Educational institutions fuelling piracy says Mari

HARARE - National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) director Elvas Mari has singled out educational institutions as the major perpetrators of book piracy.

Mari made the remarks on Tuesday at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF), which is currently running in Harare under the theme “Growing the knowledge economy through research, writing, publishing and reading.”

“Ironically, educational institutions from early childhood development institutions, primary and secondary schools (both public and private), colleges, polytechnics and universities (State and private) are the major culprits in the illegal photocopying of educational materials.

“So pervasive is the use of illegally-photocopied materials in these institutions that strenuous efforts need to be undertaken to curb piracy in the book industry,” he said.

The Nacz director, who is also an author with several titles under his name, has urged relevant authorities to treat piracy as a serious crime.

“The time is nigh for piracy to attract deterrent sentences in the country’s justice delivery system just like other crimes like murder, armed robbery and rape.

“The literary arts genre yearns for concrete safeguarding measures. The book industry as an integral component of the creative industries is continuously enduring rampant exploitation through unbridled photocopying and selling of books,” said Mari.

Last year, ZimCopy, a collecting society that administers the economic rights of creators and authors in the field of literary and artistic works in Zimbabwe, made similar allegations against educational institutions.

ZimCopy director Greenfiled Chilongo told the Daily News then that the laws against photocopying were not being properly enforced.

Mari added that piracy was affecting the country’s entire creative sector.

“The performing arts genre particularly music is arguably the most affected by piracy. Technological advancement is even exacerbating the situation.

Music recordings are being done anywhere anytime with the mushrooming of backyard recording studios being a major challenge. This is also affecting the visual arts sector particularly film.

“The informal characteristic that is threatening to engulf the entire Zimbabwean economy is a grave cause for concern. This trait is a major challenge for the creative industries.

Piracy has reached unprecedented levels that are on the verge of threatening the creativity that is the hallmark of the creative industries,” he said.

Mari is one of the key speakers at the book fair who spoke at the annual ZIBF indaba that also discussed, among other issues, the poor reading culture in the country and how to handle the migration from hard to soft copy texts.

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