Poor Enforcement of Copyright Law Blamed for Poor Copyright Protection in Macedonia

Jul 21 2010 - 13:18

Songwriters are dissatisfied with the level of copyright protection in Macedonia, criticizing the Macedonian Association for Protection of Music Copyrights (ZAMP) for the small annual royalties that it pays them. The four-part analysis on the compliance with the Copyright Law in Macedonia, published by Macedonian daily Dnevnik from July 6 to July 9, 2010 stresses poor enforcement of the Law as one of the main reasons for its non-observance.

Mirjana Todorovska, senior IP & Tech Law researcher at the University American College Skopje, notes that the widespread music piracy and the Macedonian musicians’ constant calls for change of the royalty payment system are the main indicators that copyrights are not sufficiently protected in the country.

Her survey conducted on 33 respondents-songwriters showed that around 61.3 percent of the songwriters in Macedonia believe that copyrights are not fully protected and that the system needs to be reformed. A total of 90 percent of the respondents assessed that the Copyright and Related Rights Department within the Macedonian Ministry of Culture is “inefficient and slow in decision making”, while approximately 75 percent said the same thing for the State Market Inspectorate. All respondents (100 percent) replied that they don’t see the judges as “neutral” and “swift in decision making”.

The analysis also compares the total royalties paid to songwriters in Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia in 2008. Croatia paid approximately EUR 8.6 million (USD 11.1 million) in royalties to its songwriters that year, Slovenia paid a total of EUR 6.3 million (USD 8.1 million), while the Macedonian songwriters received a total of EUR 280,821 (USD 362,266) in royalties from ZAMP.

ZAMP representatives argue that Macedonia should not be compared with other countries, as it is a small country and therefore a small music market. But they agree that there is a problem, noting that both songwriters and ZAMP are not satisfied with the records of played songs kept by the broadcasting companies.

According to the Copyright and Related Rights Law, the electronic media are obliged to submit to ZAMP the lists of songs played by them on air. However, as the whole system is based on trust and since there is no way to check whether a certain song was played once or 10 times during the day, many broadcasting companies pay small amounts for copyright fees and there are those that do not pay anything at all.

Dnevnik notes that ZAMP is suing four national TV broadcasters and one national radio station for EUR 1.2 million (USD 1.6 million) because they have not paid copyright fees for two years. The Macedonian Radio Television is among the national broadcasting companies sued.

Experts say that the problem with the lawsuits is that judges are not well versed in the Copyright Law. Experts hope that departments specialized in resolving copyrights-related disputes will be formed in the courts.

ZAMP authorities also said for Dnevnik that they are working on acquiring software that will register how many times the electronic media play certain songs. They stressed that they received support for this initiative from Minister of Culture Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska, who promised financial support.

For more information, please contact Aleksandra Noveska at our Macedonia office.

Source: Dnevnik.com.mk

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