Liberia: Government of Liberia Losing Millions to Intellectual Property Theft, New Reports Unveils

Monrovia — The Copyright Society of Liberia (COSOL) says the government of Liberia is losing millions of dollars annually as a result of widespread abuse of the country's 2016 Intellectual Property law broadly.

The amount, which is US$4 million has been estimated by COSOL) after the release of an Inspection Report which among other things, finds that pirates are engaging in Intellectual Property (IP) theft without any fear of prosecution.

The report noted that the flagrant violation of the rules and policies governing the trade of copyright materials means the government cannot generate much-needed tax revenue from IP to fund the development of the creative industries.

"It also means that the country is losing its ability to attract foreign direct investment to harness opportunities in the creative industries as pirates become kingmakers," explained Prince E. Decker, Executive Director of COSOL.

Currently, a single pirated disc with multiple copyright-protected contents is L$100 (US$0.58) - and for every legitimate copy sold, at most nine, are pirated.

COSOL is the only Collective Management Organization (CMO) in Liberia that is responsible for economic rights derived from creativity. (The report can be found at https://cosolinfo.com/annual-report/ .

The Inspection Report also blamed the high rate of piracy for the limited growths in the film and music industries, as well as denying the industries international co-production, and distribution opportunities in foreign markets where a 'chain of title' (the bundle of documents that prove ownership of the rights in a film) is a prerequisite.

"Time is running out; therefore, the government needs to act before it is too late, Mr. Decker added. "We are losing too much to pirates, including lots of money, and if nothing is done, the problem will get far worse. "

It further states that majorities of the pirates, most of whom are Nigerians, have created a parallel system of identification and tracking instead of the government's own. The parallel system, according to the report, has resulted in lost revenue and limited sale of the government's own holograms security device, which protect and distinguish original creative works from duplicate.

"Instead, the pirates have developed their logos or sign engraved or pasted onto the blank tapes to distinguish the various works. The vast majority of the pirated audio-visual content is from Nigerians; however, this is not strange since most of the pirates are Nigerians," Mr. Decker added.

Meanwhile, COSOL has named the Nigerian owners of Standard Park Business Center, and OBI Business Center, as key figures that control more than Sixty percent of the illegal trade in-copyright materials across the country. The other two are AVIS Business Center, Dream Electronics, and Sonita Enterprise.

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