OP-ED

Copyright Laws A Distant Dream

By Tamjid Alkohali

It’s a great shock when a poet or writer finds his poem’s lines under the name of another person. A great example is the famous poet Mohammed Alhalmi, who is living a nightmare that has accompanied him during his literary career.

“I still remember when a poet saved one of my poems with some additions in his weblog under his name. The publishing date of the poem on Facebook was the only evidence in my hand which helped me to prove to people and friends on Facebook that the poem was mine” Alhalmi said.

Such an issue has been repeated many times with Alhalmi, especially because of his interest in publishing his poems on social networking sites. Alhalmi says that people aren’t aware the sadness of writers and they just enjoy reading and publishing other people’s poems without refereeing to poets  and writers.”

 “A few people who publish my poems mention my name at the end. This behavior indicates their appreciation for the writer’s work and encourages the creativity,” Alhalmi added.

With the absence of the law that protects copyrights in the country, Alhalmi documents his poems in the Culture Office in Ibb where he lives.

Writer Ahlam Al-Makaleh, who has the same problems, confirmed that all authors without exception live in concerns for their intellectual rights and always think about ways to preserve their work.

“Authors are sometimes forced to print their writings on papers, despite the great cost they lose, or to archive on electronic weblogs, as happened with me,” Makaleh explained.

Makaleh said that she is no longer able to monitor all the people who copy her writings and publish it on social networking sites, and the idea of weblogs is no longer useful. This has made her think about stopping publishing her writings at all. “Why we don’t have a ministry that gives attention to authors’ rights and pushes them to the top instead of breaking their paddles?” she wondered.

Makaleh confirmed that with the worsening situation in Yemen in general and the cultural situation in particular, preserving authors’ rights has become a dream that can’t be achieved.

The lack of respect of copyright is not limited to poets and writers, but also singers and composers.

Writer Hatem al-Sharabi spoke sadly about the loss of many Yemeni songs, especially those stolen by the Gulf States.  “It is no problem if Yemeni songs sung by other singers from different countries, but the problem when the copyright of these songs aren’t preserved,” al-Sharabi says.

In his report in Algomhuria newspaper, Al-Sharabi mentioned tens of Yemeni songs with high popularity. People think that these songs belong to princes and poets from the Arab Gulf. “The main reason behind this problem is the media, which publishes information randomly without investigating the credibility of this information,” he confirmed.

Al-Sharabi added that the Ministries of Information and Culture behave as if it isn’t their problem, despite musical heritage being no less important than the treasures and relics of this homeland.

The poet and the head of the Yemeni Writers Union, Mohammed al-Kaud, said that unfortunately about 80% of the copyright and related rights today are absent, and there is common book fraud and imitating for all artworks in general.

Al-Kaud added that the absence of copyrights leads to the absence of creative people from the cultural field because they find their efforts aren’t appreciated. “Basically, the writer, poet, or composer should have a specific rate of financial returns in case their works are used on TV, the radio, or anywhere else. However, in Yemen they don’t even get respect or gratitude,” Al-Kaud explained.

Al-Kaud confirmed that the matter needs the collective action of the media and cultural institutions and organizations in order to make people aware of such rights through launching awareness campaigns and seminars. “There are many campaigns and seminars held but they fail because they don’t continue for a long time,” he said.

Al-Kaud concluded that copyright protection is followed by many positive results; it is an effective tool of economic advancement and also contributes to the development of the movement of authorship, creativity, innovation and invention in many areas.

1 Comment