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Authors And Journalists Rights In Africa

To mark International Labour Day on 1 May 2018 the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN) and Federation for African Journalists (FAJ) organised a roundtable meeting to discuss the issue of copyright and raise awareness of authors’ and journalists rights in Africa. The event, which took place in Accra, Ghana at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations, was attended by journalists, media practitioners, editors and media owners.

The meeting was opened by Gabriel Baglo, the General Secretary of the Federation of African Journalists framed the problem within an African context and emphasised the need for author’s rights to be respected. Baglo gave a pan-African picture of copyright problems in a digital age, why it’s important for journalists to be aware of their rights, and what journalists can do to retain their rights, especially using modern technology such as the watermarking of images.

FAJ together with EJN set to create awareness and uphold journalists copyright in Africa in this digital age

Korieh Duodu, a Ghanaian lawyer told the meeting that it is time to refashion the protection of journalistic endeavours through the law of copyright, and for Africa to pave the way by tearing up the 19th century rulebook in favour of a system that gives real protection – and value – to journalism in the digital age. Doing so, he argued, will strengthen the profession, at a crucial time when its role in increasing accountability and tackling corruption across the African continent cannot be over-emphasised.

In Duodu’s article for the EJN’s recent Trust in Ethical Journalism report he wrote:

It is, of course, impossible to generalise about the experience of African journalists. A writer in Ethiopia or Gambia may have more pressing concerns than whether someone is copying their articles. Africa’s patchwork of states neighbour those that engage in human rights abuses against journalists next to others enjoying diverse and free media. A common denominator, nevertheless, is the challenge journalists face in seeking to monetise their work, in the digital age of rampant abuse of copyright.

One key issue that has not been sufficiently analysed is the almost complete breakdown in literary copyright recognition, protection and enforcement across the African continent. Quite apart from the blatant and unethical copying of one journalist’s work by another, a more sinister force is at play.

The event also heard from Zakaria Tanko, a journalist and barrister who teaches copyright in Accra, as well as editors, owners and other participants from Ghanian media. The EJN’s director, Chris Elliott, chaired the meeting.

The round table is part of the Ethical Journalism Network’s programme to improve the knowledge and awareness of authors rights in Africa, supported by Kopinor – the Norwegian collecting agency that represents copyright holders of published works through 22 member organisations.

The EJN is in the process of developing an online toolkit for journalists to help them protect their rights in the digital age. For more information contact Chris Elliott.

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