Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS), a nonprofit making organisation made up of songwriters, artists, composers and publishers is worried by the low turnout at the World Intellectual Property day held in Maun. Speaking at the event themed “Get up, Stand up For Botswana Music”, Chief (Research Policy and Legislation) from the Department of Research, Science and Technology Oabona Monngakgotla said they are greatly challenged as it appears local artists don’t seem to understand the importance of intellectual property, and the reality that they can also own it. He said for the reason that Maun is a tourism town; they have come to the realisation that people from here tend to forget other things that can help them fend for their families other than tourism activities.
“We want people to partner and get licensed with organisations such as COSBOTS, so that they may benefit from their works because as you may be aware, intellectual property also promotes development as well as the technology that comes with the distribution of your own works”, he stated. He said it is paramount that artists work together, especially at local level, adding where possible, they should also spread their wings and benchmark with other artists outside their locality as this will enable them to discover their achievements and failures.
A day prior to the commemorations, the COSBOTS Director of Compliance and Awareness Ntesang Sebetso said they managed to raid and confiscate more than 500 pirated CD’s and DVD’s from shops and street vendors within just a few hours, which is a clear indication that artistic works are sold for a song, while producers do not benefit a thing. She said all of these will be destroyed as they are regarded to be illegal. To date, COSBOTS has already managed to collect and distribute royalties to deserving artists registered with them. The first collection and distribution of P1.9 million was made in February 2014, followed by P3.4 million and P3.88 million in September 2014 and April 2015 respectively.
For his part, founder and former member of Kgwanyape band Caxton Senyatso urged fellow artists to take their work seriously and refrain from drug and substance abuse. He said instead, they should assist in the development of the country through their respective works. “Let us not be seen to be on the wrong side of the law all the time. Some of you here will agree with me that we have seen some within ourselves leading destitute lives. These are the people who also end up dying destitute, all because they could not take charge of their lives, hence their failure to also manage their works. We hear some have succumbed to drug related deaths. Let us prove that Batswana artists can be exemplary and deliver to the expectations of our customers and supporters”, he said.
Also gracing the event was former Assistant Minister of Education and patron at the Botswana Music Union Keletso Rakhudu who said while Botswana is working towards developing and growing the creative sector, there are some people who are set to reverse such efforts by way of not supporting upcoming or even established artists. He said it is however impressive to see Batswana taking pride in their culture and going an extra mile expressing it through music.
Rakhudu also said the definition of music to a Motswana cannot be limited to entertainment only, because it is a part of living. “This is why I can confidently say without music the culture of Batswana is incomplete, because culturally music forms part of our daily activities. It is quite common even in our folk tales, and also intertwined with our celebrations of passages of time such as weddings, parties and so forth”, he added.
In no distant future, the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) will conduct a workshop on the levy on technical devices Fund in Maun with the aim of disseminating information on the Fund, its objectives as well as the grant application procedure. According to CIPA, individuals, self governing organisations, research institutions, to mention but a few, are eligible to apply for a grant under this Fund.