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Govt takes steps to understand copyright contribution to economy

Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo.

By Silindzelwe Nxumalo

THE Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo has officially launched the Economic study of the Contribution of Copyright to the Eswatini Economy.

The study was launched at Mountain View, Mbabane on Wednesday. Khumalo stated that the Government of Eswatini has engaged specialized Intellectual Property (IP) agencies to assist with carrying out this timely empirical analysis of the copyright sector.

He said their partners WIPO and ARIPO had provided them with training personnel to understand the intricacies of the study and would provide them with technical support to carry out the study.

“From the results of the copyright study, we are launching today, we should be able to properly address the different facets of our emerging copyright framework which we shall grow deliberately,” Khumalo said.

He stated that the study would help the nation better understand its unique economy and give them a detailed report on how much copyright contributes to the GDP of the country and how they could and should improve on this.

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Khumalo said the anecdotal evidence suggested that people trade, and export volumes of musical works and that concrete data would dispel misconceptions and reinforce genuine beliefs so that they were able to make well-informed interventions of support to this economic activity.

The minister said there were a lot of jobs that intersect with IP and that the study would assist with identifying and supporting those job sectors that could benefit from government support until they were able to stand in competition with the world’s best in the copyright job market.

Meanwhile, Registrar IP Department Dr Celucolo Dludlu said the justification for protecting copyright lay in its economic and socio-economic benefits. “Create something original and get copyright protection so that you can have the market monopoly to commercially exploit your creation,” he said.

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He stated that the recognized process of creating protectable original work was free from formalities, unlike other types of IP, and that the work that had been created could then be used to generate revenue or trade. “Charge fees get a salary, license it (rent it out), assignment (selling), franchise it, and other revenue streams,” he said.

He stated that this was where the study comes in as to how much value was in copyright assets or the copyright ecosystem. He said the ministry in 2021 requested the big guns of IP, WIPO, to assist them in determining how much of the economy derives from copyright.

“A snapshot of the contribution of the copyright to the economy would be determined. The model that WIPO now uses is to say: train the IP Offices in the Member States to ultimately do the analysis themselves,” he said. He added that as the methodology relies on formal or official statistics, a large part of the solution was found in supplementing the official data with surveys, administered directly to the content owners.

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He said the National Statistics Office would assist them in designing and carrying out the surveys that would give them precise answers to how much copyright contributes to the economy. “The purpose of making the survey element a big part of the exercise is so that we can see the value and opportunities that we may be missing as a county and close those gaps,” he said. The registrar further appealed to their stakeholders and the public to participate in surveys and questionnaires that would come to you in the coming weeks and months.

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