By Dumisani Gumpo
Music piracy is not only illegal, but an evil act.
There are many ways and means in which someone could illegally sell or publish another person’s work, part of it is plagiarism which many a scholar will know what I am talking about.
This is also found everywhere and involves literary and artistic works. Plagiarism can be ‘artist to artist’ kind of theft and the people involved try by all means to hide their misdemeanours by adding or subtracting from their plagiarised work. They usually pay hefty fines when caught. Students are penalised in their own way when found.
I write this article as a producer of music and I have this form of art closest to my heart. It pains me when I see people parading pirated music at functions where Zimbabweans gather especially here in the United Kingdom.
These people duplicate music on low quality CDs and sell them to the public who desperately need the artists’ songs but can’t find them. These pirates are not different from the ones who kidnap and maim people in the Indian Ocean, popularly known as the Somali pirates. They literally take away someone’s God given talent and sell it at sick money and no profit to the creator of the piece of art. They have been joined by shop owners who now colour copy covers of DVDs, duplicate discs and then display them with falsified pride in their shops for unsuspecting Zimbabweans to buy at £10 for 3.
What beggars belief is the audacity of these business people who themselves will report any unregistered person they found operating within their territory in minutes, but are literally killing another legally operating business person, the musician. Many of these shops pirate Zimbabwean and South African music videos especially those artists who are back home. The same artists are fighting piracy tooth and nail in their respective countries. When they come to the developed world they find it’s worse than what they left back home. Many of these shops are owned by Zimbabweans and are rife in London, the midlands and the North West counties. Some have even gone to an extent of copying dramas from Zimbabwe and South Africa, like Paraffin, Mukadota, Gringo, S’dumo uBambo Lwami and others so they could reap where they did not sow.
There is a lot of money invested in these artistic projects to come to fruition for one to exploit in such a terrible manner. The buyers are usually unsuspecting. There is one thing to remember as a buyer of pirated material: YOU ARE ALSO A PIRATE. I say so because if you are found in possession of stolen goods, whether you know the seller or don’t you get arrested. That’s the law. If you are found with pirated material, so are you. As Zimbabwe International Performers Alliance (ZIPA) we call upon organisers of functions patronised by Zimbabweans especially in the United Kingdom to not only bar these pirates but also report them to the police because they are committing a serious crime. The embarrassing thing in this whole scenario is that some musicians I spoke to did not know that what is popularly known as dubbing is illegal and eats into the possible profits of the artist. Some artists literally shoot themselves on the foot. Piracy has dwindled profits by almost ninety per cent in some countries in the last five years.
Many who are reading this article are asking themselves how these culprits will come to book, at this juncture let me introduce the recently formed Zimbabwe International Performers Alliance, ZIPA. This is an organisation based in England with its offices in Kent, which was introduced to weed out all these unscrupulous beings in the business of not only music but performing arts as an industry. We work with musicians, actors, promoters and genuine business owners who understand the dangers of jeopardising another person’s business. Through our strategic partners we will, again, not only weed out these pirates but name and shame them as well. There is a website recently set-up where you could anonymously report a pirate and we will parade them if there is proof. The website appears at the foot of this article. We are in talks with the British police to recognise our efforts and charge the pirates and their cronies as they charge criminals.
Local authorities may now fine even revoke a business licence from a person who is involved in piracy. The established musicians, fully-fledged producers and filmmakers understand and are behind our effort and venture. Talking to the chairman of ZIMURA, Albert Nyathi who welcomed the formation of ZIPA and said it is doing exceptional work and also encouraged especially composers to register their works with his organisation, expressed anger and disappointment when hearing the level of piracy among Southern Africans in the United Kingdom. Nyathi described piracy as ‘appalling’ and urged people in the diaspora to unite and fight it,
‘We don’t blame everyone, but only those involved in this criminal act. As a result we artists are failing to make it because someone is making a shortcut in order to be rich on our behalf. The likelihood is that we will remain perennially poor’. The angry Nyathi said on the phone.
If I can echo the words of Albert Nyathi that piracy is leaving many a household hungry, some performers like Dee Jays are part of the conspiracy. Recently I attended a wedding where the DJ did not have a single originally done CD, all the CDs were duplicate copies. While I did not physically count the CDs, I can safely say that he had over two hundred (200) CDs all of which were copies of originals. That also compromises on the quality of sound since you would not know what generation that CD is.
If it is, say, the third generation, that painfully means that the song has lost vast quantities of sound quality and the musician has lost three sales, even more. Some DJs use bespoke software that retains quality, but the question is, are they registered with the relevant organisations and paying their dues? Imagine that someone sterilised you. The whole clan or family will surely be going into extinction without a doubt. Only a satanic person can do that. Zimbabweans are warm-hearted people who resent hurting others and those who have been doing this diabolic act need to do an inward looking process and refrain from it. Think: virtually all deceased Zimbabwean musicians were declared paupers at death because of YOU.
You can visit our website to learn more about the aims and objectives of ZIPA at www.zipa.org.uk and if you have not registered as an individual artist or organisation take the opportunity to do so. For those who have not registered their music with ZIMURA the website is www.zimmusicrights.org As ZIPA it is our duty to help.
Dumisani Gumpo is the Chairman of ZIPA and writes in his own capacity and he is contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org