Their mission was to review recommendations that had been made towards modifying the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act No.7/1999. The one-day workshop, which was organised by the RULU Arts Promoters (RAP), an NGO based in the Ilala section of the region.
It is since 2006 that this organisation has been taking various actions towards improve the returns local musicians get from their music. Over this period, it is with funds RAP received from BESTAC (Business Environment Strengthening for Tanzania - Advocacy Component), which is based in the Masaki peninsular that they have conducted a number of research, followed by collective workshops with stakeholders, to achieve their goals.
Wednesday's workshop, which was held at the Copyright Society of Tanzania's (COSOTA) premises in the City Centre, is their latest action towards reaching their goal. This should explain why present at this sitting were representatives from the National Arts Council (BASATA), the Attorney General's Chambers and the Kinondoni, Ilala and Temeke municipality councils.
Included in the list of participants was a representative from the Ministry of National Resources and Tourism, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Tanzania Communications and Regulatory Authority (TCCRA). Not forgetting to mention veteran musician and Chairman of the Tanzania Musicians Network, John Kitime, who was recently named as one of the National Arts Council (BASATA) board members.
The fact that all invitees attended the one-day workshop was one reason why the RAP Administrative and Training Director, Angelo Luhala, saw the gathering as a success. In a short conversation with the 'Daily News' after the sitting, he expressed much words of praise for the participants contribution, which he referred to as being "rich enough to send the bill to parliament".
He added that this is their main target for having such meeting in the first place. "Also, the presenters: Dr Jehovaness Aikaeli from the University of Dar es Salaam and the Legal Officer at COSOTA, Maureen Fondo, did well.
Fourth, most of the participants were satisfied with the meeting, in the sense of the hospitality they received and the way they were given a chance to speak and express their views," Luhala said.
Now, he feels a lot more confident that the COSOTA, who is holding the proposed draft to be submitted to parliament, has enough striking ideas which can be put together and send to the cabinet ready for the August House.
Luhala also said that as the direct result of this meeting he is more assured that now local musicians stand a better chance of getting better returns from their labours, when the proposed draft becomes law. His joy was also shared by the representative of BEST-AC's Programme Officer, Asha Mbogoro.
As mentioned above it is since 2006 that BEST-AC, a project within the Prime Minister's Office, has been providing financial support to RAP for the sole purpose of conducting research and workshops towards modifying the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act No.7/1999.
Mbogoro told the 'Daily News' that the government-driven programme is determined to do all it can so that local artistes receive better returns from their art. "This is very much in line with BEST-AC's mandate to help support private advocacy so that they build their capacity, by providing them with grants and technical support so that they are able to do research on issues that affect their sectors," Mbogoro explained.
She further explained the importance for any group to be able to identify any problems they have because once they have done this and put them through a validation process, which uses the participation of stakeholders, who provide factual, relevant inputs, they stand a chance of improving their position. It is only after this initial process that they can produce a paper, which explains their position.
During the workshop Mbogoro had pointed out to the participants how important it is they remember that it is the Artistes themselves, as the owners of the art, who have to control copyright issues. The role of the government in such issues, she maintains should be as facilitators.
COSOTA's Legal Officer Maureen Fondo explained this issue in a conversation with the 'Daily News' before leaving the premises. Fondo, started by expressing her satisfaction concerning the strides they were able to make with this workshop, which according to her "turned out to be very beneficial because it showed that people are becoming aware" that there need to change and accommodate new things in the act, for the right holders to get a better deal.
For her, all of this is tangible evidence that the action taken by conducting researches and bringing the findings to the rights holders is moving in the right direction, towards having a more suitable bill.
She also explained that COSOTA, which must be remembered came into being under the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act No.7/1999, have two functions. One is as a copyright office and the other as a collective management organisation. In terms of the former they are expected to "protect and preserve the rights of right holders" together with conduct anti-piracy raids and campaigns.
As a collective manager they are supposed to be collecting and distributing royalties to the right holders. These are artistes themselves for which COSOTA acts as an agency. It is in this sense that the issues involved with rights directly concerns the private sector, where all the right holders belong.
One of the recommendations to the law, which came out loud and clearly on Wednesday, is the necessity to divide the two offices so that COSOTA handles the copyright office on behalf of the government and the rights holders collect and distribute royalties. Then it will be the duty of the copyrights office to oversee the process as a regulatory authority. "This will only be possible if the right holders themselves are united.
In the case of musicians it would require all musicians to come under one association and the same applies for film, visual arts and the performing arts sectors, within the creative industry," Fondo explained.