Collectively, the creative arts ecosystem generates rich social, cultural and economic benefits that supports the livelihood of the creators, enablers and investors.
Maximizing benefits is very key in sustaining the creative arts industry. The Robert Smith Law Group, in partnership with Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts and the Attorney General’s Office last year December organized the Second Law for Society Public Seminar Series, with focus on intellectual property rights in Ghana’s creative arts ecosystem.
It was quiet a packed day and the deliberations which were anchor of the broader theme: How to Monetize Benefits for Creative Artistes - focused on finding solutions to the teething challenges confronting creative arts.
Chaired by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Arts, Hon. Mark Okraku Mantey, the programme witnessed high-level industry players including talents, enablers and investors attending. The Hon. Deputy Attorney General, Ms. Diana Assonaba Dapaah was the Guest Speaker.
The Series had two panel discussions, The first panel discussed the experiences of notable industry personnel on IP right benefits while the second focused on the legal regime of the Copyright Protection in Ghana and solutions to issues associated with the current IP monetization initiates.
Among the key panelists were Boomplay General Manager Elizabeth Ntiamoah, Lynx Entertainment CEO Richie Mensah and venerable artiste Okyeame Kwame. The discussions focused on experiences with Intellectual Property (IP) earnings, the Copyright Protection regime in Ghana and solutions to the issues associated with current IP monetization initiatives.
In his welcoming address, Bobby Banson, Lead Counsel at the Robert Smith Law Group reiterated the focus of the discussion as one aimed at proffering solutions to issues associated with royalty collection in the creative art industry.
Maximizing IP Rights in a Digital Era
She further noted that notwithstanding budgetary constraints, the government is still committed to fulfilling all his promises to Ghanaians.
The Deputy Attorney General stated that issues with royalty collection emanate from two main causes - Lack of transparency in the collection and distribution system and a failure to adapt to modern technology.
She assured that Government, in accordance with the Copyright Act 2005 (Act 650) and the Copyright Regulations, 2021 (LI 1962) was in the process of studying the current regime of royalty collection and payment and would soon commence stakeholder engagement to ensure a licensing regime that accords with the rights conferred under the laws.
Finally, she urged for effective stakeholder engagement, promising that government would welcome the policy suggestions that would made at the forum.
Okyeame Kwame spoke on some of the benefits he has derived from the use of his IP. He revealed that music gave him the ability to build a brand and a hope, adding that it became his profession as well as a means of expression. However, his works are yet to commensurate with his financial gain.
He noted that in the past 24 years, he had not made any economic gains from royalties on his creative work, his income streams have been from performances and streaming.
Richie Mensah who has wealth of experience in his diverse roles in different levels of the music industry, stated that throughout his progression from performer, to producer, and finally record label manager his efforts have not translated into money despite the massive impact on the industry.
He was yet to make a single penny from his first advert which he made in the early 2000s. Talent, he lamented, is usually bullied. He noted that there is a huge untapped money stream in entertainment that artistes are not capitalizing on even though digital sales are soaring in some countries that is not the case in Ghana.
Boomplay Manager Elizabeth Ntiamoah whose company operates in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya noted that Ghanaian artistes are not as insistent on their rights as other jurisdictions. This is because, compared to Kenya and Nigeria, Ghanaian artistes have little copyright literacy.
Elizabeth Ntiamoah, however, noted that there is an increasing awareness and Ghanaian artistes are starting to understand their IP rights and building the voice to demand it.
She noted that the problem also stems from a lack of technological literacy. “Even classical artistes do not know how to upload songs unto Boomplay.” This, she lamented, was a sad issue.
Monetizing and Understanding IP Rights
The second panel discussed Maximizing benefits for Creative artistes. The panelists were Nana Yaw Sompa, a Private Legal Practitioner; Abraham Adjetey, GHAMRO President and Nii Ofoli Yartey, popularly known as Seven, a well-known music right advocate and thought leader.
The discussion begun with an overview of the legal regime on copyright protection in Ghana. Mr. Sompa Esq, gave an insightful brief of Copyright laws.
Mr. Abraham Adjetey of GHAMRO spoke on the impact of Section 49 of Act 690. He stated that even though the overarching regime of copyright protection had already been set up under Section 49, it is still not fully operational. He attributed this lapse to lack of governmental enforcement measures and also Artistes’ lack of interest in IP education initiatives. In very strong language he made a case of the forum, pointing out that very few stars were minded to attend the programme.
Nii Ofoli Yartey (Seven) reiterated the concerns about the poor enforcement framework for royalty collection. He however placed his blame on GHAMRO instead of the Attorney General’s Department. He insisted that the Attorney General having licensed GHAMRO to fix royalty collection rates and collect same, GHAMRO had the proper authority to enforce royalty collection. He called for proper accountability and admonished the union for not doing its best.
Finally, he reiterated the need for stakeholder engagement to map out sustainable solutions to the issues raised at the forum.
A summary of the insights and recommendations made at the forum are as follows: