Act against piracy

HARARE - Music piracy poses the biggest threat to Zimbabwe’s entertainment industry which has been in a comatose state for a long time.

The failure by the responsible authorities to do anything meaningful to contain the problem that has led to the near-collapse of the music industry is the major reason why we are behind the call by chimurenga music legend, Thomas Mapfumo for government to rise up to the challenge.

In his independence message, like he has consistently done at other fora, Mapfumo bemoans how piracy has been allowed to undermine the capacity of musicians to live off their creativity as is the norm in other countries.

The veteran musician aptly captures the severity of the problem: “We are being robbed of our sweat and blood, and it is my wish that we have tight mechanisms to deal with this scourge. We encourage our fans to support us by buying original copies of our music.”

Last week, we carried a story in which rising gospel musician Takesure Zamar Ncube explained why his band has now decided to record only singles and not albums.

He rightly observes that the huge expenses musicians invest into recording no longer make economic sense against the backdrop of piracy that is being allowed to flourish by the State.

While piracy is also a problem in other countries, it is the total absence of any substantive mechanisms in Zimbabwe to contain the menace that has left musicians and the rest of the creative industry frustrated.

At almost every corner in Harare and other big cities, CDs are sold as if the whole exercise is legal and above board.

So rampant is the problem that vendors of pirated discs can even sell their bootleg right at the entrance of Harare Central Police Station without any intervention from the police.

Therein lies the problem.

Why should our police fold their hands on the issue and virtually behave as if the violation of intellectual property is a minor indiscretion that does not merit any intervention?

Our Parliament and government are even more blameworthy.

Why do they continue to turn a blind eye on the incessant pleas from the entertainment industry for decisive action to be taken against the unrepentant pirates?

And crucially, why does our government fail to realise that music piracy eats into possible taxable income that our cash-strapped Treasury can benefit from?

The responsible authorities can longer afford to behave as if it business as usual; they have to act now.

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