Copyright is a major consumer issue

23/08/2013 11:32

Copyright is an important consumer issue especially when Fiji is moving towards a knowledge-driven economy and when increased economic value for information creates tension between users (consumers) and creators.

Council’s CEO, Mrs Premila Kumar stressed this when speaking ‘copyright issues from consumer perspective’ at the 2013 Copyright workshop organised by the Fiji Performing Right Association Ltd.  

Mrs Kumar said that in a knowledge-driven economy, sometimes the availability of knowledge which is needed for creative, academic or educational purpose is subject to copyright. This hinders development of human capital needed for economic growth. For example, pricing of copyrighted educational materials is expensive; imported text books and research publications are priced beyond the reach of many ordinary consumers

Mrs Kumar said there is always conflict between “protection” and “access” that has made copyright a much more visible and important issue for consumers especially in the digital age. It is now a question of striking a fair balance between creators, copyright owners and consumers.

The Council has noted that copyright law is a very complex and individual consumers are usually not informed about or do not fully understand copyright limitations. Sometimes it is sheer ignorance which results in cconsumer’s breaking the law without even knowing it. It is therefore, important that any copyright exemptions should become consumer rights as a prerequisite for effectively enforcing consumers’ legitimate interests.

The Council’s market surveillance has found counterfeit and pirated products which were previously distributed through informal markets, appear on the shelves of established shops.

There are several reasons for the influx of pirated goods or counterfeit trade in Fiji. These are weak consumer protection laws, lack of standards, lack of enforcement, weak border controls and high prices of genuine products. Pirate DVDs are sought after by consumers because: the genuine ones are too expensive; subscriptions to rental services are high and consumers would rather buy and own a pirated DVD for $2 rather than paying a one-night rental for $3.

Council is of the opinion that copyright enforcement should be for those who profiteer from the work of others by dealing in pirated goods.  

She said that unbalanced copyright laws and practices hurt consumers – not pirates. Every effort should be made by all stakeholders to stop pirated and counterfeit goods in our marketplace.