The Association of Music Rights Owners, AMRO, has called on the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu, to liquidate and probe COSGA (Copyright Society of Ghana) and the Copyright Office (directly under the Ministry of Justice) immediately, in line with President Atta Mills’ avowed determination to deal decisively with corruption.
AMRO is demanding the same kind of expeditious action for the music industry as has been displayed in the cases of investigations into Ghana @ 50, the Mabey and Johnson bribery scandal, Vodafone, etc.
They described COSGA and The Copyright Office as “A tragic disaster”, and called for a comprehensive overhaul of the Copyright Sector, declaring, “The government must liquidate and probe COSGA now”.
AMRO, made up of key practitioners including like Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Kojo Antwi, Amakye Dede, Nana Tuffuor, Obuoba Adofo, Amanzeba, Dr. Paa Bobo, Carlos Sakyi, Rex Omar, Mark Okraku Mantey, Charles Amoah, Jewel Ackah, Randy Noonoo, Lucky Mensah, Slim Busterr, Thomas Frimpong, Agyaaku, Super OD, among others is calling for the implementation of Section 49 of the new Copyright Act so the private societies (AMRO inclusive) envisaged in line with Ghana’s Constitutional provision on the Right to Free Association, can operate and contribute to national development.
COSGA was created by the government under PNDC Law 110 in 1985 and governed under LI 1527 (1992). In May 2005, PNDC Law 110 was repealed and replaced by Copyright Act 690, without LI 1527 being saved.
The LI provided for the election of a Board to run the society, an annual General Assembly to receive and approve yearly audited accounts and reports on activities of the society.
Sadly, these regulations have been blatantly flouted with impunity for over a decade, even with the presence on the COSGA Board of the Copyright Administrator, government lawyer and key representative, clearly pointing to government irresponsibility over the years.
This terrible situation has created poverty and untold hardship and has caused financial loss to music rights owners.
AMRO lamented that the powers of the Board have been exercised without the democratic control provided under COSGA regulations.
And persons, without obtaining the democratic mandate required by the regulations, have been negotiating and collecting royalties in the name of the society, haphazardly distributing these monies without any democratic control, accountability or transparency, contrary to elementary principles of running an authors society and in sharp contrast to well run societies such as SAMRO of South Africa and ASCAP of the USA.
Even worse, COSGA, which should have been liquidated after the law governing it was repealed, is still operating without legal basis, with the immediate past AG describing its status as doubtful last year.
This has created an avenue for corruption and malpractices in such a way that there have been regular eruptions of allegations against those in charge of affairs.
Sadly, for over ten years, no action has been taken by the government of the day, while these same governments move with utmost speed to probe other allegations of corruption in other sectors.
AMRO find the situation totally unfair and unacceptable, and is thus calling on the Mills Administration to rectify this anomaly and thoroughly investigate COSGA and the Copyright Office for lack of accountability, non transparency and irresponsibility in the areas of the collecting society and the sales of several forms of Security Device stickers that have literally resulted in government endorsement of piracy.
AMRO, while applauding periodic calls by government for unity among the ranks of music owners, believes it can only work if preceded by accountability, for there can be no unity without first ensuring that justice is not only done, but seen to be done.
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