Algiers — More than a million pirated CDs and DVDs have been destroyed in Algeria as part of a copyright protection campaign, "Haulte au Piratage" (Stop Piracy).
Under the watchful eye of music and film celebrities, the Algerian National Office of Copyrights (ONDA) on October 15th carried out snap inspections and seized the recordings worth of 600,000 euros.
"This gesture by the ONDA is a good one, but clearly the office needs to work alongside the state to clamp down on the pirates and all those using dubious methods to make money off the backs of artists, by outlawing any such activities," said Kabylie singer Takfarinas who took part in the campaign.
Singers Mohamed Tahar Fergani, Cheikh El Ghaffour, Hamdi Benani and Mohamed Lamari, as well as Culture Minister Khalida Toumi, also participated.
"This operation is a demonstration of the government's will to guarantee full protection for artistic works, and to eradicate all kinds of attack on intellectual property," Toumi said.
She reminded the audience of two administrative orders dating back to 2003 which fully comply with international regulations on the protection of artistic works. Algeria will soon ratify the 1996 Rome and Berne Conventions that protect intellectual property rights, Toumi said.
"Algeria has regularly faced criticism over the issue of intellectual property, notably during negotiations to join the World Trade Organisation. This operation should send out a strong signal about the desire of the authorities and ONDA to fight the piracy of literary and artistic works, and is aimed at putting Algeria's commitments on combating the counterfeiting of literary and artistic works into action," the minister noted.
The operation, however, did not go down well with those selling CDs and DVDs. It is not unusual for pirated works to be offered by illegal street traders in broad daylight and with everyone's full knowledge, at prices of no more than 100 dinars.
Mohamed Malek, 25, is one of them. He runs a well-stocked stall, selling CDs and DVDs in the working-class district of Belcourt, offering films and TV series alongside music recordings.
He defends his activity, saying: "Yes, I download things from the internet and burn them onto disc. It's not entirely legal, but I don't feel I'm doing anything wrong. I do what I can to earn a living. By selling CDs and DVDs at 100 dinars, I can just manage to get by."