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How state actors protect pirated contents over indigenous

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-The sorrowful tale of the Liberian Movie Union

Despite efforts to secure protection from their own authority, their story is nowhere near better. The Liberian Movie Industry continues to suffer at the hands of pirates that visibly flood the local market with pirated foreign contents in fore glare of authority.

Authorities at the Liberia Intellectual property office, in 2019 entered an MOU with local movies producer to help curb piracy, but to date the local authorities have reneged on that decision allowing the pirates to flourish in the sales of pirated films.

In a letter written to the Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO), the Liberian Movie producers struggle to understand why officials at the office would not stick to their own mandate.

See below the full text of the Liberian Movie Union’s letter to LIPO:

Atty. P. Adelyn Cooper
Director General
Liberia Intellectual Property Office (LIPO)
Monrovia, Liberia
We bring you greetings from the Liberia Movie Union (LIMU). In 2019, the Liberia Movie Union began working with you to ensure that piracy in Liberia is curtailed. Sadly, in 2021, pirates have increased the sale of pirated film. Regrettably, you and your deputies have started processes and later refused to implement them. Recently, after surveying the shops of these pirates, as agreed, you were to commence the implementation of your mandates.

Again, you have refused to take the next step, and instead have given the pirates the green light to increase the stocks on the market.

Also, instead of doing your work, you are repeatedly announcing that we do not have good films to release. This is sad and only seen as a ploy with the pirates. Let it be known that we are fully aware that the pirates are supporting some people to produce poorly rated movies. These works they continue to spread on the market, thus leaving many to believe that there are no good films.

Atty. Cooper, you and your deputies, along with authorities of the Ministry of Information, signed an agreement to weed out illegal films from the Liberian market, and also to ensure that marketers, who in essence are actually pirates, are mandated to get power of attorney from producers of films they intend to sell, and to ONLY deal in a single movie to a DVD.

Sadly, not understanding what prompted this, days after the signing of the memorandum, another letter emanating from your office conceded to the pirates’ demands, consequently downplaying our efforts to take up the challenge to improve our filmic efforts when you put in for an EXTENTION of three additional months before having them cleared off the Liberian market. In good faith, and having had a delegation from the Nigerian Embassy, the arrangement was received with misgiving by us. Since then, your office has repeatedly asked or compelled the past and current LIMU leadership to secede to your extension schemes.

Madam Director, sadly as it stands right now nearly two years after the expiry of multiple extension suggested by LIPO, which you head, the pirates are STILL dealing in pirated films with noticeable increase.
Another vexing effect the continuous blind eye played by LIPO is having on young Liberian filmmakers, is that we continue to lag behind on the back burner of destitution, rendering most of us unable to win bread for our respective families and advance our academic sojourn, making us the laughing stock of our respective families and colleagues. At the moment, two of our colleagues are dangerously sick and can’t afford to seek treatment abroad due to our inability to raise money from our talent to help them. They may die!

Also, please be informed that at no time was a memorandum signed with the Marketers’ Association for the purchase of Liberian movies only from the Liberia Movie Union’s office.

Again, the Artus-led administration has refuted that there was ever an agreement signed for the sale of Liberian films by the pirated marketers. We do not have an MOU with the marketers and do not seek to have one with them. We believe that such scheme is meant to derail the current process that will see, amongst many things, the sale of sixty percent Liberian films by marketers, one movie to a DVD and the procurement of producers’ agreement by marketers for the sale of all film contents on the Liberian market.

Madam Director, while you and your staff still enjoy some level of confidence at the level of the Liberia Movie Union and other artistic organizations, we are reminding you to do due diligence to the agreement you signed. If you have forgotten, let us quickly outline efforts we’ve put into helping you crack down on piracy:

• MOU with MICAT and LIPO (June 2019), and several meetings with the pirate marketers between June and October aimed at clamping down on their breaking of
Liberian laws.
• Anti-piracy parade. October 27, 2019.
• Notification to marketers to clear the market of pirated goods (October – December,
2019)

• Constructive consultations with the Ministry of Commerce (January to February, 2020) and the receiving of “Search and Seizure warrant” from the court through the Ministry of Commerce.
LIPO was created to ensure that the rights and privileges of Liberian artists are protected, and anything short of discharging these duties is a sacrilege. We wholeheartedly and in good faith look forward to positive changes in these regards in two months, beginning June 1 to July 31, 2021.

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