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Old 17-10-2007, 09:14 PM
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Promoting and protecting our cultural industry

There is a trade imbalance in the cultural and creative industries between developed and developing countries; with the latter group importing huge volumes of cultural/creative goods and exporting very little.

by JACOB SIMET

PORT MORESBY: The Papua New Guinea Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act was enacted by Parliament in July 2000.
Recently a known Papua New Guinean musician complained about the unauthorized use of his music by a band in Australia. This is the most recent of what is now becoming a common-place occurrence in this country.
A few weeks ago the radio stations expressed the strong view that they did not support the efforts of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to institute regulations under the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act, which would mean they would have to pay royalties for the music they play on their stations.
They argued that if the regulations were to be implemented, they would not be able to afford the royalties on the music they play, most of which was from overseas. At the same time they specifically said that they did not want to play local (PNG) music all day. Incidentally; the National Cultural Commission (NCC) was part of the development of the regulations.
Last week the editorial in the National lamented the plight of artist and the arts generally. It also made commentary on the woes of the National Museum and drew attention to the need for more support to culture and the arts. The editorial commentary also made reference in part to the efforts being made by National Cultural Commission (NCC) in the development and promotion of culture and creative industry. Incidentally, the National Cultural Commission is staging its 3rd Annual National Arts and Crafts Exhibition in Lae, from 27th to 28th October 2007.
Seven years after the enactment of the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act 2000, copyright violations are still very much common-place. And due to the refusal of "users of copyright" such as the radio stations to abide by the law; we continue to import large volumes of music and other copyrighted material and use for free. In this way we deny the overseas artists their economic and in some cases moral rights. In the same breath we are denying our local artists the same rights.
Recently two persons from the cultural sector in Queensland came to Port Moresby, as part of the Trade Mission team that visited here. One was from the Queensland Library Services and the other was from the Queensland Museum. Admittedly, this was the first time representatives from the cultural sector were included in these Trade Talk delegations. A meeting was convened between these two persons and representatives from the PNG cultural sector, such as the Creative Arts discipline at UPNG, the National Library, the National Museum, the National Cultural Commission and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Not being very clear about the basis of these two persons inclusion in the Trade Talks mission, in my opening remarks, I jokingly asked whether we were here to talk "cultural trade or co-operation?"
The visitors looked startled and puzzled for a few seconds before one of them responded, saying; "I suppose we could do a bit of both". To which I responded that I preferred to talk trade as the trade imbalance between Australia and PNG in the cultural/creative industries was of the same magnitude as it was in other areas. I was at this point not joking any longer as I was now thinking of the global reality of trade imbalance in the cultural and creative industries between the developed and developing countries; with the latter group importing huge volumes of cultural/creative goods and exporting very little.
According to a recent UNESCO report; "In economic terms the creative/cultural industries sector is one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy. In the years 1974 to 2000 the sector grew in exports from $US 39 billion to $US 59 billion. Best estimates value the sector at 7 percent of the world's gross domestic product and forecasts are put at 10 percent growth".
However, much of the growth being experienced in the world is happening in developed countries. "In most developed market economies the cultural and copyright industries account for 2 - 5% of GDP and have generated consistent and stable growth above world average in the last decade, as exemplified in a rising share of employment and exports. Global estimates forecast that the creative industries will grow by 33 percent in the next four years".
Apart from a few large developing countries such as China, India and Mexico, developing and least developed countries do not seem to experience this growth and expansion and if they do, it is very minimal compared to that of the developed world. Very little of the films, books, video-games, music and other cultural/creative items available in the world today are produced in the developing and least developed countries. Perhaps one or two countries such as India are able to make a mark against Hollywood film production. In the same way, some Caribbean countries can boast to have made some impact on music production on the global arena with their musical greats such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Harry Belafonte, and Shaggy. However these are very minor impacts when seen globally and even for these individual Caribbean states themselves, when imports are weighed against exports.
According to a study done in the Caribbean group of countries, it is difficult for developing and least developed countries to break into the cultural/creative industries markets, which are saturated by products from developed countries. The report says there are fundamental problems in the development and management of cultural and creative industries in the region and which is the same for most developing countries. Of course on the top of the list is the lack of government recognition of the economic value and potential of the cultural/creative industries sector and provision of appropriate support. In addition the report identifies the lack of adequate "intellectual property protection and commercialization" as major problems for developing countries. It says; "The creative industries cannot survive in the marketplace without adequate protection from copyright infringement. Without such protection cultural entrepreneurs would be at the mercy of piracy, bootlegging, counterfeiting and other forms infringement such as unlicensed broadcasting". A number of issues are identified in the report as challenges that are associated with small and peripheral economies. Interestingly, amongst these is the recognition that; "There also tends to be an historical, institutional and commercial bias against indigenous content in the home market that marginalizes and limits local entrepreneurship, investment and market development". Considering the position taken by the radio industry in PNG, referred to above, we could almost say this study was conducted in this country!
So while we in the developing and least developed countries procrastinate about the implementation of laws to benefit our right-holders; the right-holders in developed countries continue to benefit from their steady growing exports to us.

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