Artists losing fight against the pirates

Zimbabwean artists, having suffered for a long time from piracy of their work, seem to have lost the war against intellectual property theft with the rapid rise of digital copying of their works.


The Zimbabwean interviewed artists to get their reaction to the recent judgements handed out to two people caught in possession of pirated copies of the comedy Sabhuku Vharazipi. The two were caught by David Mubaiwa, who plays the title role in the comedy, and handed over to the police.

They were each sentenced to six months in prison with an option of a $300 fine.

Sungura musician Romeo Gasa said piracy was providing recording companies with an excuse not to pay royalties.

“Pirated music in the streets is just the tip of the iceberg. We are suffering from piracy from our own recording companies. They hide behind piracy saying music is not selling. One can get royalties of only $20,” Gasa said.

He insisted that the recording companies were short-changing artists.

“I once saw a friend who sells his own music counting up to $11,000 in sales. The recording companies are using our money to sustain their companies,” he said.

Gasa said he had no idea how the problem could be solved. The streets of many urban centres are awash with vendors openly selling pirate CDs and DVDs.

“Piracy is now a virus. It is going to be difficult to eradicate,” he said.

Musician Jah Prayazah said musicians had no choice but to let the law take its course.

Gospel musician Pastor Charles Charamba acknowledged the problems but said the sentences were an encouraging sign.

“About two months ago, the judicial authorities had a workshop roundtable with stakeholders in the music industry. I think we are going in the right direction,” he said.

The director of Ziya Cultural Arts Trust, David Dzatsunga, said, however, that sentences needed to be more severe.

“What is needed is political will. There has to be stringent legislation and deterrent sentences. Piracy must be treated like any other serious crime,” Dzatsunga said.

Post published in: Entertainment
  1. Francesco Sinibaldi

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