The Pacific Community (SPC), European Union (EU), Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and partners are celebrating World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April by launching an intellectual property awareness campaign for cultural producers in Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

“Enhancing the understanding of intellectual property rights and laws in the Pacific will assist creative and cultural producers to protect themselves from piracy and infringements,” the Deputy-Director of SPC’s Social Development Division, Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara, said.

“The creative and cultural industries are an important economic sector in the Pacific and around the world. Supporting intellectual property protection will help the sector grow and enable individual cultural producers to build livelihoods based on creative expression,” Ms Toelupe Tago-Elisara said.

The launch includes a series of videos in Fiji and Samoa, and radio advertisements in Solomon Islands, as well as posters and leaflets, to inform cultural producers of their intellectual property rights and raise awareness among consumers of the economic harm caused by piracy.

The campaign is part of the EU-ACP Enhancing the Pacific Cultural Industries: Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands project. The regional project – a partnership between SPC, PIFS, the European Union, Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands – recognises the contribution of cultural industries to Pacific economies and works to strengthen their position in the economy.  The project is made possible with financial support of the European Union and the assistance of the ACP (Africa Caribbean Pacific) Group of States.

Piracy and unauthorized use of designs, musical recordings, performances and writings are significant threats to both the livelihoods of individual artists and to the creative and cultural sector as a whole.

Intellectual property has contributed significantly to countries’ economies. The music industry in Fiji has been benefiting from intellectual property protection through the work of the Fiji Performing Right Association (FPRA) since it was established in 1993.

Through the Fiji Copyright Act 1999, composers now have the right to control the public performance, broadcast and communication of their music and as a result FPRA was able to collect FJD$450,553 in revenue in 2014, providing their member artists with over FJD$245,000 in royalties.

A report prepared by Pricewaterhouse Coopers said that Copyright alone contributed AUD$111.4 billion to the Australian economy in 2014.

In September 2013, the International Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry published a study which analyzed seven key industry sectors – automotive parts, alcohol, computer hardware, mobile phones, packaged foods, personal goods, and tobacco products – that are vulnerable to counterfeiting, piracy, and smuggling. The study concluded that, in 2012, rights holders suffered an approximately USD $11.9 billion (21.7 percent) loss in sales in India as a result of trademark counterfeiting issues. Collectively, according to the study, the Indian government’s economic loss associated with these illicit activities totalled approximately USD$4.26 billion.

In order to raise awareness around this critical issue, the World Intellectual Property Organisation [WIPO’s] member states designated April 26 as World Intellectual Property Day back in 2000. Celebrations around the world will call attention to the importance of protecting intellectual property and will help the general public understand intellectual property.

Media contact: Jessie McComb, SPC Culture Officer, [email protected] or +679 337 0733

Useful links:
PWC report- 2014 Australia (pdf)
2015 Special 301 Report – United States Trade Representative (pdf)

Photo Credit: Ron Castro, Guam