MASERU — Local artistes say they are losing royalties because the Copyright Act does not adequately protect their work against piracy.
The Lesotho Music Right Association (LMRA) now wants the law amended to plug loopholes that have allowed “pirated” CDs and movies to flood the market.
The price gap between an original and a counterfeit CD is staggering. For instance an original famo CD costs M60 at record bars while a counterfeit goes for only M10 on the streets.
A R10 CD can also have dozens of songs from different artistes.
A buyer can also choose songs and artistes they want to be on the counterfeit CD.
Many record bars have close shop under pressure from the counterfeit CD market which has been allowed to flourish because of the weaknesses of the Copyright law.
While original CDs gather dust in record bars counterfeit CDs are selling like hot cakes.
Although the main victims of the “bootlegging” are musicians the whole music industry — from record bars to music producers — has begun to crumble.
LMRA spokesperson, Ramosa Bosiu, said their efforts to deal with piracy were being hampered by lack of laws that protect artistes.
Bosiu said they also were concerned that local radio stations were playing their music without paying any royalties.
“We are not getting any rewards for our efforts like other artistes in other countries and this is threatening the industry,” he said.
“Public transporters and taverns were also killing the industry by playing mostly copied music.”
Bosiu called on the police to do more to curb the sale of pirated music.
He said their anti-piracy campaign in 2010 failed because some of the people that were charged for violating the Copyright Act argued that they were only pirating music from international artists.
“The courts did not see how we were losing out if the music which was being copied and sold belonged to international musicians,” he said.
“The courts told us that we were fighting for what did not belong to us because the counterfeit CDs produced belonged to South African and international artistes.
This did not help our cause.”
Last month the LMRA met representatives from the Law Office to discuss the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act. The meeting was also attended by organisations representing crafters, dancers and theatre.
The LMRA wants the new law to compel radio stations to pay royalties to artistes for playing their music.
“We want to ensure that our works are fully protected by the law and that we get what is due to us,” Bosiu said.
“Artistes in other countries survive solely on their art and we want to see that happening here.”
The LMRA will meet the Law Office later this month to discuss recommendations from artistes.
The association said they will start raids on street vendors selling counterfeit CDs and make sure they are brought to book.