broadcasting and communication of the work to the public,
(d) the distribution to the public of originals or copies of the work by way of first sales or other first transfer of ownership, and
(e) the commercial rental to the public of originals or copies of the work.
6. In addition to the economic rights referred to in section 5, the author of protected copyright work has the sole moral right
(a) to claim authorship of the work and in particular to demand that the name or pseudonym of the author be mentioned when any of the acts referred to in section 5 are done in relation to the work, and
(b) to object to and seek relief in connection with any distortion, mutilation or other modification of the work where that act would be or is prejudicial to the reputation of the author or where the work is discredited by the act.
Act 690 further states in section 41 and 42 as follows:
41. Subject to this Act, the doing of an act contrary to
(a) the rights of an author under sections 5 and 6,
(b) the rights of a performer under sections 28, 30 and 31
(c) the rights of broadcasting organizations under sections 33 and 34 constitutes an infringement of copyright or related right, as the case may be, and the right owner may seek relief in a civil action under section 47.
42. A person who
(a) reproduces, duplicates, extracts, imitates or imports into the country, except for that person’s private use, any work,
(b) causes to be reproduced, duplicated, extracted, imitated, or imported into the country except for the person’s private use, any work,
(c) distributes or permits or causes to be distributed in the country by way of sale or otherwise any work,
(d) exhibits or permits or causes to be exhibited in public any work,
(e) removes or alters any electronic rights management information,
distributes, imports for distribution, broadcasts, communicates or makes available to the public, works, performances, copies of fixed performances or sound recordings knowing that electronic right management information has been removed or altered without authority, or
(g) manufactures, imports, distributes, exports, sells, rents, possesses for commercial purposes, offers to the public, advertises, communicates or otherwise provides any device, product or component that is designed or adapted to remove, alter or add electronic rights management information, or
(h) circumvents any technological protection measure applied by the right holder to the protected work, or
(i) manufactures, imports, distributes, exports, sells, rents, possesses for commercial purposes, offers to the public, advertises, communicates or otherwise provides without authority devices, components, services or other means, designed, adapted, or promoted to circumvent such a measure, or
(j) rents or lends to the public any work
where the person performing the act knew or had reasonable grounds to know that the action induces, enables, facilitates, or conceals an infringement of any copyright or related right protected under this Act without the licence or authorization of the person whose rights are protected under this Act or the agent of that person whose rights are protected, infringes the protected rights and commits an offence punishable under section 43 of this Act.