By MacPherson Mukuka – Lusaka
Copyright is a private right that gives exclusive enjoyment of creative rights to the creator/ author.
However this always has to be balanced with access as the purpose for which it is created is for others to enjoy.
The Zambia Copyright Law does take cognisance of this balance and thereby has made provision for exceptions to allow access and use which does not require the permission of the copyright holder
It is worth noting that these exceptions are limited and then it is in order to ensure that right owners do not lose control of and benefit from their works.
But because we are living in a dynamic world it is not easy for originators of the works to take control of the exploitation of their works.
Therefore, globally, collective management has proven to be a solution to the creators of different types of works in which copyright subsists.
Zambia has not been left out on this and has in place the Zambia Reprographic Rights Society (ZARRSO) which is a Collective Management organization mandated to manage the reproduction right of copyright subsisting in literary and artistic works.
ZARRSO was created to legitimise the reproduction of such works beyond the provisions of the law but within limits that do not disadvantage the rights of holders of their economic benefits.
After two years of negotiations with the Ministry of Higher Education to centrally license them for copyright reproductions carried out in all public higher learning institutions in Zambia, ZARRSO signed a licensing agreement with the Ministry.
Speaking during the signing ceremony which was held at the Ministry of Higher Education offices, Permanent Secretary Mr OWEN MGEMEZULU expressed Government’s willingness to ensure that all institutions under the Ministry were compliant to the requirements of the laws of the land.
Mr. MGEMEZULU emphasised that the Ministry has realised the importance of taking a leading role in obtaining the copyright reproduction license and were in full support of the operations of ZARRSO as they are endeavoured to protect and remunerate creators for their creativity.
Meanwhile, ZARRSO Chief Executive Officer RUTH S. MWENYA said the agreement is a huge milestone for the RRO.
She said it is gratifying that the agreement which has been under negotiations for over two years has come to pass.
Ms MWENYA said it was very exciting because the government was taking a lead in ensuring the laws of the land meant to promote and protect literary and artistic works in are respected and enforced.
She further said ZARRSO is very positive that the agreement was going to be effectively implemented and rights holders are going to be incentivised through royalty distribution as that is the primary objective of licensing for reprography.
Ms. MWENYA has further hailed the Ministry of Higher Education for its commitment and ensuring that the negotiations reached a positive conclusion.