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African orgs join up to catch, curb pirates

Content producers pressure governments to increase efforts

Johannesburg– Frustrated by piracy and the lax efforts to combat it, a group of African broadcasters and content producers are joining forces to curb its effects on developing markets.

Africa Media Rights Watch will be a collaborative effort between regional governments and some of the continent’s biggest content distributors, including South African pay TV provider M-Net, Francophone distributors Canal Plus Horizons and Cote Ouest, Next Generation Broadcasting, and the organizers of the Discop Africa content market.

It will officially launch at the Discop Africa conference in Ghana in February.

“The African market is becoming more and more important for distributors,” says Cherise Barsell, AMRW’s project manager. “There are a lot more channels popping up, and a lot more productions, so there’s a lot more at stake.”

Barsell says the growing demands of producers to protect their content has put the pressure on governments to step up their efforts to fight piracy.

“There’s not a huge appreciation for the importance of antipiracy laws (in African nations),” Barsell says. “They don’t have very strict laws, and they don’t enforce those laws.”

The body will focus on monitoring services in 10 key markets, including South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, and will issue reports to rights owners on when their content is being aired illegally.

Organizers hope that the joint funding for monitoring services — prohibitively expensive for most African nations — will create more of an impetus for those nations to pursue pirates, once they’re found.

The group will also work with regulators and lawyers in member countries to build a better understanding of copyright law.

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